Cuban Protests Demand Freedom, Food, Covid-19 Vaccines - WSJ

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  vic-eldred  •  3 weeks ago  •  28 comments

By:   Jose de Cordoba (WSJ)

Cuban Protests Demand Freedom, Food, Covid-19 Vaccines - WSJ
“The streets have been taken over by the military and armed civilians,” independent journalist Abraham Jimenez wrote on his Twitter account. “I saw many people beaten and arrested.”

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Thousands of Cubans took to the streets in a wave of demonstrations in Havana and at least 14 other cities throughout the Communist island, demanding an end to the 62-year dictatorship and protesting the lack of food and Covid-19 vaccines.

"We are not afraid! We are not afraid!" people shouted as they marched through the streets on Sunday, videos posted on social media showed. "Freedom! Freedom!"

The protests are unprecedented in a country with tight police control and surveillance on dissidents, analysts say.

In a televised address on Sunday, President Miguel Diaz-Canel blamed the protests on the U.S., which he said seeks to economically strangle Cuba and bring about a social explosion.

"Revolutionaries to the street," he said, asking government supporters to rally support and take back control of the streets. "The order for combat has been given," he said.

The Biden administration said it was deeply concerned by the government’s response.

“We stand by the Cuban people’s right for peaceful assembly. We call for calm and condemn any violence,” said Julie Chung, the State Department’s senior official in charge of Latin America.

Mr. Díaz-Canel took office after Raúl Castro retired in 2018. Earlier this year, Mr. Díaz-Canel also  assumed the top job  in Cuba’s ruling Communist Party. Many Cubans say that Mr. Díaz-Canel, a longtime party apparatchik, lacks the mystique of the revolutionary generation of leaders who came to power with brothers Fidel and Raúl Castro.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said Mr. Díaz-Canel visited the city of San Antonio de los Baños, about 20 miles from Havana, to rally pro-government supporters. On his  Twitter  account, Mr. Rodríguez showed a video of pro-government demonstrators marching in Havana behind a Cuban flag shouting: “These streets belong to Fidel,” a reference to the late Cuban leader.

Demonstrators showed determination. Some gathered in front of Communist Party buildings, chanting “Cuba isn’t yours!”

At first, police didn’t disperse or arrest the peaceful protesters, but videos uploaded later on Sunday showed police wrestling down a demonstrator. Another video showed protesters throwing rocks at a police car as it sped off. A third showed two overturned police cars in a street in Havana.
“The streets have been taken over by the military and armed civilians,” independent journalist Abraham Jimenez wrote on his Twitter account. “I saw many people beaten and arrested.”

As demonstrators sought to broadcast the protest live with their cellphones through social media, Cuba’s authorities cut internet service on multiple occasions on Sunday.

Kentik, a U.S.-based network monitoring company, reported countrywide internet outages. Young Cuban civil-rights activists have used social media, which appeared on the island only recently, to organize protests and reach a far wider local audience than would have been the case a few years ago.

The protests come as Cuba’s economy contracted 11% last year. The island was slammed by the coronavirus pandemic and its vital tourism industry collapsed as a result. Remittances that many Cubans rely on also fell.

Amid a hard-currency shortage, Cubans must stand for hours in line to buy basic goods such as chicken or bread or even to take a bus. The island is also increasingly plagued by hourslong energy blackouts. In recent days, coronavirus infections have surged, according to Cuban authorities, throwing the island’s vaunted health system into crisis.

Covid-19 infections have skyrocketed over the past month. The stress on the health system, particularly in the Western province of Matanzas, led to an international internet campaign to channel medical aid to Cuba, using the hashtag #SOSCuba. But aid gathered for Cuba under the campaign was rejected by the Cuban government, angering many on the island.

“People are at the point when things explode, and when they explode it’s difficult to control,” said Alejandro de la Fuente, a Cuba expert at Harvard University.

The protests began in San Antonio de los Baños, according to local independent media, and appeared to spread to other cities as videos went viral on social media.

“This is the internet at work,” said Mr. de la Fuente. “People are communicating and going out to the street.”

In many of the places, the videos showed, people shouted “Patria y Vida,” or “Fatherland and Life,” the title of a hip-hop song created by dissident Cuban artists that has become the anthem of discontented people, especially the young. The name of the song is a blunt challenge to the Cuban revolution’s slogan of “Patria o Muerte,” or “Fatherland or Death.”






In Havana, Luis Manuel Otero, a performance artist who participated in the song’s video recording, called on Cubans to go to the city’s famous seaside promenade, the Malecón, to join him in the protest.

“I’m going to the street, I’m going to the Malecón, no matter what the cost,” Mr. Otero said on a video posted on Facebook. Other videos posted on social media showed hundreds of people marching in the Malecón and then to other streets in Havana.

The Cuban government is likely to increase its repressive tactics in the face of this unprecedented wave of protests, says Jorge Castañeda, Mexico’s former foreign minister.

“But if the army comes in and either fires on civilians or joins protests, then it’s game over for the regime,” says Mr. Castañeda. As a first line of defense, the regime is likely to use party militants in plainclothes, known as rapid reaction brigades, to repress demonstrators, he said.

