Cubans Confront the Police to Let Them Leave the Island by Raft

Imágenes de las protestas de pobladores de un asentamiento en Playa Baracoa. (Collage)
Images of the protests of residents of a settlement in Playa Baracoa. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 30 August 2022 — Despite the repression in each of the places where demonstrations have taken place in recent days, dozens of Cubans staged a new protest this Monday. On this occasion, it was in the town of El Cepem, of the Costa Norte People’s Council, Caimito, in Artemisa, after the police tried to prevent the departure of several illegal rafts. The place, which has taken its name from the acronym of a nearby military unit, has become an illegal settlement with precarious housing and heavy threats from officials to punish the residents with evictions.

“If they don’t want us, because we are an illegal community, if we don’t fit in this country because our wages are not enough to buy in hard currency stores, if there is no oil for the thermoelectric plants to work, let us make the decisions for our own lives,” said one of the neighbors acting as a spokesman for the attacked residents of the place.

In a video broadcast by the exiled Albert Fonse, the moment in which special troops violently burst into several homes is observed, provoking the indignation of the residents. The altercation ended in a confrontation that left several people injured and at least six arrested, according to reports from witnesses to the events.

In the transmitted images, a man is seen who, on behalf of the residents, stood up to the officials, as was captured in another video. “Don’t treat us that way,” the neighbor tells uniformed police officers. “You are like parents who take care of the child and do not let him learn to go out in the street, so when he does go out in the street the child does not know how to express himself.” And he adds: “Allow us the opportunity to decide for our own lives.”

The man, who describes himself as the father of an eight-month-old girl, insists that they are not stealing anything from anyone, and that when they find

“one of those artifacts,” referring to homemade boats, they represent thousands of pesos raised by each family to be able to go “We don’t want to go against you, we don’t want those people to come and attack us and we have to have this response,” he reiterates.

This Cuban insisted on his request that they not be attacked when they are “making a boat, that what they should do is give us a medal… What they should make is a monument to the rafters,” making it clear that the departure of Cubans represents remittances for the Island.

The flow of rafters responds to the worsening of the humanitarian and economic crisis that the island is experiencing, with a resurgence of repression and economic deterioration, which includes a rise in the cost of living, the devaluation of the Cuban peso and an increase in uncertainty about the future. In the last ten months, almost 178,000 Cubans have entered the United States by land, surpassing the figures recorded in the Mariel Boatlift in 1980 and the Rafter Crisis in 1994.


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