November in Cuba, What Can We Expect?

Photo: Juan Suarez

By Carlyle MacDuff

HAVANA TIMES – Those Cubans who sought permission to hold demonstrations initially on November 20th 2021 in towns and cities across Cuba, gave four reasons for doing so. They were: the release of political prisoners, the end of violence, respect for Cubans rights and solving problems by democratic and peaceful channels. The reaction of the government was to declare that same date as National Defense Day. In response, the organizers changed the date for the demonstrations to November 15.

The expressed views of President Miguel Diaz-Canel to the demonstrations held on July 11th in many communities included describing the demonstrators as provocative counterrevolutionaries, destabilizing law and order, demonstrating hate, vengeance and violence and “promoting views counter to the Ideas of Fidel”. Unprepared, his immediate reaction was to order MININT State Police, some in civilian clothing and ”revolutionaries” onto the streets to attack, beat and arrest hundreds of citizens. ETECSA shut down cell-phone services and the Internet and road traffic stopped.

On July 11th Cuban president Miguel Diaz Canel gave the order for Cubans to attack Cubans.

It is beyond question that the communist government was surprised and severely shaken, subsequently suggesting that the protests were a consequence of the actions of the US through the CIA infiltrating, inciting and funding insurrection. It is also beyond question that there has been internal study within MININT, of why the CDR system failed to give warning. This time however, the government has had ample time to plan its actions on November 15th.

Twentieth century history includes many previous attempts by those oppressed by communism, to protest and endeavor to gain freedom. It would be folly to imagine that the communist government of Cuba has not reviewed those endeavors and planned its own way to counteract and punish any similar endeavors in Cuba. Studies will have especially considered Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland.

During the late summer of 1956, dissent in Hungary led by students, brought huge crowds onto the streets threatening to become an insurrection. The reaction by the Soviets was for the Russian tanks to roll in along with troops and to ruthlessly suppress.

In August 1968, there was an uprising in Prague, capital of Czechoslovakia, later described as the “Prague Spring”, which rapidly gained strength and was led by Alexander Dubcek, who twenty years later, following the implosion of the USSR, became President. By that time, the Warsaw Pact had been formed, and there was a Soviet invasion with tanks and troops which mercilessly re-established communist control.

Fidel Castro as President of Cuba, commented upon the new regulations introduced by Dubcek, saying:

“Certain measures were taken such as the establishment of a bourgeois form of freedom of the press. This means the counterrevolution and the exploiters, the very enemies of socialism, were granted the right to speak and write freely against socialism.”

Communist opposition to freedom of speech, with the imposition of censorship and State control of all forms of media forms a key role in establishing and maintaining Cuba’s dictatorship. That was clarified much earlier by ‘Che’ Guevara when he wrote:

“We must do away with all newspapers. A revolution cannot be accomplished with freedom of the press.”

Poland having knowledge of the failed endeavors in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, developed a more subtle means of resisting communist repression and control, having an ally of international magnitude in Pope John Paul, who was himself Polish. He first visited his country of birth as Pope, in June 1979 and met with Lech Walesa who then in August 1980 formed an independent shipyard workers union named Solidarity at Gdansk. Then in 1983, Walesa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, gaining world reputation, and Pope John Paul made a second visit that year. In July 1985, Solidarity then went on a prolonged strike. In 1987 Pope John Paul made his third visit and the rot of communism was well underway. Walesa was like Dubcek, to become President of his country when it cast off the communist yoke.

Photo: Juan Suarez

The Castros learned from the experiences of others, adopting ideas which they regarded as successful. Examples include the Committee for Defense of the Revolution (CDR) which is modelled upon the East Germany’s Stasi, and rejecting the concept of independent labor unions. In Cuba workers all belong to the Central Union of Cuban Workers (CTC), the General Secretary being Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento, coincidentally a member of the Political Bureau of the PCC and a Deputy in the Poder Popular.

Nacimiento is to be seen at all meetings of political significance in Cuba, usually sitting central in the front row of the audience and easily recognizable with his pudgy cheeks. In his parlance, the word solidarity means compliance. It is the CTC that organizes the “demonstrations” in favor of the revolution, including bringing in busloads of workers to the May Day parade in Revolution Square and providing all the flags and banners.