A video posted on social media Sunday showed a group of men carrying hefty sticks getting ready to go out into the streets to contain protesters. Photographs later showed a similar group of men armed with sticks beating protesters.


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Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Vic Eldred    3 weeks ago

"The Biden administration said it was deeply concerned by the government’s response.

“We stand by the Cuban people’s right for peaceful assembly. We call for calm and condemn any violence,” said Julie Chung, the State Department’s senior official in charge of Latin America."

It's so nice to hear it. I really didn't know where Biden would stand.

Thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
2  Paula Bartholomew    3 weeks ago

I know that the US is donating vaccines to other countries.  I hope that Cuba is on the receiving end.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
2.1  Gordy327  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @2    3 weeks ago

At least Cubans are smart and actually want the vaccine, unlike some people here in the US. 

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
2.1.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Gordy327 @2.1    3 weeks ago

The CV is on the rise again.  Here in CA, 99% of the recent deaths were those who were unvaccinated.

 
 
 
pat wilson
Professor Guide
2.1.2  pat wilson  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @2.1.1    3 weeks ago

Vaccinated or unvaccinated ?

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
2.1.3  Gordy327  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @2.1.1    3 weeks ago

It doesn't help that variants of CV are appearing too.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
2.1.4  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  pat wilson @2.1.2    3 weeks ago

My bad.  I just caught my mistake.  Thank you.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
2.1.5  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @2.1.1    3 weeks ago

Make that unvaccinated, not vaccinated.

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
2.1.6  XXJefferson51  replied to  Gordy327 @2.1    3 weeks ago

At least the Cubans are intelligent enough to display the flag in their demonstrations that is the global symbol of freedom for people world wide excet [Deleted]

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
2.1.7  Gordy327  replied to  XXJefferson51 @2.1.6    3 weeks ago

That doesn't address what I said. Just another strawman on your part. No surprise either. 

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
2.2  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @2    3 weeks ago

How about support for freedom fighters? Are we offering any of that?

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
2.2.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Vic Eldred @2.2    3 weeks ago

If they are in any country we are donating to, then it will be available to them also.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
2.2.2  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @2.2.1    3 weeks ago

Paula, this is about a lot more than covid.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
Professor Guide
2.2.3  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Vic Eldred @2.2.2    3 weeks ago

It usually is.

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
2.2.4  XXJefferson51  replied to  Vic Eldred @2.2    3 weeks ago

Biden and the regime don’t even refer to the other regime in Cuba as communist or socialist.  Nor did they say anything positive about Cuban protesters  waving our flag just like protesters in Iran and Hong Kong do against those evil regimes.  

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
2.2.5  XXJefferson51  replied to  Vic Eldred @2.2.2    3 weeks ago

That’s the liberal spin, denial that the protest is against socialism and communism.  

 
 
 
Hallux
Freshman Principal
2.2.6  Hallux  replied to  XXJefferson51 @2.2.4    3 weeks ago

While I have seen a few American flags, and mostly Cuban flags held by Cubans protesting in Miami, I have not seen any in Cuba.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
2.2.7  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Hallux @2.2.6    2 weeks ago

 
 
 
Hallux
Freshman Principal
2.2.8  Hallux  replied to  Vic Eldred @2.2.7    2 weeks ago

One? Impressive. /s

 
 
 
SteevieGee
Junior Silent
3  SteevieGee    3 weeks ago

See what can happen when you have one leader who is above the law and cannot be removed by the voters?

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Masters Guide
4  Thrawn 31    3 weeks ago

I hope they are successful in achieving at least some of their goals.

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
4.1  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  Thrawn 31 @4    3 weeks ago

  Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who heads the Communist Party,   has already called on the country’s revolutionaries   to counter the demonstrators.

"We are prepared to do anything," he said during a national address. "We will be battling in the streets."

 
 
 
Thrawn 31
Masters Guide
4.1.1  Thrawn 31  replied to  Vic Eldred @4.1    3 weeks ago

We will have to see how everything plays out. If they are able to get organized enough I wouldn’t mind the US providing aid.

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
4.1.2  XXJefferson51  replied to  Vic Eldred @4.1    3 weeks ago

[deleted]

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
4.1.3  XXJefferson51  replied to  Vic Eldred @4.1    2 weeks ago

Biden threatened us with F-15’s and nukes if we dare challenge our government.   Not much difference…

 
 
 
Vic Eldred
Professor Principal
4.1.4  seeder  Vic Eldred  replied to  XXJefferson51 @4.1.3    2 weeks ago

Right now he's on TV pleading with the unvaccinated to get vaccinated so we can overcome this pandemic that put him in the White House.

 
 
 
XXJefferson51
Senior Guide
4.2  XXJefferson51  replied to  Thrawn 31 @4    3 weeks ago

Like free market capitalism…

 
 
 
Tacos!
Professor Guide
5  Tacos!    2 weeks ago

There should be a way we can help these people beyond mere good wishes.

 
 
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