Top figures of Cuban Culture Alarmed
By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES – The protests that startled all of Cuba on July 11th have led to numerous pronouncements both in favor and opposed to the fierce government repression of peaceful demonstrators.
In the official media, the protestors are either mercenaries and counterrevolutionaries paid by the United States or at best confused by those on the payroll. There is a constant barrage on TV and other media trying to convince the population at home and public opinion abroad, that there is no homegrown reason to protest against a caring Communist Party government and its dedicated leaders.
Some statements from official media reports include:
“Provocations orchestrated by counterrevolutionary elements, organized and financed by the United States to destabilize our country.”
“Members of the Party’s highest leadership body discussed the exemplary response of the Cuban people to comrade Díaz-Canel’s call to defend the Revolution in the streets, making possible the defeat of these subversive actions.”
“Enemies of the Revolution want to take advantage of our problems to apply the social unrest formula they have used in other countries; but with Cuba there are no formulas that work.”
“We are here because the streets belong to Fidel, because the streets of Cuba belong to revolutionaries.”
“Fidel, Raul and Díaz-Canel are here,” “Patria o Muerte, Venceremos” (Homeland or Death, We will win).”
“Fidel, this is your people, and the streets belong to the people. The order has been given and we are here. We are going to win, in spite of COVID-19, in spite of whatever.”
“The quarrel was tough here, but there were more revolutionaries. The saboteurs ran away to hide, probably to some cave, like rats usually do. Let no one doubt it, this country belongs to the people, and will continue to belong to us.”
Additionally, there were numerous references to the US embargo (called a blockade by the Cuban government and supporters) as the main reason for Cuba’s economic crisis and the government’s failure to meet the most basic needs of the population.
Acclaimed artists speak out
Statements from acclaimed artists who had for the most part been acritical or timid on government policies were assembled by Diario de Cuba. These included:
Jazz pianist Chucho Valdes: “It hurts a lot to see the inhumane conditions” people are living in. “Enough of the deceit and lies. Humanitarian aid is urgently needed.”
Guitarrist and Composer Leo Brower: “What pain, how sad to see such an abuse of power! I never imagined seeing Cuba’s law enforcement attacking other ordinary and peaceful Cuban people.” He added: “When the Cuban people protest, there is no doubt that the politics, or better said, the political and military power, have gone too far! How can they live tranquilly?”, after caring out such repression.
Painter Lázaro Saavedra was so abhorred by the repression that he said he would no longer exhibit his works in State cultural institutions.
“I just watched this video. I repeated it several times. Since yesterday, July 11th, they cut Internet and data trying to keep the live videos from circulating. I have seen some horrendous things, it’s too much,” referring to the police brutality.
“There is no justification for this excessive use of force against civilians and much less the intervention of special forces. I won’t be showing anymore at State institutions, and I just cancelled my upcoming personal exposition with the work of my two children. Instead, I’ll do it at my house,” said Saavedra.
Singer Haydee Milanes said the Cuban government has the obligation to listen to the population. “It’s unacceptable that the authorities are calling for a clash among Cubans. Enough now of the violence!”
Singer Aymee Nuviola expressed her solidarity with the protestors. “Cuba belongs to all Cubans. Nobody can takeaway from us what God gave us when we were born on this beautiful island with our other compatriots.”
Emilio Frias, leader of the band El Niño y la Verdad, said, “the pain is no longer just pain, little by little it becomes rage, impotence and outrage seeing all the videos circulating on the social networks.”
He added: “How can they hit people who are only asking to be heard, who are suffering hunger and diseases, without food or medicines? How can you send Cubans out to attack Cubans? They are not mercenaries as the government says, they are a desperate people that ask for a change, and which has reached a breaking point.
“We are not confused; we are clearer than ever. This isn’t the land Marti dreamed of nor is it the one I want for my daughters. I’m a people’s artist and everything I have I owe it to the people, and this is my moment to be on the side of the people. Long Live a Free Cuba,” he added.
Musician Cucurucho Valdes stated: “I am with my people, with those ordinary people who want to be listened to and went out to express themselves, despite not knowing what would happen to them the following day! These are real men and women. Respect for our right to speak out, enough of the beatings.”
Diario de Cuba notes that at least 150 persons were arrested around the country after the protests, although that data and the whereabouts of the detained is still being gathered by the activists.