Security is always controlled by the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) which controls the State Police, including those who pose as civilians in plain clothes and to which the CDR reports to: “who lives on every block, what they do on every block, in what activities are they involved and with whom they meet.” As mentioned earlier, it was a combination of MININT and members of the CTC loyal to the revolution, that were involved in instigating the violence demonstrated at the urging of Diaz-Canel on the streets of Cuba on July 11 and viewed internationally.

Protestors in Cuba or elsewhere, need not to expect the current Pope to encourage cries for freedom from communism. His coat is cut from an entirely different cloth than that of Pope John Paul. He has visited Cuba twice, the first time to carry out a normal Papal visit including going to Santiago, and to visit the ex-communicated and aging Fidel Castro at Siboney. On the second occasion he met with Raul Castro and the Russian Orthodox Patriach of Moscow, perhaps best known for his wardrobe of fancy hats. Meeting with dissidents – those similar to Lech Walesa, is not his norm. Diaz-Canel need not fear his intervention.

So, what steps can be expected from Raul Castro’s successor (although Raul still lurks in the background)?  Initial endeavors as illustrated by the introduction of National Defense Day, will be to intimidate. An increase in police presence, visits to those who signed the requests to demonstrate with perhaps longer sentences given to those imprisoned following July 11th. The objective being to reduce numbers demonstrating and minimize international observation and commentary. That in turn will demand any foreign reporters being both warned and confined to their hotels. 

Photo by Juan Suarez

However, there is obvious determination afoot and some may refuse to be intimidated and accept that they may well be jailed and separated from their families. Few Cubans are not aware of Villa Marista and that few who are accused do not confess following entry. MININT goons are not trained to be sympathetic.

It can be anticipated that ETECSA will shut down cell-phone services and the Internet – perhaps as early as 8.00 a.m. and it is possible that well-armed military presence will appear. Street layouts will have been studied. The Diaz-Canel government will be certain to ensure that they have far greater strength than the demonstrators but will also try to confine weapons to non-lethal ones – they want to avoid creating martyrs, being aware of international opinion and concerned about tourism revenues.  

If despite all the government endeavors to prevent them, demonstrations occur, the MININT goons in both uniform and civilian clothing will have a heavy presence along with loyal CTC “revolutionaries” suitably clad and armed with staffs. There is a possibility that a couple of worn-out Police Lada cars will be sacrificed as torches, to be credited to the violence of the demonstrators along with a few shop windows – staffs have more than one purpose.

Whatever takes place, Diaz-Canel, must and will appear to be in complete control.

The world may expect on November 16th, that the US in the form of the CIA in particular, but also certain news media, including the BBC, CNN, the Spanish EFE and the French France Presse will be accused of incitement and perhaps banned. All imagination? One can hope so. Time only will tell.

Read more by Carlyle MacDuff here on Havana Times.

19 thoughts on “November in Cuba, What Can We Expect?

  • At the end of the day Mr MacD has written a fine and interesting article.
    It touches on events of decades ago in three ‘Eastern Bloc’ countries during the Cold War. And just for good measure, it confirms who Mr MacD’s Papal favourites are!!!
    Elio (RIP) used to write articles which were also often interesting, touched on various historical events and were always put together so the narrative backed up his own political perspective. And that’s fine. It was always totally clear what Elio’s perspective was and where his loyalties lay.
    Mr MacD has done something similar, but with a narrative designed to back up his own very different perspective.
    And for what it’s worth, my opinion is that there is absolutely nothing wrong in that whatsoever.

  • Diaz-Canel has found yet another way of distracting attention away from protests on November 15th! Cuba’s schools have been closed for many months, but suddenly they are going to re-open! The date for doing so, has now been decided! Surprise, surprise! Monday November 15th! Parents will have to concentrate on getting those uniforms into condition, and the students up to the age of 18, will be unavailable to protest

    In the meantime, Nick is busy discussing the activities of two East European countries which somehow he considers more relevant to protests in communist Cuba, than previous protests in other communist controlled countries.

    Regarding Papal visits, the significant points are what did the Popes concerned do during those visits? Francis chose to spend a chunk of his time with an ex-communicated former dictator of Jesuit persuasion, rather than following the example of predecessors and meeting dissidents. On his next visit, he met solely with dictator Raul Castro and Kirill, Patriach of Moscow and All the Russias Orthodox Church, who was in Cuba at the behest of Vladamir Putin.

