14ymedio, Madrid, 2 October 2021 — “The repression and terror” instituted by the Cuban government “fail to neutralize this new generation of dissident citizens.” The Cuban Conflict Observatory (OCC) reaches this conclusion in its latest report, made public this Friday, which includes 312 protests in September.
Since September 2020, when 42 demonstrations took place, until the same month this year, the Miami-based organization observes that “the increase in protests, month by month, has remained constant.”
“Even those who insist on considering the national social outbreak of July 11 exceptional (it included 584 protests with the participation of some 187,000 Cubans) have to take into account that a total of 2,718 protests have already accumulated in the course of a year. And they continue to grow,” emphasizes the NGO, which also reports: “It has been proven that trying to quell protests by resorting to violence multiplies them and could open the door to others who demonstrate in a less constructive way.”
Thus, last month there were five violent actions against the so-called ’dollar stores’ — which accept payment only in foreign currency — and police patrols, as well as the burning of a house during the blackouts that affected Matanzas, Cienfuegos and Ciego de Ávila. “We do not know if they are state self-provocations,” the document says. “Nobody has attributed them.”
What the Observatory confirms, in any case, is that since 11J (July 11th) “the whole world — including supporters of the old Cuban revolutionary myth — woke up to the new reality of an oligarchic, totalitarian and mafia state that has broken the social pact of communism, in which political and civil rights were trampled upon in exchange for providing certain social and economic security.” Since then, says the OCC, “the genie came out of the lamp and they have not been able to make it go back in.”
It has not served, the organization notes, “to approve in 30 days several decrees (which had not even been discussed for years) and to proclaim in the race that priority will be given to social attention to marginal neighborhoods (which grew for more than 62 years in full abandonment).” On the contrary, this “has reaffirmed the awareness that the power elite only makes concessions under effective public pressure, such as that of July 11.”
The NGO also states that since the 11J demonstrations “new expressions” of protest have emerged, such as calls by evangelical churches to pray in public “in favor of changes” or cacerolazos — protests featuring beating on pots and pans — which had not previously had roots in the Island.
The prayers in the streets, says the OCC, “put the repressive bodies before a difficult dilemma, because it is a terrible image to violently contain a group of residents who kneel in the street in front of their homes to ask God to make the changes the country needs possible without violence,”
The report also mentions the exile of the artist Hamlet Lavastida and the poet Katherine Bisquet to Poland, which, “has only managed to put into international circulation two artists who can now give direct testimony of their experiences under state terror.” The organization foresees that “the impact on the European Union media will not be long in coming.”
The report says “the perfect storm self-induced by national politics,” continues, including the “collapse of the health system,” “uncontrolled inflation” due to the implementation of the so-called Ordering Task*, and “energy insecurity,” which translates into constant blackouts, for which they blame “the policy of not making capital investments in this sector when resources were available for it under the thaw with the United States caused by Barack Obama, and the restructuring of the payment of the foreign debt.”
That citizens have become aware of these realities, the text continues, “has dismantled the myth of the official propaganda that all the evils that afflict the citizen have an external cause and are generated by the US Government (be it Trump or Biden ) and the ’Miami Mafia’.”
Regarding the management of the pandemic, the OCC highlights the “government attempt to blame doctors for poor service in hospitals,” which did not go well for the regime, because “it provoked multiple public responses, rejecting this slander and holding accountable to the Government for its disastrous management of the pandemic.”
This coming quarter, the Observatory ventures, appears “complicated.” On October 10, the document reports, the anniversary of the beginning of the First War of Independence, a group of religious figures has called for a “national day of prayer and reflection,” and on November 20, “the birth of Father Félix Varela,” they note that peaceful marches have been called in various cities.
“The only thing that is easy to predict is that the protests will not stop and that the elite will insist on crushing them uselessly.” Hence, the organization warns, “violent variants of personal protest may arise, not incited or summoned by any sector of civil society.”
In this regard, the OCC references the five “individual protests, led by unknown persons, in which some form of violence was used” registered in September. “Although it is an old tactic of the Ministry of the Interior — promoted by Cuban advisers in Venezuela — to infiltrate peaceful protests and generate violent events to justify state violence,” the text continues, “it is not ruled out that there are citizens against whom the State’s repression leads them to the conclusion that it is preferable to throw stones or Molotov cocktails at a State building from anonymity than to stand up in a non-violent protest that is condemned in advance to be violently repressed by military and paramilitary groups of the State.”
“The ultimate responsibility for the paths chosen by the resistance to oppression rests in the hands of the oppressors, not the oppressed,” asserts the NGO. The citizen actions called in October and November “have been announced publicly and in advance, sufficient for the authorities to hold the conveners responsible “if the State again opts to violate its own Constitution and exhorts its military and paramilitary bodies to another day of violence and repression against peaceful citizens.”
This time, The OCC warns, “the world is watching.”
*Translator’s note: Tarea ordenamiento = the [so-called] ‘Ordering Task’ which is a collection of measures that includes eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and other measures throughout the economy.
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.