Cuban Government Responds to Civic March for Change

Military to the streets!

Ready for the civic march. The “Moncada” military exercises will conclude precisely on November 20th, just declared National Defense Day. Photo: Vicente Brito/ Escambray

By Irina Echarry

HAVANA TIMES – Since the citizens’ initiative to march peacefully on November 20th was made public, expectations have been growing. In the streets I have heard different comments on the subject. Comments from people who do not plan to leave their house that day “just in case”, to those who look forward to the month of November.

A friend told me that surely there would be some infiltrators to create problems and thus justify a police intervention. My friend assumed that they would allow the demonstration because “if so many people request it, the government will not be able to refuse.”

Article 56 of the Constitution states: The rights of assembly, demonstration, and association, for lawful and peaceful purposes, are recognized by the State if they are exercised with respect for public order and compliance with the regulations established by law.

So, in Cuba, demonstrating is a right, as it is to express oneself freely, as long as the speech does not harm others. Such was publicly acknowledged by the president of the Supreme Court, Ruben Remigio Ferro, at a July 24th press conference. He said that thinking differently, questioning reality, and expressing oneself does not constitute a crime, because it is supported by the constitution.

But we are already used to the fact that on the island there are different realities that go hand in hand. Most of those arrested in the wake of July 11 protests remain in prison, some in maximum security prisons and many awaiting excessive sentences. That is why it is not surprising that this October 7, after people in several provinces had formally delivered their letter requesting permission for the march, the government announced armed exercises for November 18, 19 and 20, implicating the military and its weapons, declaring precisely November 20, National Defense Day.

In addition, the activists who promoted the march have been subjected to harassment, repression, and a smear campaign by the government since the first request was presented in Havana.

As a culmination, President Diaz-Canel tweeted hours later a phrase from Ernesto Che Guevara: “Let’s be the nightmare of those who try to take away our dreams.” That, after sending the military to the streets, can be considered an incitement to hatred, to confrontation, especially after having seen the repression of July 11th. Let’s not forget how the president, evidently surprised by the protests in various cities, gave the order “to the revolutionaries” to go out to fight.

Now that they are alert, with time to prepare, what might they be capable of doing? The comments on the page of the official digital media Cubadebate, which replicates the MINFAR note, and those published by some people on their social networks are scary, but they are the result of the aggressiveness with which the government deals with civic affairs.

The march has a well-defined objective: to demand that the rights of all Cubans be respected, the release of political prisoners, and to advocate for a democratic dialogue.

The government does not understand that times have changed; they continue to play politics with cheap propaganda and impositions. They do not know how to deal with citizens in any other way. To a peaceful, legitimate gesture, called by Cubans, who even published a guide to behavior to avoid disturbances, the government responds with weapons and military personnel in the street.

Note: The date of the Civic March for Change has been moved to November 15. We are waiting for government creativity to flow, to see what they come up with now.

Read more by Irina Echarry here on Havana Times.

Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

27 thoughts on “Cuban Government Responds to Civic March for Change

  • Curious how those killed due to neglect by Government do not qualify for respect! Ne mention on anniversaries – as if they never existed!

  • Mr MacD,
    Are you really equating a deliberate planned act of terrorism with the slackness of Air Cubana personnel?????
    Is there no end to your one sidedness?
    You are way way way out on a shaky limb there.
    Have some semblance of basic respect man.

  • “inadequate health and safety”. Really Nick, do you consider that covers a level of disregard for human life that was demonstrated by Air Cubana and the Minister responsible? One hundred and twelve people died, because a decision was taken to ignore known safety problems with that specific aircraft. That is why the inquiry was all hushed up and a ban placed upon reporting – the guilt was obvious.

  • With reference to Curt’s comments about the evils of fascism, he is correct. But the difference between he and i, is that I condemn totalitarian rule whether it be fascist or communist. Both are evil. If however, Curt wishes to indulge in a numbers game, then Stalin and Mao – both communist – lead the world in slaughter. A few hundred thousand here and there by the fascists pall into insignificance when compared with tens of millions who were the victims of the two afore named.

