Decrease of Protests in Cuba Coincides with Approval of the New Penal Code

Carlos Varela’s performance this Sunday in Havana, where cries of “freedom” were heard.

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Miami, 2 June 2022 — Cuba registered 185 public protests in May, 108 less than in the previous month, according to the report of the Cuban Observatory of Conflicts (OCC) released this Wednesday. The report ties this “decrease” with the entry into force of the Island’s new Penal Code, with its “greater penalization of crimes.”

“Nine months after the popular uprising of July 11, 2021, the cries of ’Libertad’ [Freedom] were not extinguished in Cuba,” the OCC, an autonomous civil society project supported by the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba, based in the United States, says in its monthly report.

According to the report, among the 185 public protests registered on the island, one occurred in the “largest coliseum in the country,” where the slogan Libertad “rumbled” for several minutes.

“The cries of ’Libertad’ chanted for several minutes at the Sports City Coliseum, during a concert by singer-songwriter Carlos Varela, revealed the mirage of supposed ’governance’ that was intended to be exhibited with the compulsory May 1 parade,” says the statement.

The OCC also attributes the 37% “decrease” in the protests in relation to the previous month to the reduction of prison sentences for some of the participants in the 11J protests, “which could have created positive expectations among family members and sympathizers of who are still awaiting sentencing.”

Other factors cited are the “migratory exodus that is equated to a new Mariel,” and “the measures of the Biden Administration making the sanctions more flexible, which create hope that tourist activities will resume” on the Island.

Among the May protests, which occurred in the 15 provinces of the country and the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud, those motivated by economic and social rights predominated for the first time (58%), while 77 protests (42% of the total) focused on political and civil rights, the report details.

May presents two new features. For the first time, the protests decreased to levels equivalent to those of March 2021 (184). Also for the first time, the number of economic and social protests (108) surpassed those motivated by political and civil rights (77),” it says.

According to the report, the “lack of transparency” by the Cuban government regarding the explosion that occurred on May 6 at the Saratoga Hotel, with a toll of 46 dead and almost a hundred injured, was also a reason for mistrust.

“The hasty and final official assessment — given by politicians, not by experts — that it was an unfortunate accident, was not well received,” the report finds.

According to the OCC, “the victims demand explanations and question why there were more police patrols in the place than the few ambulances that took time to arrive to attend to the wounded.”

“Cuba continues to be a social bomb with a short fuse, especially in the summer months when schools close and young people return to the streets, today fraught with serious economic and social tensions,” the report concludes.


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