Cuba protest call goes unheeded as organizers strand
A call to protest went unheeded on Monday as some of the organizers complained that government supporters surrounded their homes so they could not get out, while others said they had been warned by Cuban police that ‘they would be arrested if they took to the streets.
Critics of the government had hoped to repeat a demonstration equal to that of four months ago when the island witnessed the biggest protests against the Communist administration in recent history.
Organizers have sought to stage protests on the same day Cuba reopens to international visitors after 20 months of coronavirus restrictions, but some pandemic restrictions remain on outdoor activities
At the point set for the rally in Havana, no one showed up and the streets of the city appeared quiet. Meanwhile, Cuban Americans in Miami have staged their own rallies to support the hoped-for protests in Cuba.
The Cuban government had refused permission for parades in Havana and other cities.
âDemonstrating is a civic right. Under the circumstances in which we are and with the tools at our disposal, everyone has this right, âan organizer, filmmaker Raul Prado, told The Associated Press by telephone.
Prado said many people “suffered the consequences” for publicly expressing their willingness to protest. He said authorities had cut their internet service, uniformed or plainclothes police were stationed in homes, and some government supporters chanted revolutionary slogans at them.
The protest was called by playwright Yunior GarcÃa and his group Archipelago, which is an online discussion forum with 35,000 members.
GarcÃa had attempted a solo protest march on Sunday, but was prevented from leaving his building by government supporters. They also hung Cuban flags on the roof of the building to block the windows of his apartment to prevent him from communicating with anyone outside. The flags were still there on Monday and a guard stood at the door.
The phones of GarcÃa and other coordinators of the Archipelago group remained interrupted.
The march was called to demand the release of prisoners, especially those arrested during the July protests, an expansion of human rights and a national dialogue.
Although the streets are quiet, many young people have taken to social media to post pictures of themselves dressed in white – organizers had called for dressing in that color.
Entrepreneur Saily GonzÃ¡lez, who is moderator of the Archipelago forum, uploaded a live broadcast showing her in white clothes as government supporters dressed in red chanted revolutionary slogans and cursed her.
Havana’s squares and parks were taken over by government supporters on Monday to organize cultural activities accompanying Cuba’s reopening to international visitors and to commemorate the 502nd anniversary of the city’s founding.
During an internet broadcast, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez mocked protesters and opposition supporters in Washington, saying they were in disguise but had nowhere to go.
âThere were those who artificially created other expectations outside of Cuba that didn’t happen. They got dressed for this holiday. Our party, the party of Cuba, is wonderful and will continue to be so in the coming days until the end of the year and next year. Well, some of my colleagues in Washington seem to have stayed dressed for a party of theirs that didn’t happen, âhe said.