  • Mr MacD…..
    Because it was an act of terrorism carried out by a man who was trained at the expense of U.S. taxpayers and who was rewarded by the USA by being given safe haven in his latter years.
    Big difference.
    Although you seem to find an equivalence between a deliberately planned act of terrorism and a plane crash caused by inadequate health and safety.
    Sometimes its astonishing what people will come out with in forlorn attempts to justify their one sided points of view.

  • Mr Patterson,
    I’m not talking about the sickness and hypocrisy of your country’s policies toward Cuba as a deflection.
    I’m talking about it because it’s sicko and hypocritical.
    And with all due respect, being ‘African American’ is in no way a justification for being someone who lives in a glass house and is repeatedly caught out for stone throwing.
    What you will never take on board is the fact that your country’s sicko and hypocritical policies toward Cuba are rejected by representatives of all the other countries in the entire world apart from one. The only country in the entire world which gives its support for these policies is the USA’s little f**k-buddy state down there in the Middle East when it ain’t too busy stealing other peoples’ land.

  • How is it that Nick mentions flight 455 of forty five years ago without mention of the greater number of deaths of Cubans that occurred in Cuba only three years ago when Air Cubana rented an aircraft that was on record as banned from entering the airspace of another country for safety reasons? Did that just slip the mind? Discussion of that incident is banned in Cuba.

  • Ok Moses. So we have two imperfect governments. Difference is, you’re a US citizen. You pay US taxes and vote for US policymakers. You’re not a Cuban citizen, you don’t have Cuban blood, and you’re not a Cuban permanent resident. So why all the time and energy and years of criticism of a foreign government, when you supposedly recognize the deficiencies of your own homeland ? Just because you are married to a Cuban, as am I, doesn’t make you Cuban. If you can direct me to another place where you have expressed your opinion about the injustices in the US, to the extent you have for years on HT, I’ll shut up. Likewise if you would sometimes admit that Cuba has a far better track record in certain areas that most countries.

  • Nick and Dan should reread my comment. From the start I acknowledge that no government is perfect. More specifically, as an African American man in the United States, I am last in line to “defend” US policies. I can shed blood in defending my country abroad and a white boy from Russia will be treated better by my local police (that actually happened). Instead, as I have always held, the failings and unfairness of US policies don’t begin to justify the injustices in Cuba under the failed Castro dictatorship. Rising gasoline prices here in San Francisco don’t make it OK that Cuba has a failed energy policy. My comment does not “defend” anything. But it is clear that in your efforts to justify the dictatorship in Cuba, both of you use the strategy of attacking the US as a deflection. Shooting down Flight #455 is not justified by the downing of the Cessna flown by Cuban exiles. Both are wrong. Here’s the difference however: I have the freedom, as do you, to PUBLICLY criticize my government. Accepting the mantle of “Castro bootlicker” appear to strip you of the mental capacity to acknowledge the failures of the Castro regime. Worse yet, by contrast, everyday Cubans, in Cuba, dare not be critical in the public space. That’s the difference.

  • Correction:
    Flight 455
    45 years ago last week.
    Gosh the years go by. And the years they were robbed of grow longer.

  • Oh no!!
    Here we go again……….
    Mr Patterson is jumping back on board that rickety old ‘defending a dictatorship’ bandwagon yet again huh?
    Olga was kind enough to think of me and mentioned my name in her original comment on this article. It would have been impolite not to respond to her. I would guess that Olga would prefer not to be ignored.
    So by responding it means I’m defending a dictatorship? OK Mr P so everyone who makes a comment is defending something are they? What are you defending today then?
    Are you defending your country’s sicko policies toward Cuba which are widely rejected by the rest of the world?
    Are you defending your country’s restrictions on the freedom of it’s citizens’ fundamental, constitutional right to travel where they want or send money where they want?
    You defending the fact that the U.S. taxpayer paid for the training of the terrorist who bombed Flight 455 from Barbados 35 years ago last week killing everyone on board?
    You defending the fact that your country harboured this terrorist in his latter years?
    Or maybe you would like to join Olga and defend your country’s invasion of Vietnam by suggesting that the Vietnamese wanted to be invaded?
    If this a forum for defending stuff, what you gonna defend today Mr P??????
    Being from the USA, you got a lot to pick from. Could be long ‘ol comment if you’re going to do the topic any kinda justice.
    Some of those who inhabit glass houses just can’t seem to give up on the stone throwing.

