Cuban Prosecutors Threaten to Try Organizers of Peaceful Protests

Protestors on a Havana street on July 11 2021. (Marcos Evora)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, October 21, 2021 — Faced with the Civic March for Change, organized by Archipiélago for November 15th, Cuban authorities increase the pressure and declare it, without ambiguity, illegal. Cuba’s Attorney General warned that those who decide to participate in the protests will be charged with “crimes of disobedience, illegal protests, instigating a crime” and sanctioned as a result.

The new official threats took into consideration “the intention, stated publicly by the organizers, to go ahead with the call to march,” after “government authorities denied the request presented by some citizens to conduct marches in eight provinces of the country, considering them illegal,” as stated in the official declaration by state media.

The Government’s response, which grounds its argument in article 156 of the Constitution, referred to functions of the Prosecutor as “ensuring strict compliance with the Magna Carta [Constitution],” arrived on the same day as members of Archipiélago were summoned by prosecutors in Havana, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos and Holguín, where organizers of the marches submitted similar documents to notify local authorities of the activity.

Playwright Yunior García Aguilera, one of the most visible leaders of Archipiélago, considered the Prosecutor’s decision “a direct threat from the seat of power.”

“If the threats are realized, they try me or detain me, I refuse any
type of defense,” proclaimed the young man, who was arrested for participating in the massive antigovernment protests on July 11th and for which he is still under precautionary measures.

Furthermore, García denounced that if he is tried, it would be a “farce” because his “sentence is probably already signed as of today.”

“I will maintain silence if that trial proceeds,” declared the young man as he lamented that there is not a single institution in the country “that is on our side, the citizens, who are neither mercenaries nor receive orders from anywhere.”

“We openly present a difference of opinion and of the country we want to build in which we want to participate in politics in a civic and peaceful manner,” said García.

For his part, rapper and activist Omar Mena from Santa Clara also a member of Archipiélago, considers that “everything that moves in this country is moved by the strings of the State Security,” as occurs with the declaration of the Prosecutor. “If we lived in a democratic country, where various parties existed and the Prosecutor worked on its sole task, to try without regard to political posture,” declared this young man to 14ymedio, “however, all these are mechanisms of the Cuban government so it may act with the impunity with which it is acting.”

“What occurred today is more of the same,” he continued, “threats and all the things  they are accustomed to doing, resources they’ve already exhausted.”

Mena does not have “the slightest idea” of what will happen on November 15th — “this is unpredictable,” he says, “no one expected July 11th” — however he believes that “it will always be useful, whether we go out or they don’t let us” and that he does expect “a lot of repression.”

“Perhaps on the 15th no one will be able to go out, perhaps we’ll all be under house arrest, perhaps many of us will be jailed, but what is certain is that a social outbreak is coming, he ventures. “Because the people are tired, and it is no longer only the opposition. The opposition has created a platform and armed the people with knowledge, but as a result it is the people who are taking action.” At some point, he concludes, “something definitive will occur.”

Archipiélago also responded to the government through social media. “Today the authoritarian power has explicitly demonstrated in all its magnitude, its dictatorial face, using the Prosecutor’s Office to threaten and intimidate citizens, when its legal role is to guard legal practice and constitutional law,” the group published in a post on its Facebook page, where they assert that the group continues its effort to march on November 15th. “All we have left is our bodies,” they continued, and warned that “the authoritarianism may arrest the moderators of the platform, but not the desires of an entire people for change and freedom.”

At the beginning of the week, Archipiélago created a list of suggestions for those who would like to join the march, which will occur, specified the group, in areas announced by the organizers in each province from 3 to 6 pm.

As a security measure, they recommend going in groups, with white clothes and flags of the same color packed in backpacks to avoid being detained before reaching the designated departure area.

“In the event of a violent incident, maintain calm and try speaking with the agitated person. All violent acts are distant from the spirit of the Civic March for Change, as we should always respond to authoritarianism with civility,” said the statement shared on the group’s Facebook page.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez


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