Is the Violent Repression Justified in Cuba?

Top figures of Cuban Culture Alarmed

Government supporters attacking peaceful demonstrators, answer the call to battle made by President Diaz-Canel. Photo: AFP

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.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.


8 thoughts on “Is the Violent Repression Justified in Cuba?

  • July 17, 2021 at 9:45 am
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    The reaction of the government is not in keeping with the alleged democratic commitment of The Revolution. A government that does not listen to the people is The Repression. Besides losing the support of many Cubans, the government may be losing the support of the international community.

  • July 16, 2021 at 6:41 am
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    The Cuban gov for the last 30 years has stopped both small businesses and people in other countries that wanted to help out the lower income workers in Cuba and those with health issues. Cuba has taken aid help including bikes and seeds and fertilizer and medical supplies and equipment fridges wind generators batteries and kept them for their use. 4 years ago 20 new mountain bikes were given to homecare nurses after we left the police took some them. They were seen being used by the police next year.

  • July 14, 2021 at 3:18 pm
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    Olga
    Your comment is factually incorrect.
    Sadly, there has already been blood spilled in the streets.

    Some people would like to see this escalate.
    I would prefer it didn’t.

  • July 14, 2021 at 11:20 am
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    May July 11th, 7/11 be remembered as being as significant as July 26 in the history books. The 7/11 movement should be a begining of social change on this beautiful island.

  • July 14, 2021 at 9:50 am
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    Nick the blood is not in the street the Cuban dictatorship works like the mafia that it is.

  • July 14, 2021 at 6:08 am
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    Clearly there are the same old opposing sides to the story.
    I would say that neither side has a history of sticking to the facts.
    It seems obvious that there is an influential element which have seen trumpism and now covid as being perfect opportunities to further their ambitions. It would be astonishing if this were not the case.
    I agree with much of M. Brown has written – particularly that the Cuban Government could and should have responded differently. Given the Covid situation, they should embark upon a system of food distribution to ensure everyone gets a decent share without risking their health in long lines.
    I understand that if an economy loses its main source of income (tourism), it will suffer. Especially if it has little access to credit.
    But Cuba needed a far smarter response. Inflexibility will get you nowhere. They need to address what is causing people to be pissed off.

    Social unrest can happen anywhere. In the Americas it is relatively common anywhere south of the Canada/US border. The response from authorities is often pretty damn brutal.
    In Cuba unrest is rare. For various reasons. That’s why this is big news.
    And make no mistake – there are those who will be very pleased to see this.
    They will be highly excited.
    The 1994 Maleconazo was the last time Cuba had this type of unrest. The legend goes that Fidel Castro himself went to speak to the demonstrators against the advice of his security. He diffused the situation. He flipped it. This incident simply added to the whole mythology.
    He’s long dead now. The Cuban Government has no one with that kind of aura or charisma to flip this type of situation.
    Cuba is highly militarised. As in other parts of the Americas, their response to unrest can also be pretty damn unnecessarily brutal.
    I hope this doesn’t escalate. There are many people in Cuba who are dear to me. I just want them to be safe. Blood on the streets is no solution to anything.

  • July 13, 2021 at 9:59 pm
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    I reject the jaded propaganda from both sides. I support the ideals of the Cuban revolution and I support those protestors who took to the streets oblivious of any manipulation by mercenaries of the regime-change bent enemy of Cuba.

    Of course, the shortages are the result of the total, intensified economic warfare unleashed by the Trump administration and vigorously maintained by the hypocritical Biden administration. It has been worsened by the pandemic – and also the insensitive, insane capitalist-bureaucratic methods used by the Cuban leadership to deal with it. The establishment of foreign currency (MLC) stores was a travesty of all ethics, socialist or capitalist in this terrible situation. So is the wasting of precious money on, for example, the construction of a hotel to promote LGBT tourism. What market research indicates that LGBT tourists or any other group of tourists will be flocking to Havana in their thousands post pandemic? What market research indicates that most Cubans have foreign currency to use in the “dollar” stores? Some out of touch bureaucrat is whipping up pie-in-the sky projects at a time of great suffering for the populace! Opening up Cuba to unvaccinated Russian tourists has now brought the devasting third wave of Covid to Cuba!

    I do not support violence or vandalism in any form. But I jubilate that protestors broke into and emptied the dollar stores of much needed food. You do not resort to high-end profit making devices at a time of great need among an already-impoverished people. The current leadership should have informed the Cuban people that a heightened, all-out economic war had now been initiated by the Trump administration. They should then have come up with socialist-oriented plans and submit them to the people to discuss at every level. From the CDRs to the People’s Power assembly. They should have set up specialized committees of experts to coordinate in a dialectical manner a popular response. When the pandemic hit, Cuba should have gone into wartime mode! If it required that soldiers be brought in to distribute food, it should have been done, instead of condemning the citizenry to the hazard of standing in queues for hours and exposing them to Covid19! In fact, socialist welfare actions should have been instituted whereby the most impoverished and vulnerable would have free food distributed to them, instead of the insane capitalist measures of selling vital food items only in the dollar stores and leaving the national currency stores half-empty. Soldiers should have been sent in to the farms to help cultivate and harvest food instead of the counter-productive and costly system of importing 80% of the food eaten in Cuba.

    Diaz-Canel should get off his high horse and worn-out sloganeering, and adopt a bottom-up approach to resolving the serious situation in Cuba. There is a need for serious, popular participatory democratic methods. Intensified education of, consultation with, and participation of the populace on how to face the economic aggression of the US. Cuba should also seriously seek help from its allies, particularly Russia, China,Vietnam and Iran. Cuba should have gone for the Sputnik vaccine while developing its own. To have left the populace without any vaccines while scientists were developing the Soberana and Abdala vaccines was unconscionable. Vietnam is also developing its own vaccine but they went in for both the Russian Sputnik and the UN-sponsored Covax vaccines.

  • July 13, 2021 at 5:39 pm
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    According to some ppl that are regulars commenting in this pages because violence happens every where in the world the government of Cuba is justified to repression and violence, and if you say anything else they repeat the word Embargo hundred times to defend the indefensible. The dictatorship has oppressed tortured, kill, imprisonments any one who had dare to protests against the horrendous government they used getting away with literally with murder before the internet age but now everyone have a camera and the whole world can see it. The dictatorship used to call anyone to become a dissident CIA agent well on Sunday July 11th 2021 the CIA Payroll got really big in Havana I guess.

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