By Benjamin Noria
HAVANA TIMES – According to the Royal Spanish Academy, the word “sabotage” means: the ill-intentioned obstruction of an activity, idea, project, etc.
Well, this is exactly what the Cuban government wants to do to the protest that is set to take place on November 15, 2021 on the streets of some Cuban provinces, such as Pinar del Rio and Havana.
In September this year, some people representing Archipielago, a group led by the young and brave Cuban intellectual and playwright Yunior Garcia Aguilera, to promote political changes in the country (not a change in government) asked provincial government bodies for authorization to protest on November 20, 2021, for Cuba’s freedom; and against the unjust imprisonment of political prisoners.
Some days later, every provincial government that had received a letter requesting authorization to protest, replied that the protest would not be authorized as it is considered illegal because it is being funded and encouraged by the US government. They provided no irrefutable evidence to support this claim. By sheer coincidence, they all replied with the same argument based on Articles 4 and 45 of the Cuban Constitution.
Article 4 of our Constitution stipulates that the Socialist system that this Constitution supports is irrevocable, and Article 45 states that: the exercise of these individual rights are only limited by the rights of others, collective security, general well-being, respect for public order, the Constitution, and laws.
That said, let me give you an example from Cuban linguist Rodolfo Alpizar Castillo, that I’ve taken from an article published in La Joven Cuba on October 25, 2021, which might run counter to the provincial governors’ arguments:
“If a group assembles to demand that milk rations are extended to children aged up to 10 years old and not like the corresponding Law stipulates, are they violating Article 45? Would the protest be illegal? Is demanding changes to the ration system a call to revoke Socialism? If a group of people living in Miami declare their support for this protest and urge more people, in more places across Cuba, to make similar demands, could we say that this protest for children to have milk is an annexionist attempt, supported by mercenaries who serve the Imperialist enemy?”
I think that the matter here is exactly like Rodolfo Alpizar’s comparison. The government has reacted the same way regarding the 15N protest as before… with the Varela Project two decades ago. That civic proposal was conceived and led by Oswaldo Paya, a Cuban activist and opposition leader, who died under mysterious circumstances in a car accident in Granma province, in 2012.
The National Assembly initially said that the group hadn’t collected the 10,000 signatures needed for the reforms the Varela Project was asking for, and then as soon as they were about to present the 10,000+ signatures they’d collected, the Cuban government made a sudden ammendment to the Constitution.
Archipielago requested authorization for the protest on November 20th, but the government decided to hold the Moncada Military Exercise on the 18th and 19th that would end with the National Day of Defense on the 20th, with the presence of leaders and government bodies.
Archipielago then decided to reschedule the protest for November 15th. Then the Attorney General’s Office made a public announcement a few days ago on national TV and social media, as a warning that those who insist on going ahead with the protest will face severe criminal charges.
It couldn’t be any clearer: The Cuban government wants to sabotage the 15N protest, what’s new?