On Tuesday, Puerto Rican political prisoner Nina Droz was released from a federal prison in Tallahassee, Florida, where she served 37 months for participating in a May 2017 paro nacional demonstration on the archipelago protesting austerity measures, Telemundo PR reports.
Droz was one of 20 protesters who were arrested during the May 1, 2017 demonstration against the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), the unelected fiscal control board the act created, education budget cuts and workers’ rights, which brought 60,000 people out to the streets.
Droz, a former art teacher and model, was accused of attempting to burn a Banco Popular facility in Hato Rey. The young woman was the only demonstrator prosecuted by federal authorities.
Her arrest caused outrage across Puerto Rico and social media when her defense said she was being treated unfairly at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Guaynabo. According to her legal team, Droz, who wasn’t offered bail, was kept alone at the police station, where officers barred family visits and limited baths to three times a week.
“There is no valid reason for her prosecution and much less deprived of her freedom. Nina was chosen as a scapegoat for the purpose of silencing the voice of the people in their just demands,” the Comité de Amigxs y Familiares de Nina, a support group, said in a statement, according to Metro Puerto Rico. “The committee recognizes in Nina the integration of young people in the social struggles of the country as we saw it in the demonstrations of last summer and in the struggles of students claiming that the state’s public university is the center teacher where education is guaranteed to the poor sectors of our society.”
While Droz pled guilty, the woman’s mother, Aurea Franco, told reporters in July 2017 she did it after consultation with attorneys who told her she would likely be found guilty, regardless of her alleged innocence.
Nearly a year later, on June 12, 2018, and after 13 months in jail, Judge Aida Delgado declared Droz guilty of conspiracy, one of seven charges against her. She was sentenced to 37 months in prison at the Federal Correctional Institution, a women’s prison in Florida.
Droz arrived in Puerto Rico on Tuesday, where supporters embraced her return.
“Today, we welcome Nina with open arms. We value her high sense of dignity, courage and sacrifice,” the Comité de Amigxs y Familiares de Nina said.
Droz is required to serve three years of probation and pay a $100 fine.