Cuba: Protests and the Declaration of the Civil Society

Last Thursday night, the population of Nuevitas took to the streets in protest against the blackouts lasting more than 10 hours. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ariel Hidalgo, Miami, August 24, 2022 — To those who asked when the Cuban population would return to take to the streets, when another July 11 would be repeated, it must be said: the people have already taken to the streets in many cities every day. Every day is July 11. And this is just the beginning, because, curiously, it’s the authorities themselves who give the signal for the protests to begin.

That “signal” is called a blackout. And apparently they are going to happen more and more frequently. They thought they had found the formula to prevent any mass protest in a city from spreading throughout the country: cutting off the internet, but they themselves are inadvertently putting into practice another formula to summon them: cutting off the electricity.

The difference with July 11, 2021  is that it was then face-to-face and held at the same time in many places at once, like a disadvantageous frontal war against a powerful enemy. Now, it is more like a guerrilla war, where even darkness is the best ally.

However, last week, the people of Nuevitas not only protested in the streets, but also faced the dictatorship’s attack, and there were injuries on both sides. All the demonstrations have been peaceful, but the population cannot be asked to turn the other cheek in the face of a brutal repression that makes no distinction for age or gender.

So where is all this going to go? Because cutting off the Internet no longer works for the regime, when today no city or town waits for a San Antonio de los Baños to initiate a protest. There will come a time when every town and city is protesting in the streets, and the whole country will shudder with another social explosion, this time more forceful, and then no one will be able to stop it.

The only thing that would be missing today is the common position of that civil society in rebellion, something to which Manuel Cuesta Morúa, vice president of the Committee for the Democratic Transition, was referring when he made a proposal a month after those glorious protests last year: “I think that what should happen now is to translate the social explosion into a political proposal.” And he added: “This has to be led, coordinated and activated by civil society.”

Prominent philosophers such as Spinoza and Kant agreed to define civil society as “a collective body constituted by the individuals of a society, which is positioned outside the limits of the State.” Civil society, being composed of all those who participate in that community, has a moral force superior to the State, so the State must submit to it, and not civil society to the State, especially when the party leadership that controls it was not elected by the citizens. Jean Jacques Rousseau went much further when he said: “The voice of the people is the voice of God.”

When it comes to civil society, a declaration that reflects its common position cannot be ideologized, because it would contain all the diversity of a political tuning fork, but it must address the concrete problems that are affecting us all. And this is precisely what was reflected, in just two pages, by a group of Cubans in their Manifesto of Cuban Civil Society. In a few days they collected more than 80 signatures from inside and also outside Cuba, “since the Cuban nation extends beyond the Cuban archipelago to any part of the world where there is a Cuban identified with the collective aspirations of his compatriots.”

The manifesto, which aims to collect thousands of signatures, doesn’t ask anyone for anything, but demands respect for all our legitimate rights and the release of all those imprisoned for practicing or defending them. Each signatory must give the details of his name, profession or activity he carries out, the organization to which he belongs if any, city and country where he resides, and send them to, to proclaim to the world and to the oppressors, that the Cuban people are already on the move and that nothing and no one will be able to stop them from reaching their destination: a homeland of freedom and life.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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