Tag Archive for: Public Protests

New Protests in Cuba Against an Old and Destructive Socialist Tyranny

In October 1868 in the Cuban city of Bayamo, the notes of the National Anthem were heard for the first time — a call for the independence war against the Spanish empire. On March 17, 2023 — 155 years later — hundreds of Cubans walked the streets of Bayamo singing against socialist totalitarianism.

If the former did it with lit torches, the latter carried fire in their voices. They walked through a city in darkness, overwhelmed by blackouts of up to 20 hours a day, without food or medicine, and with the liberticidal boot of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) on their necks.

That day, coded in the media and popularly known as 17M, peaceful protests were replicated in other cities and towns on the island. El Cobre, in the Santiago de Cuba province, Sancti Spíritus in the center of the country, and Santa Marta, Matanzas, were some of those that remained in the national memory thanks to live broadcasts and images that Cubans took with their cell phones.

“Freedom,” “No to violence,” “We are hungry,” “Down with Díaz-Canel,” and “Homeland and Life” were some of the cries that were heard in the videos. The regime shut down the flow of information almost immediately with local blackouts of the internet, a service it dominates through the state telecommunications monopoly ETECSA. The protests lasted for two days.

In Bayamo, a city where there are reports and graphic testimony of violence by the National Revolutionary Police (PNR), there is still enthusiastic talk about the demonstrations today. The popular adrenaline shot of doing what is prohibited, demonstrating against the State, will remain in the memory of the people of Bayamo.

A pastor from a local church, who has requested anonymity, shared the images that lead this article. People crowded in the area known as the Figueredo Cruise, and a police unit attempted to contain their advance. Someone from his church, who participated in the protests, sent him the photos. Videos and graphic content were shared in WhatsApp and Telegram groups with equal doses of pride and fear.

In Cuba there is a tyranny, but not just any tyranny. Socialist tyrannies are the worst thing that can happen to a country.

Popular exhibitions against Castroism are not new. Two days before the 17M protests, in a peripheral neighborhood of Santiago de Cuba, after a whole day without electricity, several Cubans went out to the balconies of their apartments to shout “Freedom!” Pastor Alain Toledano mentioned the event as “a cry for hope and reform.”

Among those who screamed was a member of his congregation and his young mother, Ruth. On March 16, the political police arrested her and transferred her to the Versailles Operations Unit, a known torture center in the eastern city.

Although at first the military planned to arrest Ruth’s father as well, they opened the handcuffs that they had already put on him so that he could carry his grandson, a baby who looked bewildered at that group of uniformed men in his house who took his mother away as if she were a criminal. The young Christian was interrogated, threatened, and then held incommunicado in a cell.

On March 17, her father and her husband, with the baby in their arms, stood at the station asking for her release.

Hours later, in the nearby town of El Cobre, a concentration of residents broke out in the streets due to the lack of food and electricity, which soon escalated to shouts against the Marxist system and the ruling leadership. PNR officials climbed on a roof and tried to appease the protesters, who expressed their disapproval and even questioned the legitimacy of their positions, including to the highest representative of totalitarianism in the province, Beatriz Jhonson, Secretary of the PCC.

The spark, thanks to the interconnection fostered by the internet, was spread in Guantánamo city, where a group of people chanted phrases against the municipal government. Another protest reached the town of Los Mangos, in the province of Matanzas.

The regime’s anger was unleashed with the arrests of several participants. On March 18, there was a considerable concentration outside the PNR Station in El Cobre. In front of a line of police officers who looked on in bewilderment, the jilted people questioned why their neighbors, friends, and family had been locked up the night before for “public disorder.”

“People get tired,” the grandparents said in my house when the situation was at its limit. The promise that unbearable fatigue would come in the form of massive public protests was passed from generation to generation without being fulfilled, thanks to the refined national panopticon — the relentless repressive system of indoctrination that increases the feeling of being imprisoned in Cuba.

Since 2021, with the demonstrations of July 11 and 12, it seems that the old saying is beginning to come true. It can be catalyzed by, among others, a mother separated from her baby, punishments for those who ask for the freedom of the island, prolonged blackouts that return the country to pre-Columbian times, and zero milk for children. That is to say: Socialism’s own inhumanity and ineptitude is its own enemy.


Yoe Suarez

RELATED ARTICLE: My Visit to Cuba — An American in Havana


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