14ymedio, Havana, 21 August 2022 — Nuevitas, Camagüey spent the day on Saturday under a heavy police operation, with restricted access to the internet and the streets patrolled by police and the military. Protests against the long power outages occurred on two consecutive days last week in that city.
Justicia 11J reported the “violent” arrest of José Armando Torrente on Saturday for his alleged participation in the protests in the Pastelillo neighborhood. The organization warned that “there is audiovisual evidence of aggression against his 11-year-old daughter, Gerlin Torrente Echeverría and another girl who was with her on Friday night, when police repressed the protesters.
Justicia 11J also stated that Gerlin’s mother was violently arrested but freed on Saturday night. Meanwhile, police have interrogated 21-year-old Fray Claro Valladares for his participation in the protests and also a 21-year-old young woman, known as La Chamaca, for live streaming the protests on Facebook.
On the other hand, arrests have also been reported in the area of Camalote, 52 kilometers from Nuevitas in the same province of Camagüey, where on Friday residents joined protests against the blackouts. Authorities avoided shutting off power on Saturday night in that municipality, according to neighbors who confirmed this to 14ymedio.
Although Justicia 11J is still verifying the information of those arrested, on social media they have published a list of at least six people arrested for participating in Friday’s protests. Among those arrested is Yasmani García Ramírez, who appears in several videos speaking to the rest of the protesters.
“It is worth fighting for a humble people who are paying for the blackouts in Cuba, suffering because their money is worthless to buy at the store, that is true, what everyone should know: we are living human misery. . .we are the most miserable country in the world. We’re all here demanding our rights as people, as citizens,” he is heard saying in a video where he is identified as Yasmani García and he ended by yelling, “Díaz-Canel, motherfucker!”
After his arrest, a video of his mother, Rogelina Ramírez, was shared; she confirmed her son’s arrest and stated that he only demanded his rights. “My son is only defending children, young people, those young people who like him have rights. Once children in this country turn 7 years old, they no longer have milk. At 7 years old they stop having breakfast and only have a packet of coffee mixed with seeds, which is what they can have before going to school,” says the woman.
Yasmani García’s mother also criticized the inequality in access to food and that most people cannot access Freely Convertible Currency (MLC) stores. “There is always a part of society which benefits, benefits from that money that comes from abroad.”
According to the names shared on social media, Michel Escalera Ramírez, Kenay Perdomo Osorio, Héctor Curbelo, José Antonio Rodríguez Vega, Richard Conté Bigeltaf were also arrested in addition to an unidentified woman who had been beaten for demanding her son’s release.
The protests in Nuevitas began on Thursday night with shouts of “the people are tired.” Hundreds of neighbors took to the streets yelling slogans of freedom and demanding electricity. That day they also threatened to return to the streets if the authorities cut off the power again. By the light of their cell phones, those people held the largest protest since July 11th, which was repeated on Friday, this time with police presence.
Since Friday, the residents of Nuevitas reported its militarization. “All day they filled the town with black berets [Army Special Forces] who passed slowly in their vehicles down each street to intimidate us,” denounced a young protester, anonymously, on Saturday.
Justicia 11J reported 59 protests in response to blackouts in different neighborhoods throughout Cuba between June 14th and August 4th. The energy crisis affecting the Island has been increasing since June and, since July, the blackouts last between 10 and 14 hours a day.
The provincial government of Camagüey reported a new schedule of outages in the province of up to six hours by blocks. For Sunday, the state-run Unión Eléctrica expected a deficit of at least 34% in the electric power it generated.
Translated by: Silvia Suárez
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