The Cuban government and the opposition on the island are heading for a new confrontation this weekend.
The Cuban authorities have increased police interrogations, detentions, acts of repudiation and house arrests, in anticipation of an opposition march planned for Monday that the government has said it will not allow as part of an alleged interventionist plan by the United States. .
Cubans in various cities around the world have organized demonstrations in solidarity with the Cuban people and with the young artists and activists of Archiepielago, the group that called the march. The authorities have already threatened to imprison Yunior García Aguilera, one of the Archipelago’s leaders, who announced that he will walk only on Sunday afternoon.
“Civility is what will lead us to conquer that country that Martí dreamed of, to end this dictatorship and transform the country into a democratic country,” García said in a telephone interview from Havana. “A country where there are no exclusions, where there is no ideological apartheid, where no Cuban has to feel excluded from being able to participate in the country that was born.”
Garcia said his home was surrounded by state security agents but that he was going to try to go out for a walk alone “with a white rose.”
Foreign journalists who tried to approach Garcia’s home said the government had closed access. He was unable to leave his house at 3 pm as he had planned. Instead, he showed a sign through his window with the sign “My house is locked.” Previously, government supporters had tried to block her window with a giant Cuban flag unrolled from an upper deck, but they missed by a few inches. They then made several attempts until they managed to cover her completely.
In Miami, hundreds of cars with Cuban flags, and decorated with phrases such as “Patria y Vida” and “SOS Cuba”, set off in a caravan in the morning from Tamiami Park to end in the bay, in a gesture of support for the Cubans of the island and the November 15 march.
“It is our duty to be here, as a show of support for those Cubans who are going to leave tomorrow. [15 de noviembre] to demand their freedom, “said Carolina López, one of the protesters.
“Given the call of the homeland, this is what we must do. Since we cannot be there, what better way to support our people than by echoing what is happening on our island ”, said Ileana Bauza, another of the participants in the caravan.
The Assembly of the Cuban Resistance, a coalition of opposition groups from exile that organized the initiative, said it estimates that more than 1,000 cars participated in the caravan that ended with a rally at the allegorical Freedom Tower on Biscayne Boulevard.
At the event, Cuban activist Rosa María Payá announced that she will try to travel to Cuba on Monday, along with two members of the European Parliament representing right-wing parties from Spain and Italy, and Cuban social media influencer Alexander Otaola.
“The Cuban regime is the Berlin wall of our hemisphere,” Payá told the crowd. “What is happening in our country, what is going to happen tomorrow, is another step in the direction of breaking down that wall.”
They are unlikely to be allowed into the country. In the past, the island’s authorities have denied entry to former presidents, politicians and activists critical of the government.
Cuban exiles also held a vigil at La Ermita de la Caridad in Miami on Sunday afternoon, organized by Roots of Hope and the Miami Freedom Project.
“God is with the Cuban people and is a witness to all the suffering that the dictatorship has put us through. The time is now and we must pray for it, ”said Dairyn Arago, one of the attendees.
Repression increases within hours of the march
Since Friday, several independent press and social media users have reported an extensive police and special unit presence throughout the country. The troops are mobilized under the pretext of military maneuvers. And the government also announced several children’s fairs and activities throughout the week and until Monday.
Archipelago denounced that Daniela Rojo, one of its coordinators, was arrested since Friday and her whereabouts are unknown. Cuban opposition member Guillermo Fariñas, a European Parliament Sakharov Prize winner, was arrested on Friday and taken to a hospital awaiting trial, his relatives reported.
Several members of the Archipelago, promoters of the march on social media and independent journalists, including Washington Post columnist Abraham Jiménez Enoa, have denounced that they are under house arrest or have been warned to leave their home on Sunday and Monday. will be stopped. Following the publication of an interview with García on Saturday, the government revoked the credentials of the staff of the Spanish agency EFE, sparking a diplomatic conflict with the Spanish government and the European Union, which held accountable for the measure. On Sunday, only two members of the team received authorization to continue reporting from the island.
Cuban security agents prevented Víctor Ruiz, one of the signatories of the letter in which Archipelago notified the authorities of the intention to carry out the march, from leaving his home on Sunday. In a video obtained by the Herald, a security agent is heard insisting that Ruiz open the door. Below the building, a man dressed in a white T-shirt and with a cell phone in his hand yells “worm”, a term coined by the late Fidel Castro to try to denigrate dissidents. The voices of other people are also heard chanting slogans in favor of the Cuban regime.
Another video shared with the Herald shows a small group of government supporters conducting another act of repudiation against Santa Clara activist Andy García Lorenzo in the afternoon.
Leinier Cruz Salfrán, an organizer of the Guantánamo march, who previously reported that he had been briefly “kidnapped” by state security agents, was detained again this week. Shortly after, he posted a video on social media declaring his break with Archipelago. Then he deleted all of his social media accounts.
“This time it may be different. The regime is reacting out of fear, not out of confidence, ”said Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas in Washington. “For the first time in a long time, the repressive measures they took after July 11 have not worked and have doubled in threats and preventive actions. The protests are broad-based and, if they cannot be contained, they can gain momentum, challenging the regime to the core. “
In a statement on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken repeated the call on the Cuban government to allow the march and avoid responding with violence, as occurred during the July 11 demonstrations.
“We call on the Cuban government to respect the rights of Cubans, allowing them to meet peacefully and use their voices without fear of reprisals or government violence, and keeping the Internet and telecommunications lines open for the free exchange of information,” he said. Blinken.
“It is imperative that the international community uphold these universal rights whenever and wherever they are threatened,” he added. “We must speak with one voice, asking the Cuban government to respect those who exercise their rights in the peaceful protest of November 15 and to release all those unjustly detained.”
This story was originally published on November 14, 2021 2:35 pm.