Cuban Officials Mobilize Public Sector Workers to Confront ‘Mercenaries’

“Acts of revolutionary reaffirmation” were reported at several locations in Havana.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, July 14, 2021 — While key locations in Havana, such as the Capitol, continue to be heavily guarded by police, there are increasing reports of large scale mobilizations of “rapid response brigades” at workplaces throughout the city.

Simultaneously, young Cubans of military age are being recruited and reservists are being mobilized.

An employee at a state-owned textile plant was summarily fired after refusing to participate in a counterdemonstration.

“I was at the Sunday protest at Ayestarán and Aranguren and saw people in civilian clothes with rocks and baseball bats in their hands. Several protesters had been hit in the head and were bleeding,” Natasha Medina told 14ymedio.

“I went with my cousin, who was very frightened, so I couldn’t stay long,” said the young mother, who works as a translator. “I took a lot of photos but, as we were leaving, eight guys told us we had to delete the photos and videos. I refused but they told us that, if I didn’t, they would arrest us and my cousin freaked out.”

Something similar happened when employees of a publishing house went to “a farm owned by the UJC (Union of Young Communists) looking for sticks” to hand out to company workers to “defend themselves from provocations by mercenaries.” A source at a publishing house told 14ymedio that several employees at the farm said they were not going to be giving sticks to anyone.

In the city of Cardenas elite troops from the Revolutionary Armed Forces barged into the house of Daniel Cardenas Diaz, beat him, shot him and took him into custody. The incident was recorded on video, which was widely distributed on social media. This incident, which occurred on the corner of Velazquez and Palma streets, followed a speech by President Miguel Diaz-Canel in which he called upon government loyalists to confront the protesters who were calling for freedom throughout the entire country last weekend.

“Why did they do this in my house? There’s nothing here. The broke everything. They took everything away,” laments Marbelis Vazquez, wife of the detainee. A puddle of blood remains in the middle of the living room floor, evidence of military aggression. “They shot him down… and loaded him in the back of a truck like a pig,” she adds.

“Acts of revolutionary affirmation” were also reported on Wednesday in Vedado’s Mariana Grajales Park, where loudspeakers were installed early in the day to play a selection of songs by pro-government songwriters. “They are already mobilizing factory workers from here in the neighborhood to attend the event. I also see groups of people have arrived from nearby workplaces,” says one resident.

“This is unheard of,” noted a young Sancti Spiritus resident outside a Havana hard currency store on Wednesday morning. “The place is closed and heavily guarded but there’s no explanation why, though everyone knows it’s because of fear it will be ransacked, as happened other parts of Cuba.”

“But even with all of this, and the alarming pandemic figures, jeeps with loudspeakers roam the streets, exhort people to come out and defend the Revolution,” he adds. “Isn’t all movement supposed to be restricted after 2:00 PM because of the virus?” For the young man from Spiritus, it is becoming increasingly difficult to “understand these people.”

The use of force does not seem to have affected the morale of protesters, as indicated by an act of repudiation directed at two women suspected of being chivatonas, or state security informants. The scene, in which loud voices were heard but no acts of physical violence against the alleged offenders were witnessed, seems to have occurred in a small town somewhere in the country’s interior, though no one has said exactly where.


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