Twenty Days after Cuba’s July 11 Protests

By Irina Echarry

Police special forces on the street to break up one of the scores of peaceful demonstrations on July 11, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Stringer

HAVANA TIMES – The atmosphere in Cuba remains tense. The spark that ignited Sunday July 11th throughout the country, generated demonstrations not seen in the last 60 years, but also a large police deployment in the streets. That operation, together with hundreds of detainees, some already sentenced in express trials, anguishes family members. Meanwhile, the shortages of food and medicine, the Covid-19 spike, and never-ending lines, has many people fed up, resulting in chaos.

A confusion impossible to understand without listening to the testimonies of the victims of police repression. Some have already been released and are pending trial or some other measure. One must read the stories of those hundreds of men and women who went out to demonstrate that day or who were simply on the street when it all began and are sleeping in a jail or detention center since that night.

They are heartbreaking stories: mothers who have not been able to continue breastfeeding their children; youths who are the sustenance of their houses and their sick parents; people with mental disorders or disabilities locked in a cell; young people who just pulled out their phones, as they always do, and were suddenly forced into a patrol car; people who came out to defend their rights, good people abused in a fury by the military for just shouting a slogan; groups mistreating a single person.

This chaos could not be understood either without listening to the country’s leaders and its official media, which, by the way, have been lately varying the discourse from very strong to moderate; although it is already a little late.

First, the president gave the order for combat, he sent the “revolutionaries” to take to the streets, thereby not only granting freedom of action to the rapid response brigades formed by “the people”, but to the police and military with an impressive combat readiness.  

Then they began to say (the president himself, the foreign minister, and the news reporters) that those who came out to protest were vandals and mercenaries. On television assaults on stores or mistreatment of patrols were shown over and over again; and the word for the demonstrations was “riots.”

That discourse remains, but the pressure on social networks and from family members have forced the government leaders to acknowledge (with discretion) that it was not so simple. In the videos of that day, what prevails is peace. And then in the official media some artists and “townspeople” have commented on the need to listen to those who came out peacefully. The president began to speak of love and hearts. And the last thing was that the president of the Supreme Court clarified that demonstrating is not a crime, on the contrary, it is a constitutional right.

In recent days, several countries have made donations of food and medical supplies that the government will use to quiet the demands a little, very little, because the biggest demand was freedom (whatever that means for each of those who shouted).

In the midst of all this movement, many people continue to be imprisoned for demonstrating, there is an immense list of names, some are better known than others, although all are equally important. Some people have been released, but that is also arbitrary. It is impossible to know what determines that some are released and others are not. This creates uncertainty among people. The arrests have not stopped either. The atmosphere is still tense, the streets are quiet, yes, but it is a forced calm.

A small portion of the list of those arrested during or after the protests and their current status on July 29th.

Read more from Irina Echarry’s diary here.

11 thoughts on “Twenty Days after Cuba’s July 11 Protests

  • Following your assault upon the character of Moses Patterson Nick, you can scarcely afford to speak of: “such accusatory language is a touch disrespectful to fellow commentators.”

    Far from being your “angry young man”, I am but an old man who addresses reality. To me, discussion of Cuba is not about “fighting talk” or verbal placebos, but about the plight of the people who have to endeavor to exist under totalitarian rule.

  • Mr MacD,
    It’s great to see that you are back on HT comments duty and apparently well and in fine fettle.
    I hope that your family are also keeping well ??

    It’s heartwarming to see that you still have that ‘angry young man’ aspect to your commentary. It’s joyous to see that you haven’t lost this nor the naive one-sidedness that often goes with being an angry young man.
    It’s great, once again, to be made aware of your youthful, albeit basic, good vs evil mindset. It reminds me of when I was young!!

