14ymedio, Havana, 3 October 2022 — Governance on the Island continues to deteriorate. In September, the more than 4 million Cubans who abstained and those who voted “No” despite pressure was a clear rejection during the referendum on the new Family Code, which was finally approved. This setback coincided with the most widespread popular protests since July 11, 2021, according to the Cuban Observatory of Conflicts (OCC).
The organization, which prepares monthly reports on conflicts on the island, refuted with data the statement proclaimed by President Miguel Díaz-Canel that the affirmative vote on the Family Code favored “Unity, the Revolution and Socialism.”
The 3,936,790 votes obtained under pressure were less than the 4,145,771 combined total of voters who refused to vote — despite reprisals for those who refused — (2,195,771) and those who voted no (1,959,097). In addition, this “sum does not include those 360,042 whose ballots were annulled.
The month coincided with the total collapse of the National Electric System, a worsening of the dengue epidemic, and the passage of Hurricane Ian, which left five dead and 30,000 homes damaged, some completely destroyed. “These are just catalysts for the protests, since the main conflict is between the current dictatorial regime and the aspirations and basic needs of the population,” says the US-based OCC.
The protests escalated in tone and “not only included cacerolazos [banging on pots and pans] and marches, but also barricades in the streets.” The social demands ranged from the restoration of the electrical service to cries of “freedom” and “expressions of rejection of the repressive forces and the rulers.”
This was evident during a tour of areas affected by Hurricane Ian, when Díaz-Canel visited Batabanó, in Mayabeque. “He is surrounded,” a woman shouted from the crowd that surrounded the vehicles in which the ruler and his entourage were traveling. “They don’t let the people talk” and “walk so you can see”, claimed the neighbors, who also called the security agents “brazen” and “snitches”.
Of the 364 protests mentioned above, 43 were massive street demonstrations, especially on September 29 and 30, which “included cacerolazos, roadblocks and marches.” In Havana, 33 were documented, Artemisa, the province which was second in terms of the number of protests, Las Tunas (3), Villa Clara (3), Holguín (1), Santiago de Cuba (1), Mayabeque (1) and Matanzas (1). The document reiterates that the reports of “repressions” and “new protests” were ongoing at the time the report was completed.
Another 227 demonstrations were for political and civil rights (62%) and 137 for economic and social claims (38%), which followed the same trend as the previous month, indicative that more than half of the demonstrations were for political and social issues.
These protests, the OCC points out, respond to the “deliberate neglect for years of the needs of the population: food, energy, housing, health, sanitation, education and transportation,” which aggravated the crisis.
The OCC warned the United States that in unilateral concessions are made to the Government of Cuba, these would “strengthen its capacity to use them in a strategy of social appeasement and an increase in repressive brutality in the short term.”
The organization specified that the core of this conflict is not between Havana and Washington, but between the failed system that governs Cuba and the needs and aspirations of the population.
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