  • Moses – aren’t the Cubans that post on HT with their anti government opinions expressing themselves ? I don’t know, is HT blocked in Cuba ? It’s also quite obvious that you, who conform to the ideals of the powerful and privileged haven’t ever strayed outside the safe, warm confines of that conformism, to see how those who challenge the status quo can be treated, even when their threat to the established order is minscule compared to what the Cuban government is facing.
    Olga – y que ? You think that you clip shows hundreds of thousands of people ? Quite the opposite. Also don’t look to damn peaceful either.

  • Nick and Dan, while enjoying the freedoms of an open society are using their freedom of expression to defend a dictatorship. There are no perfect people so government created by people, necessarily will never be perfect. The difference with the Castro regime is that they embrace their imperfections. Diaz-Canel has no intention of allowing Cuba to become more democratic.

  • In response to Dan and his endeavor to detract from the reality of the demonstrations in numerous communities across Cuba on July 11th, 2021. The protesters s including those in our community were directed against the repressive practices of the Government against the people, including the denial of freedom of expression, the deteriorating living standards and conditions. In response, the Government demonstrated increased levels of repression including putting the MININT goons in civilian clothing onto the streets and urging members of the PCC onto the streets to attack the “counter-revolutionaries”. The main cry given was:
    “patria y vida”, demonstrating the desire of the people to have life not the slow death of communism.
    Fox News and the US, were not involved.

  • Olga, dale chica. You know that there was nothing close to hundreds of thousands of protestors , even if they were all asking for “Freedom” as you somehow claim, and not simply protesting economic hardships. Why else do you think that your Fox News had to use footage from protests in US – backed Egypt and say it was shot in Cuba ?

  • Dan of course I do not talk for the Cuban people the Cuban ppl in a multitude hundred of thousands on July 11 spoke demanding FREEDOM and they trying to speak again on November 20th a d your boys ( that nobody elect) responded with a military maneuver the ppl of Cuban then changed the date for the 15th and then the dictatorship denied the March on the ground that nobody can ask Gott political change in Cuba where “socialism “ is the only way. Just image your life without the right to express your opposition to a government.

  • Olga you actually still believe that old propaganda regarding the U.S. invasion of Vietnam?
    The Vietnamese asked the USA to invade did they? They actually asked for it? Really?
    ‘Please Mr President of the USofA……
    Please shower us with napalm.
    We’re from Vietnam and we just love it when your boys drop napalm. Especially when y’all drop it on children and old ladies. Please massacre entire villages of our people. We just love that stuff.’

    Yeah sure they asked for it.

    There were atrocities on both sides during the Cold War. There were atrocities on both sides during the conflict in Vietnam. Neither side was entirely good nor entirely evil. Good and Evil is what goes on in those big old books such as the Holy Bible and so forth.
    But real life just don’t occur like that.
    Olga, you have a very one-sided view point. You may get past that one day. I hope you do.

    Thankfully, after finally repelling the foreign imperialism of France, Japan, USA etc, Vietnam is doing not too bad these days. Better than Cuba. Although I’m pretty sure it ain’t perfect. Coz nowhere ever is.

  • Olga, the reason that I don’t talk much about left wing dictatorships, because the repression of right wing dictatorships have been much more brutal. The US looked the other way when tens of thousands of people were disappeared or killed in Argentina during the late 70s and early eighties. What about the right wing , government sponsored death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 70s and eighties. Tens of thousands of people were massacred during Pinochet’s reign in Chile. How about the Philippines where thousands were killed by the Duterte dictatorship in extrajudicial murders since 2016. I could go on and on and it’s pathetic that the US looks the other way when their allies violate human rights.

  • ” And Dan the USA never invaded Vietnam the government from the south asked USA for help against the communist guerrillas “. And with that comment, ( and completely ignoring the murder of US college girls by their government) Olga, you’ve exposed exactly how you think and where you are really coming from. Believe me. You do not speak for the Cuban people.

