14ymedio, Natalia Lopez Moya, Havana, October 17, 2021 — On Saturday Havana residents were astonished to see a group of tourists posing for photos in front of the Capitolio, the Cuban capitol building.
“Because they’re foreigners, they have the right to walk along the sidewalk in front of the capitol and take photos while they intimidate me and make sure I’m only carrying a cell phone in my hand,” says one young man walking in front of the building which houses the National Assembly.
On July 11 a large crowd of demonstrators crying “freedom” almost reached the steps of the iconic building, where they were reprimanded and arrested by police. Since then, the streets surrounding the building have been heavily guarded. For more than three months no Cuban citizen has been allowed to even walk on any of the sidewalks encircling it.
With less than a month to go before a November 15 march organized by a group called Archipelago, officials have stepped up security in this area of Havana, where a 14ymedio reporter counted twenty police and soldiers blocking access to anyone who might try to approach the imposing building, especially if they are young.
“It’s obvious they’re afraid of us. If that weren’t the case, they wouldn’t let tourists go near it either. They won’t even let us to rollerblade on the Paseo del Prado like we’ve done for years,” observes one boy. “The police treat us like we’re criminals.”
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