Wilfredo Cancio Isla (Café Fuerte)
HAVANA TIMES — This Monday, the organization of a campaign headed by the heads of Cuba’s Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs) was to begin on the island. Reportedly aimed at preventing “anti-social behavior”, the campaign seems rather aimed at clamping down on activities by the opposition across the country.
Cuba’s official media have announced that the campaign, given the long and awkward title of First National Follow-Up and Control Campaign for the All-Out War Against Social Indiscipline, will be launched on December 22 and will involve the participation of other government organizations such as the Cuban Women Federation (FMC), the Young Communists League (UJC) and the University Student Federation (FEU).
“[The campaign] is part (…) of the organization’s current work plan aimed strengthening measures for preventing, combatting and eliminating corruption, illegal activities, crime and anti-social behavior,” a note published on the front page of Cuba’s Granma newspaper announced on Monday.
On the Eve of December 10
It is not accidental that the campaign should be launched on the eve of December 10, World Human Rights Day, a day for which internal dissident groups in Cuba have announced public demonstrations and a gathering organized by the independent activists group Estado de Sats, where displays and art exhibitions on the subject will be set up.
Today, Granma published a long article on the issue of human rights titled “Civic Participation: One of Our Human Rights” (“Participar, uno de nuestros derechos humanos”).
“(…) in a society like ours, civic participation, in addition to a right, ought to become a powerful means of defense against all of the ills that we now consider more harmful than enemy weapons, namely corruption, negligence and the loss of ethical values,” journalist Oscar Sanchez, author of the article, pointed out.
The campaign also seeks to mobilize university students in order to establish a space for debate at neighborhood level.
According to the official report, the novelty of the campaign is its use of pairs of university students who will “visit the more socially complex neighborhoods and, through non-traditional methods, help residents reflect on, share ideas about and propose solutions for existing problems, encouraging those who maintain a positive attitude” in their place of residence.
Pairs of Propagandists
Approximately 8,405 pairs of campaign workers (16,810 students) will be mobilized in the country’s 138 municipalities under the supervision of CDR leaders, 38 percent of whom are young, according to official data.
A total of 23,699 CDRs (of the country’s 135,647) have been selected to take part in the campaign, which will prioritize work in neighborhoods with the most social problems. This selection saw the participation of CDR Neighborhood Watch officials, who represent the direct link between each neighborhood and the Ministry of the Interior (MININT).
Preparations have been intense. The top CDR leadership has been tasked with holding meetings across the country. There, members of the FMC, UJC and FEU have participated in talks and attended training video-conferences for the campaign.
“They [young people] are studying the address delivered by Raul [Castro] at the National Assembly of July 7, 2013 and the speech by [Vice-President] Jose Ramon Machado Ventura on September 28, during the concluding remarks for the 8th CDR Congress,” Carlos Rafael Miranda, national CDR coordinator, stated during a preparatory meeting held in Sancti Spiritus at the close of November.
Two Speeches in Hand
Miranda added that the debates and “preventive action” at the different neighborhoods will be held and taken “with these two speeches in hand.”
In addition, the government has prepared an Internet and social network offensive.
The Ideological Department of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party is calling on government journalists to take part in an international Twitter campaign for human rights in Cuba. The campaign was set to begin at 2 p.m. on Monday and last until the noon of Wednesday, December 11.
“The social network Twitter will give the world a sense of international solidarity with Cuba, a country that has undeniably worked to guarantee the essential human rights of its citizens, in spite of the US blockade, which has been imposed on the island for more than fifty years,” an official call for participation published in the official government web-site Cubadebate declared.
As in previous and similar campaigns, the propaganda initiative is suggesting that “Cubans and their friends around the world” use the hashtags #DDHHCuba and #DerechosdeCuba.
Strengthened Official Networks
Cuba’s official networks have been strengthened for the occasion. An Ideological Department committee has been traveling around the country and holding meetings with groups of journalists in each of the island’s fifteen provinces and Isla de la Juventud since the end of October.
The strategy to be implemented on December 10, the issues to be divulged and the leaders of dissident groups to be targeted on the Internet were decided at these meetings, held behind closed doors.
“We renewed the list of web sites and pages that ought to be followed in order to refute their information and criticisms of the revolutionary process,” a source who participated at a provincial meeting (which saw the attendance of Vice-Chief for the Communist Party’s Ideological Department Angel Arzuaga) said.
The language of the coming confrontations, however, will not be exclusively rational and argumentative. The battle being announced by pro-government blogs will, by the looks of it, be far more intense.
“With the moral fortitude that the truth inspires in them, the people of Cuba will know how to respond to these new attempts at destabilizing the country, no matter what generation is responsible for them, on the Internet or on the streets,” Manuel Henriquez Largarde, one of the Cuban government’s main on-line agitators declared in his blog Cambios en Cuba (“Changes in Cuba”).
The journalist stated that information regarding the activities planned by the Ladies in White and UNPACU had been leaked, and that these consist in “looking for a direct confrontation with authorities through the use of violence, in order to pose as victims of repression later.”
“Similarly, counterrevolutionaries are also planning to divulge propaganda against the government and its main leaders,” Largarde added, apparently referring to the forum organized by Estado de Sats.
The First International Forum on Human Rights and UN Conventions is sponsored by Estado de Sats, in collaboration with the Foro Nuevo Pais (“New Country Forum”) and the Observatorio Cubano de Derechos Humanos (“Cuban Human Rights Observatory”). It will be held on December 10 and 11 at the home of Cuban dissident Antonio Rodiles, in Havana’s neighborhood of Playa.