August Sees the Highest Number of Protests in Cuba since 11 July 2021

Demonstration in Nuevitas, a town in Camaguey province, on August 18. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 2 September 2022 — There were a total of 361 demonstrations in the country, according to the latest report by the Cuban Conflict Observatory (OCC), which was released on Thursday. This is the second highest number of protests recorded by the US-based organization, which began tracking them in September 2020.

The main reason Cubans took to the streets in August was to protest blackouts. The report notes that were as many as 79 protests of different kinds, 41 of which were cacerolazos.*

According to the OCC most protests fell into one of two categories: those for political and civil rights, and those for economic and social rights. It explains that it had to apply “selective criteria” when classifying cacerolazos, which began over a social grievance — a shutdown of the electrical power supply —  but broadened over the course of the month to include political demands.

There were 219 protests over political rights and 142 over economic rights.

The report states, “The number of cacerolazos increased 145%, from 20 in June to 49 this month.” Artemesia province saw the greatest number, with eight such protests, followed by Cienfuegos with seven, then Holguin and Camaguey with six each.

The most notable of these occurred in Nuevitas on August 18 and 19, when hundreds of people took to the streets to demand not only that electrical power be restored but also to call for freedom.

The report states that protests directly criticizing the government for mismanagement grew from 85 in July to 172 in August. Although it states that many of the protests demanded the Diaz-Canel government be replaced, they also demanded the socialist system be replaced.

It mentions an increase in violent actions by unknown perpetrators as described by anonymous reports on social media. These include arson attacks at state recreation centers and stones thrown at display window of state-owned hard-currency stores.

To deal with this, the organization claims the government “apparently wanted to try an active measure by claiming there had been a firebomb attack on a state building. The fabrication of disinformation on the alleged operation was extremely crude and national public opinion immediately dismissed the news as a police stunt.”

The OCC says the number of demonstrations having to do with economic rights may also have been growing. These involve not only those related to power blackouts but also to “the collapse of the healthcare system in response to the growing dengue epidemic, shortages of food and medicine, inflation and garbage collection.”

In this monthly report, the OCC states, “Cuban protests now take a wide variety of forms: collective prayers in public places, graffiti, civic campaigns with flyers and posters, provocative religious services, and hackings of official websites and the computers of hotels associated with the military-business group GAESA

The OCC report also highlights the Matanzas Supertanker Base. Referring to it as a “disaster,” it decries “the lack of foresight on the part of the leadership and the inefficiency of the system of governance to provide internal stability, which exacerbates the crisis of legitimacy and the credibility of the government.”

The OCC argues, “Though expressions of discontent or dissent with respect to current policies are widespread, what is undeniable is that never since 1959 have they been of such size, permeating the most diverse layers of society with the exception of a tiny oligarchy, which benefits from them.” It concludes, “If the intransigence of the powerful elites persists,” this trend will be unsustainable “in the short or medium term.”

*Translator’s note: A form of popular protest which consists of a people making noise by banging pots, pans, and other cooking utensils to call attention to their grievance.


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