Cuban Government Repression Stifles Protests

The streets of Havana remain with a strong police operation. (14ymedio)

“We are going to run out of young people, but hopefully the change will come soon”

By Natalia Lopez Moya (14ymedio)

HAVANA TIMES – Since dawn on Monday, plainclothes State Security agents could be seen deployed in squares, parks and took over the rooftops near the Capitolio building in Havana. They were part of the operation to prevent a Civic March called for three in the afternoon on this November 15th. In the end, the repression succeeded in preventing the protests from taking place.  

“This is hot,” shared Yuniel, a young man who gave testimony to 14ymedio in the vicinity of Central Park. This 28-year-old from Havana was one of the few who dared to leave his home, on a day in which many parents prevented their young children and adolescents from setting foot outside their homes for fear of their being arrested.

Undercover officers who pretended to be in line outside a shop, streets with few passers-by and vigilante groups on street corners marked this Monday. The repression managed to drown out the call to protest but also left a deep malaise among citizens, fed up with the increase in controls experienced on the island after the protests of July 11th.

When the clock struck three in the afternoon, the time agreed for the Civic March, the almost deserted streets in some areas of Central Havana, Old Havana, Cerro and Plaza de la Revolucion were the panorama that could be seen. Many restless political police officers on the street corners, the occasional passerby in their daily work, and some people dressed in white.

“Here on Prado there are police, military and many state security, the atmosphere is very tense. I also see the international press, red berets, and civilian mob types. When I was walking here I saw a small group dressed in white going up to Central Park, but very small,” described a young woman from the downtown walkway, who insisted on pointing out the presence of many disguised police, especially dressed in blue and red.”

A couple young people were arrested in the vicinity of the Paseo del Prado while shouting “Patria y Libertad” (Homeland and Freedom) under the terrified gazes of some neighbors who were watching them from balconies or windows. The two men, yet to be identified, were quickly intercepted, and arrested by police, according to a video posted on social media.

Galiano, one of the main streets of Centro Habana and used by the protesters on July 11, remains closed to vehicles from its beginning on Malecon Avenue to Reina Street. The street, a commercial artery with many portals and close to Paseo del Prado, was considered as an alternative for those summoned this 15N.

The day was atypical, without bustle or lines. “In one of the Carlos III stores they were selling bread and ham in national currency,” Yuniel said. One of the shop assistants showed her fear saying she was “dying to go home” but she had to be there until 9 pm. “They forced us to work,” she assured.

The bank branch on Calle Aranguren, which normally closes at 3:30 pm, closed early.” Today and tomorrow it closes at two in the afternoon,” said a guard to an astonished customer. Many private businesses did not open their doors and others warned their customers that they were suspending home delivery until Wednesday.

Dozens of activists, artists and independent journalists have been detained in the last hours or remain under siege since Sunday to prevent them from leaving their homes. One of the few people who has been able to evade the police siege was the independent reporter Iliana Hernández, who left to march at 3 pm.

“My mission was to show them [the government] that it was not impossible to escape as I have done on other occasions,” Hernandez said in a video shared by CiberCuba. She also assured that at some point in the next few hours they will arrest her, but said the important thing was that at three in the afternoon she was on the street “dressed in gray because today is a gray day for Cuba.” She added: “It is sad that we have to live this way, but we are fighting not to have to live like this anymore.”

Despite the surveillance, some went out dressed in white to tour the city, the color that the organizers of the call had promoted. Others showed their sympathy with the March in different ways. A 60-year-old state worker proudly showed the screen of her cellphone with an image of her cousin “making an L with her hand the symbol of freedom” and let 14ymedio know her support for 15N.

“I do not see an end to this, if every time someone disagrees, they respond with a hate rally,” said the woman. “We are going to run out of young people, this is the saddest thing, but hopefully [the change] will come soon.”

Meanwhile Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, described as a “failed operation” this Monday the call for a peaceful march, declared illegal by the Government.

“There is a lot to talk about all the good that has happened, and there are also some things to reveal about this failed operation they tried to articulate and has been a complete failure,” speaking in a live broadcast from the Foreign Ministry on Facebook.

Rodríguez dedicated a large part of his speech to highlighting Cuba’s reopening for tourism and spoke about the #CubaVive label used by the ruling party in the last hours to show that the Island is living in “normal tranquility.” The hashtag also appears on several posters used by the Rapid Response Brigades and repressors in hate rallies against opponents and members of the Archipelago platform.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.