    But perhaps Nick will connect the return of students to school in Cuba, with a fascist plot in Poland and Hungary fomented and funded by the US ?

  • Changes are potentially on the way in Cuba…….
    Two former Cold War allies of Cuba are currently heading in a very right wing and sinister direction.
    And Mr MacD is suggesting there’s no relevance?
    I’m suggesting that there’s more relevance in this than in what took place decades ago. And I would suggest it’s more relevant than having a little bit of a dig at the third papal visit to Cuba.
    There’s no confusion on my part. I fully understand the points that the neat narrative of the article is making.
    But everyone takes their own point of view.

  • Nick clearly is confused. The key word being relevance! Poland an Hungary in 2021 are not relevant to Cuba and communist repression. Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia’s uprisings in 1987, 1956 and 1968 are! But it was a good try NIck!

    Mr. Shertzer has a short memory, as I have had previous articles in HT – for example about propaganda and more significantly in his interests, fellow travellers.

    As he has an interest in Spanish, he can also read the article in the Spanish edition of HT.

  • Thanks Dan for your admittedly wise and well informed words.

  • Mr MacD, You mentioned Poland and Hungary. I pick up on the fact that you refer to them only in a long-past Cold War sense rather than in a modern sense. We do not live in the Cold War era, we live in 2021. That’s not deflecting, it’s broadening the debate. It’s bringing the subject up to date.
    And by the way the regime in Belarus doesn’t sound too good to me. I’m no expert on Belarus at all, but it certainly sounds like the leader is in Putin’s pocket. As was trump.
    There will undoubtedly be changes in Cuba. As I’ve said on many occasions, I hope that these changes are more for the better rather than for the worse. I suspect there will be a bit of both.
    Some Conservatives are fine. No problem with them. Others drift out further and further toward the right and hook up with some baaaaad people out there. That’s when it always becomes problematic. Both historically and currently.
    For Brad and Kris and whoever else who supports very right wing regimes such as those in Poland and Hungary, I shall tell you this:
    I hope that whatever happens in Cuba, they don’t ever take the twisted and sinister path that those two countries are currently on.

  • Hi Circles. Admittedly, it’s pure speculation on my part. But it’s based on historic documentation of the incredible rivers of money that the CIA has traditionally spent on journalists and the media throughout the world. Usually, the recipients of this money were not even aware of it’s actual source. Of course this business has largely been handed over to the National Endowment for Democracy and other institutions.

    I’m sorry if you’re actually not getting a paycheck though, because your website is certainly doing exactly what the US government would want you to do, and hence, you deserve one.

  • Hey Dan, could you do me a favor, tell me who my boss is? I want to complain that I haven’t received a paycheck for over 13 years. Once again, you seem to know more about me than I do. Best, Circles

  • Poland and Hungary have elections with opposition parties.
    Not sure why we are talking about them as it’s completely irrelevant obviously more deflection by Nick.

    Cuba has a nasty tyranny Nick supports the nasty tyranny and oppression.
    End of story.

  • Carlyle – Felicidades asere ! You hit the big time and made the jump from lowly poster, to contributer ! Not that “Open Minded” HT needed another anti-communist polemicist in their ranks, but hey, Circles has got to please his boss. How’s your Spanish coming by the way ?

  • You are right Nick, I don’t know much about you except that you cherish communist ideas. About me I’m Polish – American speaking 6 languages who also lived in Cuba and I’m speaking through vast experience. Let readers judge. I hope Cuba as well or their nation will forever drop all dictatorship and communism which is as a dictatorship. There is no difference between Castor, Hitler or Stalin.

  • Nick is trying very VERY hard to divert attention away from Cuba, communist intimidation and repression, onto the current politics of Poland and Hungary – both of which are irrelevant to the subject!

    Smart move if one supports the Cuban regime!

    Amusing, because It was Nick, who spoke of my “cherry picking” regarding reference to uprisings and protest in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

    Note, that Nick has avoided responding to comment about Belarus and the actions of Lukashenko!

  • Oh no !!!
    Here comes another.
    Kris, you have no idea about me, my life or my experiences.
    Despite this, you choose to troll me.
    I suggest you try to find out about that big old world out there.

