Cuban activists called for new demonstrations for November 15, the same day the island will open its doors to tourism. The Cuban authorities have denied the permits demanded by the organizers of the marches on the grounds that it is a provocation supported from abroad. Despite the refusals, the opponents will seek to take to the streets to show their discontent, which was already expressed in the historic July demonstrations.
A call that is proposed as the continuation of the historic demonstrations of last July in Cuba.
The opposition to the government has called for new protests for November 15 throughout the island to express their dissatisfaction with the arrests and repression of four months ago.
However, the authorities have repeatedly denied the organizers’ permission to carry out the “Civic March for Change.” The demonstration was first scheduled for November 20, but the Government of Miguel Díaz-Canel denied the possibility of holding it, accusing the promoters of receiving incentives from the United States and of seeking a “regime change.”
Despite the refusals, the organizers of the marches say they will take to the streets.
Now, the date of the call coincides with the reopening of the island to tourism, the main economic source of the country, as well as with the celebrations planned for the 502 anniversary of Havana, the capital. For what President Díaz-Canel was emphatic in telling the parliamentarians that “no one is going to spoil the party.”
For their part, the organizers of the marches continue to spread the call on social networks, one of their main tools. “Our objective is to march against violence and the liberation of the prisoners. We do not want any more prisoners!” Declared Yunior García Aguilera, one of the main promoters of the marches for EFE.
In the same way, Saily González, another of the organizers, emphasizes the nonconformity of many of the protesters in the face of the “abuses” by the Government during the past protests. “We consider that his response was illegal, so we believe it is fair to insist on the march,” he told AFP.
The expectation of the new demonstrations is high for both parties. The opposition hopes that they will make it possible to reiterate the discomfort of a part of the population with the regime that was already expressed in July, in what many believe were the most massive demonstrations since the establishment of the communist government. Meanwhile, the Cuban authorities continue to emphasize that the protests are about an operation orchestrated from abroad to destabilize the country.
A second chapter of the July 11 marches?
“I think the question is whether you can put the July 11 genie back in the bottle or not,” University of Miami historian Michael Bustamante told Reuters. “November 15 will be a measure of that,” he added.
In addition, these have as an addition the complaint of the protesters about the prisoners of the past demonstrations. A claim that is supported by the United States, which has threatened to impose more sanctions on Cuba for the wave of arrests after the protests.
However, the Cuban authorities have stressed that the arrests were legitimate and that they were based on the crimes of “public disorder, resistance to arrest and vandalism.” The organizers have also denounced that they have been threatened by the Government for continuing with the calls.
At the same time, these citizen expressions have the particularity of coinciding with the reopening of tourism and primary schools on the island.
So Bustamante noted that “the stakes are high” in Cuba.
“This is the moment when the Cuban State seeks to turn around what has been a very bad year … and here you have this group saying ‘no, we are choosing this specific moment to press for political change'” , the historian concluded.
Social networks as allies: more “young” and “connected” protests
The Facebook group ‘Archipiélago’ has taken a key role in organizing and promoting the demonstrations. It is a community on the web that has about 31,501 members and according to one of its publications, most of the members are between 25 and 44 years old. Furthermore, about half of the group’s members reside outside of Cuba.
According to several analysts, the publications on the web have escaped the control of the communist authorities.
Despite this, reprisals continue. García Aguilar himself commented to EFE that Internet services have been cut off. According to the opponent, it is a retaliation to silence their “demands.”
Even so, the arrival of the Internet on the island, despite its intermittences, has changed the way in which it is developing and expressing discontent. As William Leogrande, professor at the American University in Washington and a specialist in relations between Cuba and the United States, comments to AFP, “the Cuban government feels very besieged by the poor state of the economy, by the reinforcement of the embargo and because the 11 July revealed the deep discontent of the people. “
The United States, another point of tension for the new protests in Cuba
The Cuban government has been insistent against the role of the United States in the new protests. This Wednesday, the authorities of the country affirmed that the United States has had attempts of “destabilization” with the support to the marches of the 15 of November.
Before, the Government had already denounced alleged links of the organizers with the institutions and the US congressmen and they have even pointed out that they are seeking a “military intervention”.
In addition, the Cuban president ruled that “US diplomats meet frequently with counterrevolutionary leaders. They provide them with guidance, encouragement, logistical support, and directly or indirectly finance their activities.”
For its part, the US government has not made a specific statement on the November 15 demonstrations. However, last month a State Department spokesperson said that they supported the right to protest by Cubans and that the demonstrations were about citizen discontent and were not a “demonstration … of the government’s wishes. from the United States “
Even so, the specialist in relations between Cuba and the United States, William Leogrande, said that the embassy “has always been a channel to provide material aid to Cuban dissidents.”
The Cuban government has also accused the organizers of the demonstrations through state media of receiving support from abroad.
A few days ago a news program showed a telephone call that García Aguilar had with an exile in Miami whom Cuba accused of “terrorist” attacks several decades ago. The opponent was accused of promoting “a soft coup.”
For his part, García Aguilar acknowledged having received a call from the head of the United States embassy in Havana, Timothy Zuñiga-Brown. However, he denied having received any help. In addition, he denounced that the calls were recorded without his consent.
The organizer also denounced that the Cuban authorities have used the strategy of blaming the United States for the demonstrations.
With a few days until November 15, few can be indifferent on the Caribbean island.
With EFE, Reuters and AFP