10 thoughts on “Cuban Government Repression Stifles Protests

  • I guess yesterday turned out to be all too predictable.
    The protests in July had the element of spontaneity and took the authorities by surprise.
    This time around the government had prior warning, they weren’t caught out with their pants down and they and their supporters snuffed out any potential for sparks.
    Will the protest and then the subsequent non-protest go down as key moments in years to come?
    Or will they be looked back upon as blips during the strange and unparalleled time of Covid?

  • This is the way the dictatorship defended its glorious “revolution’ five repressors against one person trying to go on the street. If the really know that the 85% of the Cuban population support the regime they wouldn’t act this way.

  • Dan is so evidently irrational. On one hand he says of “Patria y Vida” that it is a “meaningless empty slogans”, but then concludes by using the slogan: “Patria o Muerte”.

    Dan has the temerity to suggest that I must consider Cubans to be a “bunch of sissies” and by so doing displays his own opinion.

    He should know that my regard for Cubans remains as previously declared in May, 2016:

    “For the people of Cuba there remains only that faint hope which they have tenaciously clung onto for so many long years. Hope for the younger generations that they may yet know freedom and opportunity to live in their beautiful country free of repression, with freedom of expression, freedom of the media and freedom to vote for parties of choice. Cubans deserve no less, for only then will they become members of an open society in a free world that waits to welcome them with open arms. Liberty and that poignant cry for freedom beckon, and humanity demands.”

    It is that freedom, to which Dan is so opposed, in his support for repression of others, whilst he himself exploits his own freedoms. Do I regard such views with contempt? Yes !

  • False Dan the Cubans are quite fearful of the unelected dictatorship.
    They imprison, fine, lash out at anyone who speaks out.

    Patria y vida is fine free speech, something Cuba denies to their people.
    We already know you are loyal to dictatorship, tyranny, oppression.

  • “Carlyle MacDuff – and your Miami friends! How about you lobby the US government to help Cuba and your homeland as opposed to lobbying for your homeland, your family and your friends to be treated as badly as possible?! What you are asking for is a Government overthrow.”

    Need a translation for this gibberish Curt.

  • Well, Olga says “Cubans have lost their fear”. This is true. In fact, they never had any real fear, not like Haitians, Indonesians or Guatemalans have had. Truth is, most don’t want to be traitors and blindly follow meaningless,empty slogans like Patria y vida. The government supporters are like Nixon’s Silent Majority. They’re there. I would say that there’s no denying it, although these vende-patrias deny it constantly. Carlyle and friends who will now try to spin the jaw-dropping lack of anything coming of 11/15 must believe that Cubans are a bunch of sissies. I could go on an on with instances of governments with unlimited brutality, such as the US backed Shah in Iran, facing nonetheless, enormous protests and eventual overthrow. If the majority of Cubans did in fact oppose their government, the streets would have been filled and there would be little that the government could do. But most Cubans are still, Patria o Muerte.

  • Protesters dressed in white? Ever heard of a religion called santeria?

  • Carlyle MacDuff – and your Miami friends! How about you lobby the US government to help Cuba and your homeland as opposed to lobbying for your homeland, your family and your friends to be treated as badly as possible?! What you are asking for is a Government overthrow.

  • It was all as I anticipated when writing three weeks ago. Growing levels of intimidation, with greater levels of MININT police in both uniform and civilian clothing increasingly evident, foreign journalists confined, Internet shut of at the forecast time of 8 a.m., street layouts studied to decide which to close, and not a single murmur from the Jesuit Pope Francis. A few brave souls defying the repression, who doubtless will be sought out and jailed. There will be more prattle that it was all a plot by outside sources funded by the US, and claims that the majority of the Cuban people are supportive of the Diaz-Canel Junta.

    Forecasting communist reaction is not difficult, for nothing changes. Everything follows the Party line based upon the interpretation by Uncle Joe Stalin of Marx/Engels/Lenin, so admired by Raul Castro.

    Diaz-Canel had to be seen as in control.

    But the resentments grow as does the pursuit of that individuality of thought that lurks despite the repression.

  • Any government in the world that feels threatened by another country will have less tolerance for dissent. Look what happened in the US after 911 with the Patriot Act. The main provisions of the act were1) expanded surveillance abilities of law enforcement, 2) indefinite detention without trial , and (3 permission given to law enforcement to search property and records without a warrant. Sound familiar? Fortunately most of the provisions have been abolished years later.

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