Cuba, Protests Against Totalitarianism

Protesters in Santiago de Cuba, on July 11, 2021. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Corzo, Miami, 17 July 2022 — The protests of July 11, 2021 were a glorious feat for all of us who reject the Castro totalitarian regime.

That bravery, to a certain extent, neutralized the criticisms issued by some about what they describe as the extreme passivity of the Cuban people in the face of an iron dictatorship — an unpleasant saying, but one that reflects a real perception of what is happening on the island.

Without pretending to justify what must be criticized, the cowardice and apathy of many, we should brandish the epic courage of men and women who have never stopped confronting Castro totalitarianism.

Many have been martyrs in this bloody process and even more so the political prisoners who have served years behind bars in these more than six decades, including the large number of young people trained under the Castro regime who populate prisons for refusing to submit to tyranny.

It’s true that for so many years there have been few protests, but it’s an irrefutable truth that the more closed the regimes of force are, the more difficult it is to oppose them, and a totalitarian regime like the Cuban one, which has been able to establish strict social and police control, doesn’t cede space but must be taken away, which has a high human cost as history has shown.

The average Cuban, apparently, has concluded that it’s better to conspire to overthrow the regime than to participate in a media demonstration, because it’s as criminal to the Castro authorities to take to the streets demanding freedom as it is to participate in a plot to overthrow the tyranny. Other dictatorships brutally beat protesters and imprison them for hours; on the island of the Castros, the beating is joined by long years of sentences to be served under subhuman conditions.

Young people in prison for participating in barely-known protests or in other high-profile protests are in the same condition as artists who, through their creations, manifest dissent and freedom of opinion.

The first anniversary of the protests of July 11, 2021, lead us to remember some of the popular demonstrations against Castroism, many of them forgotten by the long years that have passed and whose protagonists have mostly left for eternity.

Lost in the mists of time is the protest organized by mothers, wives and daughters, in January or February 1959, to demand an end to the shootings.

In February 1960, discontent with communist penetration into universities materialized with a protest organized by students in the Central Park of Havana, on the occasion of the visit to Cuba by the Soviet Deputy Prime Minister, Anastás Mikoyan. In October, the students demonstrated again in Santa Clara, against the execution of five captured guerrillas, including the president of the FEU of Las Villas, Porfirio Ramírez Ruiz. That same year, the electricity sector carried out a massive march in the capital rejecting the regime’s measures against workers.

In 1961, the provinces of Oriente and Camagüey were the scene of student protests against communism and, in September of that same year, parishioners and Catholic organizations organized a procession in the church of La Caridad, in Havana, which had been banned by the authorities. However, the religious walk occurred with exclamations of “Long live Christ the King,” “Cuba Yes, Russia No.” The authorities reacted violently and shot dead the young Arnaldo Socorro.

In June and July 1962, the cities of Cárdenas and Perico, in Matanzas, were shaken by large protests, and in Cárdenas the regime took out tanks to repress it, a legacy that had its climax in the great protests of July 11 of last year, with its sad aftermath of numerous wounded and hundreds of prisoners, many minors.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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