  • More absurd allegations from Brad.
    The man who doesn’t give a straightforward answer to a straightforward question.
    Seeing as you cannot come up with an answer for my usual question regarding why there are so many chronically failing Capitalist countries, here’s another one for you:
    Are you in favour of the very right wing regimes in Poland and Hungary?
    Nice easy question Brad.
    Go for it……

  • Nick doesn’t believe in democracy free will, free media, free choice.
    He wants an imposed system communism, without opposition parties to rule without end.

    A military junta type rule.

  • It looks as Nick doesn’t have a clue or is blinded communist. In Hungary and Poland they have democratically elected governments that are protecting will of their people. Every one can express their opinion and protest as they wish. Try to protest in Russia, Cuba or Venezuela and you will quickly find out the difference. Nick perhaps never experienced government violence and aggression so he just doesn’t understand what is it like to be helpless. I did so Nick if you can open up listen to experienced people and don’t form opinions that you don’t understand. Just don’t make fool out of yourself.

  • The current situations in Poland and Hungary are not particularity relevant to Cuba. But they are relevant to Poland and Hungary.
    It’s like mentioning the Titanic without reference to the iceberg.
    The fact that these two countries are heading further and further toward the very right wing end of the spectrum is very worrying. Hopefully they, unlike the Titanic, steer away from the course they are on.
    The current situation in these two countries is not referred to in the article because it doesn’t fit into the neat narrative. Fair enough.

  • I find Nick’s comments interesting and in particular his view that somehow the current political positions of Poland and Hungary are relevant to the potential actions of the Cuban communist regime. I find it odd, because both are being criticized – and correctly, for being “unpleasant, very right wing ultra nationalistic governments”. Their particular concern is to stop the flow of immigrants into their countries, scarcely a concern relevant for Diaz-Canel.

    Diaz-Canel and his junta are communists and therefore more likely to study the methods used by fellow communists to repress any indication of dissent. However, as a consequence of Nick’s regret that I did not include more recent examples of quelling potential uprisings, let me provide one, which perhaps ought to have been included, that of Belarus.

    President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus is widely regarded as a dictator being in power since 1994 and a puppet maintained and advised by Vladamir Putin, who as a former KGB Colonel, has deep knowledge and experience of repression. Lukashenko has a known record of badly beating protesters and continuing to do so when they are jailed. Readers will recall that recently, he imprisoned Maria Kalesinikova, the opposition leader with a sentence of 11 years, having failed in his endeavor to evict her from Belarus when she in response tore up her passport to prevent Lithuania from accepting her. There lies a model for Diaz-Canel and that explains jailing a mere protester for 3 years.

    Kalesinikova’ became leader of the opposition, succeeding her husband who had been jailed. Her campaign against Lukashenko was based upon seeking “positive change” – which is remarkably similar to that which is sought by those in Cuba who seek change, patria y vida.

    How is that for another “cherry”?

    Regarding Papal involvement, yes Pope Francis is the first Jesuit Pope, and Fidel Castro was a fellow Jesuit. It is a well-known Jesuit expression that: “The end justifies the means.” Maybe that explains why John Paul and Benedict did not participate in a tete a tete with Raul Castro and Kirill?

  • I am also curious to see what will happen. I’m curious as well to see if MrMacD’s predictions come true.
    It’s always interesting to how Mr MacD cherry picks facts and events which back up his theories. Sometimes it’s very telling to note what has been left out of the frame.
    For example there is mention of Hungary in the 50s and Poland in the 70s/80s with reference to Communism. There is reference to these countries in a Cold War context but not in any kind of modern context. These two countries are scourges of the EU. They are run by two of the most unpleasant, very right wing ultra nationalistic governments one can find anywhere. Waging war on immigrants, on followers of non-Christian and on women’s rights to equality. Both of these right wing regimes have ushered in an end to the separation of government and judiciary. Both aligned themselves wholeheartedly with that lying trump fella.
    Things perhaps not turning out quite so rosey in these two countries huh?

    And there seems to be a bit of a swipe at Good Pope Francis.
    I’m no expert on papal movements but I think I’m right in saying that the first Pope ever to go to Cuba was John Paul ll. He met with Fidel Castro. His successor Pope Benedict followed suit by visiting The Pearl of the Caribbean and meeting Fidel Castro. It would have been very weird of Pope Francis not to have followed in the footsteps of his two immediate predecessors. Especially given that he is a Latin American Jesuit.
    Let’s just face it, whether MrMacD approves or not, it seems like all of them old Pope dudes just wanted to hang out with Fidel Castro!!!

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