  • Nick and Dan Nobody elected the Cuban dictatorship. Castro promised free elections and never did. Initially he picked the fight with USA government by stealing the properties of American citizens and paying to every other country for the confiscations but USA. The Cuban government is in power. It terror incarceration by giving the opposition exile or prison. Nick nothing after this horrible nightmare if more that 60 years can be worse. Just telling me what country In L.A. is having a worse situation than Cuba with the exception of Haiti. The Cubans are not longer afraid of the government tactics and there is not enough prisons for 11 millions people. Cubans are demanding what you Nick and Dan have Freedom and democracy. What makes you think they don’t deserve what you already enjoy? And Dan the USA never invaded Vietnam the government from the south asked USA for help against the communist guerrillas from the North and the war then grew.

  • Olga, I’m not concerned with your name calling and insults.
    I am in favour of people having the right to peaceful protest. In Cuba, in the USA in Saudi Arabia. Wherever. You will not find a single comment from me that is arguing against people having the right to peaceful protest.
    I also recognise that sovereign countries have a right and a responsibility to maintain law and order.
    I have never been to Nicaragua or Venezuela so I tend not to comment. Although I must say that I always had a certain amount of admiration for Hugo Chavez as I do for anyone who tries in whatever way to stand up against bullying.
    I admire people who take a stand against U.S. imperialism in the same way that I have an admiration for guys such as Georgie Boy Washington and his buddies who took a stand against British Imperialism way back in the day.
    But these people are never perfect. For example, George Washington was a brute of a man in many ways.
    What you will never take on board Olga, is that I have no hatred for the Cuban Government. But just because I don’t hate these people it doesn’t mean that I support them or support everything they do. I don’t really like the orthodoxy of either side.
    There will be changes in Cuba. No doubt. I simply hope that any changes are peaceful and turn out for the better rather than for the worse. And I hope that after all this time, Cuba retains it’s independence and doesn’t go back to being a de facto U.S possession.

  • Hi Olga. To answer your question, I guess I’d have to mention acouple of things that we’re not supposed to mention on open-minded HT, such as equivalency. I.E, all governments do what they need to do when they are threatened. I remember when I was a kid, and the Ohio National Guard shot and killed four college students who were not calling for regime change – only the end to the brutal US invasion of Viet Nam. You probably didn’t know that, though you’ll claim you did. I would also answer that Cuba would appear justified since they are facing a Superpower which is doing everything it can to foment dissatifaction, hunger and hopelessness. Again, I know you think that the blockade has little or no effect and that US policy is just rainbows and unicorns. But you asked me.

  • Nick here we going again. You trying to accuse me to be reactionary because I’m against the horrible Cuban regime. I just asking you do you think Cubans have the right to protest for 62 years of lack of freedom and economic disaster? Do you think that the government military maneuvers is nothing more than a way to intimidate the people of Cuba? I know you are against Pinochet and every other right wing dictatorships. But I never had seen a comment from you Dan or Curt about the leftist dictatorship like Nicaragua Cuba or Venezuela. I gave you the chance to condemn this horrible act. But you responded with an intangible rhetoric almost like a magic trick. In Cubano that’s called nanboyambo. Got you!

  • Olga it’s very kind of you to mention me in your comment.
    Although I should point out that I don’t make excuses for dictatorships.
    Your comments tend toward unquestioning praise of a rigid pro capitalist orthodoxy.
    Anyone who does not conform to your orthodoxy is criticised.
    The Cuban Government don’t like their orthodoxy to be criticised either.
    It’s all about the promotion of one type of orthodoxy and the criticism of those who point out that there is a whole world of thought and opinion outside of that orthodoxy.
    Therefore Olga, I gotta point out that your comments often remind me of comments made by the Cuban Government.
    Every coin has two sides.

  • I suggest that if Diaz-Canel wishes to promote the views of Dr. Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara de La Serna Lynch, he ought to consider:

    “Youth should learn to think and act as a mass. It is criminal to think as an individual.”

    Did Cubans think and act as a mass on July 11th, 2021?

    If so, should they all be jailed or commended?

  • Nick! Curt! Dan! I Really interested to know what excuse you guys have for the dictatorship now.

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