Cuba: Lots of Police, but Few Ordinary People, in the Official Caravan on the Day of the ‘Maleconazo’

The official calls for gathering on this Thursday, August 5, have been met with much criticism. (Twitter)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 5 August 2021 — On the avenue of the Malecón heavily guarded by the police and under the intense summer sun, the second official call to support the Government was held this Thursday in Havana since the protests against the Cuban regime broke out on July 11. Low attendance and health questions marked the event, organized to coincide with the 27th anniversary of Fidel Castro’s intervention to quell the short popular revolt in 1994 known as the Maleconazo.

State television, with extensive coverage of the events, constantly alluded to the date, referring to that day as “a day of victory for the people, since the violent actions that a group of people tried to carry out along the Malecon were condemned.”

The cameras, which sought to amplify the event, could not hide a meager caravan of bikes, scooters, mopeds and cars.

The call was accompanied by criticism from the moment that Aylín Álvarez, the new first secretary of the Union of Young Communists of Cuba, launched it on social networks.

Álvarez called on “the young people” to join a caravan “for peace, love and solidarity” and asked them not to forget their facemask “and to keep their distance.”

The caravan was attacked by Amílcar Pérez-Riverol, a Cuban virologist based in Brazil, who called it shameful and irresponsible. “This is a mockery of the suffering of an entire country that is going through one of the worst outbreaks that have occurred in the world. This is a complete lack of respect for life,” he said.

Tweet text: In the worst moment of the Covid-19 pandemic in Cuba, while we are second in the entire world with the most DEATHS per person, the @UJCdeCuba [Young Communists Union] does this.

“Who has the morals to demand discipline and perception of risk after promoting this right now?” Pérez-Riverol wondered, after mentioning that Cuba is the second country in the world with the most daily confirmed cases per one million inhabitants and that the positivity rates in tests in the last two days are four times higher than the limit indicated by the WHO as an alarm index for high viral circulation.

The Ministry of Public Health reported this Thursday that Cuba woke up with 8,399 new cases of Covid-19 and 93 deaths. Among provinces, it is Havana in particular, with 1,461 infections, that continues to be the one that most reports, followed by Ciego de Ávila (1,028) and Matanzas (728). Between serious and critical, there are 497 patients and the country counts a total of 431,013 confirmed cases and 3,184 deaths from the disease.

Given the flood of criticism of the call for gatherings, because of the resurgence in positive cases to Covid-19 in the capital and throughout the country, on Wednesday night  Álvarez published a message to further justify the official concentration.

“It is true that it is convened in the midst of a moment when the pandemic is peaking, but it is also a time of maximum aggressiveness and attempts at internal destabilization and foreign invasion,” Álvarez wrote. “It is a hard and difficult moment that we face as a Nation, it is true. In it, we can die from Covid, but also from a bomb or a stone to the head. No one doubts it. We must take care of all this and defend ourselves,” he wrote.

For its part, the University Student Federation held some fairs in the Cuban capital this Thursday under the slogan “an option that you should not miss.” Three places were chosen: the parks at G and Trillo and the Plaza 13 de Marzo. Of course, they warned those who attended not to forget to bring their “facemask and disinfectant.”

“I went through Trillo Park, there are a lot of people there in an event that they are holding with a singer,” a neighbor of the Centro Habana municipality where the square is located told 14ymedio. “There are one or two or three stands where they are selling lasagna, bread with mincemeat and of course, there is a line to buy those things; most of the people who are here only went to buy these things,” she said.

The woman, in the midst of her usual adventures to find something to put on the table, insisted that the event crowd is insignificant. “In the line around the corner, which is to buy potatoes, there are more people than in Trillo Park,” she says bluntly and adds: “There are more people from State Security and police officers than there are ordinary people.”

Trillo Park has been the staging area for the ruling party on several occasions. A not so “spontaneous” gathering at the end of last November is still fresh in the memory; an event where Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel affirmed that in Cuba “there is space for dialogue for everything that is Revolution.” The meeting was the regime’s response to the peaceful demonstration of hundreds of artists in front of the Ministry of Culture on November 27, where they demanded to meet with the head of the ministry and were finally received by his deputy.


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