14ymedio, Havana, 22 January 2020 — As it usually happens in these cases, Cuba’s State television monopoly presented a report on Tuesday that provides supposed evidence of the participation of “the anti-Cuban mafia based in Florida” in the desecration of José Martí’s busts by a group called Clandestinos.
The report, more than 11 minutes long, presents images of surveillance cameras in which two men are seen moving at night near the Plaza of the Revolution, one of the most controlled areas of the country. In its vicinity is the bust of Martí made by José Delarra and allegedly vandalized, according to a complaint from the workers of the neighboring Bohemia magazine. The bust had to be restored after the action, although photos of the damaged sculpture were never shown.
These men, whose arrest was announced on January 8, appear on the screen to relate the actions they took against the monuments dedicated to the national hero. According to the official press, Panter Rodríguez Baró, 44, and Yoel Prieto Tamayo, 29, “denigrated 11 Martí busts and three billboards with political content” in the early days of this year.
The strange thing is the casual and even mocking tone of the man who is presented as Panter when he talks about his use of marijuana and cocaine. The same sense of manipulation is suggested by his statements about the role of activist Ana Olema Hernández, who is pointed out as the head of the entire operation and who sent about $600 to Panter through Western Union, a not very discreet way of financing a clandestine operation.
To confirm their accusations, the report shows proof of bank transfer receipts, allegedly made by Hernández and her husband. Both allegedly sent more than $1,000 to Cuba to finance “enemy activities,” $600 of it for graffiti.
As an opponent, Cuban television labels Hernández a person who is “at the service of the United States Government and the anti-Cuban mafia based in Florida,” and accusers her of having links with “counterrevolutionary and terrorist” organizations and therefore being a “puppet of subversion” involved in causing “disorders.”
Ana Olema Hernández denied the accusations, which she described as false, through her social networks. “It is impossible to give credit to a report made by a press in the service of a dictatorship, with some interviewees, who are not being interviewed, but after days and days under interrogation, in the dungeons of State Security, are forced, God knows under what threat, to say anything.”
The opponent added that she would be proud “to support any civil and civic resistance movement in Cuba” but that, in her opinion, “that movement was born within Cuba spontaneously.”
Guillermo Mendoza, arrested for owning the phone with which Rodriguez and Prieto’s actions were filmed, and Jorge Ernesto Pérez, Panter’s cousin, also appear in the video. The latter is accused of maintaining communication with Hernández. In addition, both painted posters with the slogan “I vote no” against the constitutional reform last year; all this according to the official version.
“There were containers with pig blood in them. In the case of citizen Panter, a search was made in the garage where objects containing substances that were established to be drugs, specifically cocaine, were found,” said an officer interviewed for the report.
Cuban Television has not specified details about the judicial situation of the accused, but refers to the most serious penalties applied in the past to proclaim the virtues of the regime. “It would be possible to reflect that if in a past time eight medical students were unjustly murdered by an alleged outrage to the grave of a Spanish hero, what do these servants deserve? Luckily for them, the Cuban Revolution is fair,” they say.
The video also spares no effort in showing an alleged link between the actions of Clandestinos and the independent media that have reported their activities. El Nuevo Herald, ADN Cuba, Diario de Cuba, Cubita Now and 14ymedio are some of those that appear for having disseminated facts of “such magnitude.” That list coincides with the one of the designated pages that an official blogger recently published and was reproduced by other national information spaces.
The same diagram shows the faces of people, such as Alex Otaola, Aldo Roberto Rodríguez Baquero and actor Roberto San Martín, who had shown support for the actions of Clandestinos.
The group takes its name from a film by Fernando Pérez that addresses the clandestine struggle against Fulgencio Batista’s regime and, since the beginning of its activities, it has been cautious not to give details that allow identifying any of its components.
In the street and on the networks, meanwhile, the debate continues on whether the collctive is a group that genuinely struggles to make visible its protest against the Cuban government or a creation of State Security to link it to the opposition.
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