Control of the Internet and the Rounding Up of Indigents Mark Cuban President Diaz-Canel’s Visit to Sancti Spiritus

A police operation in Sancti Spíritus. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mercedes García, Sancti Spíritus, 20 January 2022 — The city of Sancti Spíritus woke up under a disproportionate police operation this Thursday due to Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel’s visit to the province.

According to several locals, the 3G internet service began to fail the day before and hardly anyone could communicate that night. In addition, some residents confirmed to 14ymedio that on Wednesday morning they picked up the mentally ill and homeless from the El Hueco neighborhood in the Kilo 12 neighborhood in a bus and took them to an unknown destination.

Since the early hours of this Thursday, there was police surveillance every 50 meters on the Central Highway. The presidential entourage later passed by. As he passed, small scattered groups shouted revolutionary slogans and applauded. “Who are those who applaud?” asked a neighbor and another replied: “I don’t know who they are, I’ve never seen them in my life. They’re not from around here.”

Telephone exchanges in the city were also under guard. As one of the workers for the State telecommunications company Etecsa explained to a resident: “In the event of any incident occurring due to the president’s visit, the uniformed officers should proceed to immediately disconnect communications.”

Agents from the police and State Security also arrived at the Cupet in the Chambelón neighborhood very early this Thursday morning. In this area there are always many black market street vendors, including those who sell cigarettes, but the officers stopped the sales and quickly emptied the place, including of passers-by.

“You have to clear the area, withdraw from the place,” the police said. The people had to walk about two kilometers from the Cupet and they were not allowed to use the Central Highway to get away, they had to walk through neighboring streets. In addition, they were not allowed to make calls and ordered to keep their phones down under the threat of being confiscated. According to several neighbors, Díaz-Canel was at that time in a visiting house a kilometer from the place.

At another time, at the Rancho Hatuey hotel, to the north of the city, local residents could see from the street many official vehicles and part of the entourage eating food. “For them there is food and drink,” said a man from Sancti Spiritus who was passing by ironically. “That table must be about 20 meters long,” he detailed.

The Twitter account of the Cuban Presidency announced that the president’s stay was part of a comprehensive visit by the Secretariat of the Central Committee to the province “to review how much has been done” since the eighth congress of the Communist Party.  Meanwhile, the official press reported the tour between fanfares and poetic phrases such as: “To know first-hand the heartbeat of a community,” the president arrived in Sancti Spíritus, according to  the local newspaper Escambray.


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