    But let me point out something to you young fella:
    Not everyone who has a more balanced or more nuanced take on the situation in Cuba than your good self is a ‘supporter of a repressive Communist regime’ or a ‘sycophant’ as per your assertion.
    I would suggest that such accusatory language is a touch disrespectful to fellow commentators.
    On the one hand, this is great fighting talk and befitting of someone with your ‘angry young man’ credentials. But on the other hand, it does little, if not nothing, to afford any progression to the debate in hand.

    I’m 100% right and anyone who dares to disagree is 100% wrong.
    So that’s how it is young Mr MacD??
    Great stuff.
    That outlook reminds me of a certain government on a certain large Caribbean island.

  • Olga, you seem to know the inner workings of the Cuban government. Someone high up in the government must be giving you information. How come the people you mentioned , not one has been sanctioned by the Biden Administration? This inquiring mind wants to know.

  • Curt , Raul still directing the puppet Diaz Cannel besides Lopez Callejas, Raul’s ex Son in law along with Alejandro Castro Espin are in charge. Ppl are still calling it Castrismo because the essential politics of the Castro’s system still in power repressing the ppl. Ramiro Valdez still pulling some strings as well. So the Castro Families and the rest of the military apparatus that refuse to move out of the way and let the Cubans inside the island and outside choose a democratic government voted by the ppl. Hope this help you a little.

  • Someone please enlighten me. Raul Castro is retired and probably senile. I thought Fidel died in 2016, yet all the anti-Cuba hardliners still refer to the Cuban government as the Castro dictatorship. Are they feeling nostalgic or is Fidel running the country from the grave? I’m just curious.

  • The Castro lamabotas who have criticized the US in a backdoor effort to justify the unjustifiable in Cuba always fail to acknowledge that the Cuban people have their own minds. The tens of thousands of Cubans on the streets all over Cuba would not have been there due to some CIA-sponsored Vulcan mind meld. They surely must have had real grievances. Food shortages in Cuba can not be blamed on the US embargo. Food imports are expressly excluded from the list of embargoed imports. Cubans largely protested seeking greater freedom. The embargo has nothing to do with the Castro dictatorship’s government administration. Sadly, despite the obvious failings of the Castro regime, I fear that little will change. It appears that the Cuban people lack the will to continue to press the dictatorship for change.

  • Roberto is clearly a supporter of the repressive communist regime in Cuba, but which he does not suffer himself. Sycophants such as he, consistently try to draw attention away from the harsh reality of the day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year of the totalitarian power and control exerted over the people of Cuba by a communist regime. The US has plenty of faults, that is undeniable, but those faults are not responsible for installing a tyrannical dictatorship – the Castros are! Everybody with even the slightest knowledge of Cuba, knows the history of Batista, the Mafia and the connivance of the US government, over sixty years ago. But that is not the cause of the misery that currently blights the lives of the people of Cuba, that can be laid at the door of Fidel and Raul Castro.

  • Before we start lobbing accusations of who is and is not a “dementia victim”, I think it would be valuable to recall what horrible effects US intervention on the island has looked like throughout history; assassination attempts, bombings of various locations, total exploitation of the people and their sovereign land for profit, enabling and propping-up of organized crime syndicates on the island to bolster a White House-installed puppet leader, and endless lies to cover all of it. When people in the US hear calls for “freedom”, I do not think, in that context, that the word has a generally agreed-upon meaning for those on both sides of the Florida Straits. Indeed it has historically means freedom FROM US intervention and barbarism.
    Thanks for your view of what’s going on. I continue to read of your country and people’s history of finally saying no more exploitation, no more guesthood in your own land, and attempt to understand further the situation in Cuba- free of northern propaganda.

  • Applaud the Cuban people for their efforts to be free! Sad and apologetic that my United States has a dementia victim with communist sympathies in our White House. His lack of leadership skill and inability to speak without a printed transcript is shameful.

  • Thanks for sharing the status of what is happening with protestors of 11 JULY 21 .
    The meeting at the White House with Cuban officials included access to the Internet along with communication access. There are various satellites but not sure when and what will happen there, as I recall months ago how the Cuban Government rejected access to GOOGLE for Internet.

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