Cuba on Tuesday denied government opponents permission to organize a “peaceful march for civil liberties” in the capital, Havana, and in five other provinces of the island, arguing that this demonstration is part of the efforts to overthrow the Government, according to a letter delivered to the organizers.
“The promoters (of this demonstration) and their public representatives, some of whom have ties to subversive organizations or agencies financed by the United States government, have the manifest intention of promoting a change in the political system in Cuba,” said the response of the authorities published by the official Cubadebate portal.
“The announced march, whose organizational scheme is conceived simultaneously for other territories of the country, constitutes a provocation” and “the reasons given for demonstrating are not recognized as legitimate,” said the communist government, which recalls the “irrevocable” nature of the socialist system Cuban, defined in the new Constitution approved in 2019 by “86.85% of the voters.”
The statement published by the Executive added that “in addition, as soon as the march was announced, it received public support from US legislators, political operators and the media that encourage actions against the Cuban people, try to destabilize the country and urge military intervention. ”.
The same response was given both in Havana and in six of the other provinces of the island (Holguín, Cienfuegos, Pinar del Río, Las Tunas, Santa Clara and Guantánamo) where the demonstration “against violence” had been requested and by the “change”.
Director Yunior García, Cuban playwright and actor, organizer of the planned demonstration in the capital, and a member of the Archipelago collective, lamented the accusations of financing by the US government.
The response of the Government authorities delivered this Tuesday to the notification for the holding of the Civic March for Change on November 15 informed the members of the Archipelago that “legitimacy is not recognized in the reasons they put forward for the march.” pic.twitter.com/rfNNxoNS8k
– Archipelago (@ArchipielagoCu) October 12, 2021
“Everything that the Cuban does, they always say that the idea comes from Washington, it is as if we do not think, as if we Cubans do not have a brain.”
Although “of course, every sensible Cuban wants a change for the better, they want more democracy, more progress, more freedom in Cuba,” he deplored.
The demonstration was originally scheduled for November 20, but last week the government declared that day “National Defense Day”, preceded by two days of military exercises.
“We could not be irresponsible, we did not want violence, we did not want Cubans to confront each other and we could not launch the protesters into a street fight against the army, which could react violently,” Garcia explained.
So “the most reasonable thing was to bring the demonstration forward” to November 15, the day the island reopens to tourism, he added.
Months after the unprecedented protests in July, discontent remains palpable on the island
These calls for protest come a few months after the July 11 demonstrations in some 50 cities on the island.
In these historic protests, thousands of people took to the streets shouting “We are hungry” and “Down with the dictatorship.” While the communist president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, recognized one dead and dozens of injured among the protesters, the human rights NGO Cubalex counted more than 600 arrests and disappearances in days of repression after the demonstrations.
Since then, many prisoners have been released, but others remain in prison, including many artists mobilized for three years against Decree 349, which requires them to obtain permission from the government to perform or sell their works. Meanwhile, authorities refuse to say how many people are still behind bars.
The July demonstrations on the island were the result of accumulated fatigue among the population, which has increased in recent months after one of the biggest economic and health crises that the island has experienced since the “special period”; that is, the crisis of the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Among others, two main reasons may explain the island’s economic difficulties: the economic collapse of Venezuela, its main supporter, and the strengthening of the embargo by former United States President Donald Trump, who applied 243 additional sanctions. Then, the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic – although controlled during the first months – and the economic measures adopted by the Government worsened living conditions on the island.
In 2020, the Cuban economy saw its GDP fall by 10.9%, its worst decline since 1993.
But beyond the economic demands, five and a half years after the death of Fidel Castro and three years after the departure of Raúl Castro from power, many Cubans, mainly those of the younger generation, are demanding changes.
Many ask President Miguel Díaz-Canel to allow other forms of ideological thought and dialogue between different opinions, which generates political tensions with the supporters of the revolution.
AFP, Reuters, local media