HAVANA, Cuba. – July 11th is already inscribed in Cuba’s history as the true day of national rebellion. Thousands of Cubans who took to the streets in almost every province, besieged by hunger, shortage of medicines, lack of individual freedoms and an increase in the number of people taken ill or deceased from COVID-19, dismantled in a few hours the grotesque farce of the last 62 years, as well as the official discourse about CIA-financed counterrevolution that the Castro regime has repeated persistently since the events of November 27, 2020.
Amidst shouts of “Freedom”, “Fatherland and Life” and “We Are Not Afraid”, the spark of rebellion started in the town of San Antonio de los Baños, and spread throughout the island, triggering strong police repression. Cubans who experienced the Maleconazo protests (Havana, 1994) admit that nothing like this had ever been witnessed, for its massive and simultaneous characteristics. The dictatorship, as would be expected, chose to respond aggressively and to bully the demonstrators. During a rough television appearance, a visibly-shaken president Miguel Díaz-Canel responded with the same old rhetoric, blaming the US. embargo and the U.S. administration. In his diatribe, as weak and erratic as it was at certain moments, he ended by calling for civil war when he stressed that “the streets belong to the revolutionaries’ and summoned the regime’s supporters to confront legitimate civilian protests, which he described as “provocations orchestrated from abroad”, a completely false statement.
If such was the exile community’s agenda, then the regime should admit that it would be in perfect consonance with the Cuban people’s wishes. The people were never consulted by the Díaz-Canel government as to the dollarization of the economy; the arrival of Russian tourists amid new outbreaks of the pandemic; the export of twelve million vaccines to Venezuela when only a little more than one million Cubans have been vaccinated; the remittance of medicines to Nicaragua while Cuban hospitals are lacking even in basic analgesics, and so many other important decisions that have been made unilaterally, demonstrating that the government’s agenda has nothing to do with the needs of the people.
If the protests were organized by Cuban exiles, then Díaz-Canel should recognize that the Cuban exile community’s convening power is greater than that of his government, and that the internal opposition is very well organized from one end to the other of the Cuban archipelago, something which the regime has always denied.
Díaz-Canel lied without gagging, protected by the media apparatus that operates at the service of the Communist Party of Cuba, and by the interruption of internet services nation-wide, thus preventing access to first-hand information about what really happened in San Antonio de los Baños, where truckloads of “Red Berets” forces attacked protesters, beating-up and arresting dozens of people before his arrival and subsequent stroll down the now-empty streets, surrounded by State Security agents. In other provinces, the National Revolutionary Police, the Special Forces, and thugs from the secret police brutally charged against the protesters, most of whom were women. The image of a photographer from Associated Press has gone viral, his broken nose bleeding after being attacked by the police while covering the protest in from of the Radio and Television Institute (ICRT, by its Spanish acronym) where several young artists were violently arrested.
Díaz-Canel’s call to hatred has unleashed tragic events in a matter of days. The country has been left incommunicado to prevent the world from witnessing in real time the brutality and vicious harassment of the regime’s Special Forces against civilians. In a few more days, we will know exactly the number of people killed, gravely wounded and arrested, but already the Díaz-Canel government, steered from the shadows by the Castro family, is being called by the name it deserves in the entire world.
Díaz-Canel has stated that Cuba does not need humanitarian assistance, and Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla has denied that a social outbreak has occurred, calling the events of July 11th “disturbances, vandalism and undisciplined behavior by counterrevolutionary elements.” However, the regime, and all of Cuba, knows that it was not a mere handful of civilians here and there, but thousands of people throughout the country, citizens that have had enough with the terrible situation that the island is facing. Díaz-Canel insists on calling the protesters “mercenaries and confused revolutionaries”, stressing once again how much he and his government despise the right of Cubans to step out of the rigid ideological box imposed on them six decades ago.
The events of July 11th showed that the change that Cuba demands is not a matter of “mercenaries on the CIA payroll”. The genuine will of the people rejects the Díaz-Canel government and the continuation of a political system that has left the country extremely vulnerable and subject to unsurmountable political corruption at every level.
In this crucial context for the future of the island, some “analysts” have hinted at the possibility that president Joe Biden might agree to lift restrictions on remittances, a concession that would be contrary to the full freedoms that Cubans desire. Cuba’s problem will not be solved by placing more money in the hands of a dictatorship whose main premise is unproductiveness and whose control over the population is based on unstable, almost feudal, economic policies. To free-up remittances would be equivalent to accommodating the regime’s habit of importing to then re-sell to the people in hard currency and at inflated prices, the junk that China and the European Union makes available at bargain prices. Beyond a good-will gesture, it would be counterproductive. As long as the State capitalizes all resources and investments, there will be no opportunity for private-sector growth, nor for the individual citizen.
Cuba has chosen the road to freedom, and judging from Díaz-Canel’s message, it will be attained only through new traumas and deaths. If the community of democratic nations really holds us in high regard, it should be watchful: the Castro regime will not hesitate for a minute to unleash the army against defenseless civilians. It is then that we shall know just how true the expressions of affection and solidarity from free nations toward “the Cuban people”, really are.
Today, July 14th, Cuba remains disconnected from the world by a decision from the Communist Party. This imposed silence is a lethal threat, and Cubans around the world must pay close attention. Díaz-Canel assured his audience that change would only be possible “over the dead bodies of revolutionaries”, in spite of the fact that the Cuban opposition is a peaceful opposition, as has been amply demonstrated.
Those who dream of a free Cuba do not want any deaths, but if there are any, on either side, the responsibility will fall on the Castro family, on Miguel Díaz-Canel, on the Ministiry of the Interior, on the Armed Forces, and on the official press, which continues to deny what is blatantly evident and thus would contribute, through its unethical conduct, to the killers’ impunity.
Inside the island, the people will continue to take to the streets, with a Nation’s pain, and a Nation’s pride. It is vital and urgent that they not be left alone.
Read in spanish here.
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