WorldCuban government warns that it will not allow peaceful protest called by...

Cuban government warns that it will not allow peaceful protest called by opponents

President Miguel Díaz-Canel, center, during a walk in the La Timba neighborhood of Havana last Friday.Alejandro Azcuy (EFE)

Political tension is growing in Cuba just weeks away from November 15, when opposition activists organized around the Archipelago platform called for a peaceful march “for change”, declared illegal by the government, but which its promoters insist on carrying out in several cities. of the country, based on the right to demonstrate provided for in the Constitution. This is unprecedented in Cuba. In more than 60 years of communist rule, official permission has never been asked before to protest against the government, openly defying the authorities with mobilizations in the streets, a dispute in which the rope gets tighter every day. After banning the march for considering it a “provocation” with “destabilizing purposes”, last Thursday the Public Ministry summoned the main organizers to inform them that, if they insist on taking to the streets on the 15th, they will incur in various offenses, such as disobedience, unlawful manifestation and incitement to crime, will be judged harshly. The Archipelago platform maintains the call, and President Miguel Díaz-Canel himself referred last Sunday to the march at a meeting of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), warning that there will be zero tolerance. “Here there are enough revolutionaries to face (…) any kind of demonstration that intends to destroy the Revolution”, he declared.

The message is clear. And it gives the dimension of how the so-called Civic March for Change — called to demand “the release of all political prisoners, the end of violence, respect for the rights of all Cubans and the solution of differences through democratic and peaceful ways” — turned the political chessboard in Cuba, which is still digesting the shock of the gigantic protests of July 11th.

It is revealing that Díaz-Canel dedicated a good part of his speech to the Central Committee of the PCC to this subject, with the presence of former president Raúl Castro. The president mentioned the facts of July, insisting that “they were just provocations and acts of vandalism” as part of an “unconventional war” strategy by the United States. “It is about maintaining a narrative that intends to present July 11 as a reference of rupture and popular rejection of the Revolution, and of attempts to take advantage of existing non-conformities to provoke destabilization,” he said. But that protest, he continued, “is not a reference of rupture; it is, in fact, a reference to unity, and July 11 was another victory for the Cuban Revolution. Revolutionaries came out to defend the Revolution with high morals, with a willingness to fight and win. They believed that the Revolution would be overthrown in a few hours, as they believed when the socialist camp fell, but again they were wrong”.

Without the commotion of the 11th of July there would have been no call for the 15th of November, which has become a new political watershed, generating great expectations about what will happen on that day on the island. For the government, the two dates are part of the same “destabilizing maneuvers” in Washington. “The declared objective of the US Government is to overthrow the Cuban Revolution. The enemy’s hope is that our great material difficulties will soften the people and bring them to their knees, which is why it feeds negligence with the idea that the country cannot resist”, according to Díaz-Canel. “The strategy,” he said, “is to create maximum discontent within our country. Foster instability through the worsening of the population’s living conditions, making it more and more difficult for us to survive, to lead us to the outbreak of a violent conflict”.

Playwright Yunior García, leader of the Archipelago and main promoter of the demonstration, considers that, by banning it, the Government made it clear “that it is not willing to establish any kind of civilized dialogue nor to open political spaces for citizens”. He and the other artists and activists involved in this civic platform reject the accusations of mercenarism made by the government and defend their right to demonstrate and to try to bring about change in Cuba through peaceful means. And they say they won’t stop. “We are not this litany of adjectives with which they try to disqualify us. We did not arrive by parachute to sow chaos and hecatomb. We are the fruit of our reality, hard and raw. We are like anyone who queues up and runs behind a bus and buys coffee under the covers, like anyone who understands how bad things are and swears that are uniquely ours. But there is something different; The government grinder of obedient continuisms or irrevocable dogmas no longer works. It’s up to us to make the word revolution once again it means change, and that the sovereignty is finally ours, of the citizens”, said García after notifying the prosecutors.

Hundreds of people who participated in the demonstrations on July 11 are still being held, and there is a risk of shock if the protest on the next 15th is maintained. “Let the imperialists know that they will have to fight against a people who do not let themselves be deceived, a people sufficiently numerous, brave and heroic to fight, which threats do not frighten!” said Díaz-Canel at the end of the Central Committee meeting.

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