Despite Threats From Plainclothes Agents, Cubans in the Provinces Protest by Banging on Pots and Pans

Arrival of repressive forces to prevent the protest on the night of August 9 in La Esperanza, Cienfuegos. (Justice 11J/Captura)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, August 17, 2022 — Cubans banged on pots and pans again on Tuesday night in protest against the long blackouts they are suffering. In San Antonio de los Baños, where the protests of July 11, 2021 began, the noise was heard in the neighborhoods of Hospital, El Palenque, La Punta and La Placita, among others.

“After ten hours without electricity, we were supposed to have power between eight and eleven at night, but our service was cut off again at about ten,” María de los Ángeles Alfonso, a resident of San Antonio, explains to 14ymedio. She joined the demonstration when she “heard the banging in the distance.”

“I went out with my daughter, and we started shouting to get the lights back on; we also shouted ’freedom’. A little later, some plainclothes police arrived on motorcycles and asked us to go home,” she explains.

The officials told the residents that they were “giving pleasure to the enemy and the empire,” but the warnings didn’t persuade them to go home and stop the cacerolazo.* “I told them that for me the enemy was the one who wouldn’t let me live a normal life,” says Alfonso.

Despite being threatened with consequences if they persisted, “no one went home, and they continued to bang,” Alfonso says. “We almost had another blackout in the early hours of the morning, and these are holy hours when they don’t cut off the electricity. So demanding works.”

Through social networks, the usual medium in these cases, some videos were published where you can hear, in complete darkness, the beating on metal. Reports also include a cacerolazo on Tuesday night in the Pekin neighborhood of Güira de Melena, the third protest in less than a week in this municipality of Artemis province.

To the cry of “Homeland and life!” dozens of residents in the city of Manzanillo, in the province of Granma, also took to the streets to protest this Tuesday against the power outage. The demonstration forced the authorities to reinforce the police presence around the government headquarters, as reported on social networks by neighbors.

This demonstration joins the many that have occurred in recent days in several places on the island, such as Santa Clara, Bejucal, Holguín, Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba and Pinar del Río.

As a result of these protests, a total of 57 people have been arrested, 33 of them are still in police custody, according to a statement from Justice 11J published on its Facebook page on Tuesday.

The legal platform, created to follow up on the hundreds of defendants after the demonstrations of July last year, has registered up to 59 protests on the island over power cuts since June 14.

Likewise, since they published their first report on the subject on August 4, as of this Tuesday, the organization counted 15 more protests.

“Despite the fact that the new events have been mostly peaceful (we have verified only one incident of property damage), we note the escalation of state violence,” they said in their text, which reports that there was “intervention by repressive forces to contain concentrations of people” on August 5 in Martí Park, and on August 9 in the La Esperanza neighborhood, both in the city of of Cienfuegos, and on the 8th in the Alcides Pino neighborhood in Holguín.

In La Esperanza, in addition, “people reported that they beat protesters and that a pregnant woman was arrested.”

They also warn that in San José de las Lajas (province of Mayabeque), where there were cacerolazos on August 1 and 12, agents from the Ministry of the Interior threatened the demonstrators with “years of prison.”

Justice 11J has had access to two judicial decrees imposing a precautionary measure for the crimes of public disorder and contempt issued by the Municipal Prosecutor’s Office of Palmira (Cienfuegos), which include information on 16 people, 12 with a measure of pretrial detention.

*Translator’s note: Cacerolazo is a word coined for demonstrations where people go out on the street, or from their doors, windows and balconies, and bang on “casseroles” (pots and pans) to protest. 

Translated by Regina Anavy


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