Who is organizing the dissident march on November 15 in Cuba? What do they seek? What does the Cuban government say about this protest? What role do the pandemic, the internet, exile and the US play? These are the keys to understanding a fundamental moment on the island.
1. Archipelago: Founded as a result of the historic protests of July 11, it is the online community that convened the Civic Day for Change on November 15 to demand the democratization of Cuba and the release of political prisoners. He requested permission from the authorities to carry out the march in various cities. They denied it, but still kept the call.
2. Yunior García Aguilera: Progressive but without the vocation of a political leader, this 39-year-old playwright is the most visible face of the Archipelago. The Cuban government considers him a “mercenary” in the pay of the US, despite the fact that he denies any link with Washington. García Aguilera also promised to march alone this Sunday, on the eve of 15N, and assured that the authorities have threatened to imprison him if he tries.
3. Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel. So far he has limited himself to accusing the organizers of being in the pay of the US and its “imperial strategy.” It remains to be seen whether he will choose to maintain the hard line of the July 11 protests, when he said “the order to fight is given, revolutionaries take to the streets,” or if this time he will soften the tone.
4. The Department of State Security (DSE), the intelligence and counterintelligence body of Cubto. In recent days he has multiplied the summons and interrogations of critical citizens to dissuade them from joining the march. He recently uncovered one of his spies, the so-called “agent Fernando,” a doctor who watched opponents for two decades, including on trips abroad. In two he coincided with García Aguilera, whom he accused of having participated in “subversive” symposia and workshops, one of them in Spain, with former President Felipe González.
5. The security forces. Police presence has increased notably in recent days in the most sensitive areas. On July 11 there were complaints of police violence and images of attacks on protesters and journalists were observed. Protests across the country resulted in a single death. The violent actions of pro-government groups that attacked protesters with sticks and blunt objects were also denounced.
6. The young. More and more young Cubans are expressing publicly (mainly on the networks) their dissatisfaction with the current system, but only a minority is willing to take to the streets for fear of reprisals. The July protests left more than a thousand arrested and dozens of prison sentences, according to different human rights organizations.
7. The color white. The organizers have asked those who do not join to use the color white as a symbol of protest. From going out to the street dressed in white to hanging a white sheet in the window. Pro-government groups, for their part, have encouraged people to avoid this color.
8. The reopening. On November 15, Cuba reopens its doors to international tourism, a “party” according to the authorities, who do not want to cloud the launch of its second largest economic activity with the protest.
9. Internet. In social networks, the struggle between supporters and detractors of the Cuban government have intensified in recent days, a reflection of the intense political polarization. In the July 11 protests, which spread with the help of social media, the internet went down for days in much of the country. In Cuba, the only telecommunications operator is the state-owned Etecsa.
10. Misery and scarcity. Social unrest has been fueled in the last year by the impact on the already troubled Cuban economy of the impact of the pandemic, the tightening of US sanctions and macroeconomic mismanagement. Cubans have suffered a great shortage for months, which even affects food, medicine and clothing. This has led to long lines in front of stores and unleashed inflation.
11. Exile. Cubans abroad, mostly opposed to the island’s political system, are increasingly raising their voices. Especially now that they must go the extra mile to feed them, dress them and connect them to the internet with their currencies. Hundreds of thousands of Cuban emigrants are called to take to the streets from this Sunday and Monday in more than a hundred cities around the world – Miami is the main one – to show solidarity with the 15N marches.
12. United States. According to the Cuban government, the United States is the true promoter of the November 15 march, because Washington continues to seek regime change on the island. For his part, US President Joe Biden has threatened more sanctions on Cuba if the protesters’ human rights and fundamental freedoms are violated or if the organizers are prosecuted.
This story was originally published on November 14, 2021 11:13 am.