14ymedio, Havana/Miami, 3 October 2022 – – A group of Cubans living in Miami gathered this Sunday in front of the Versailles Restaurant to support the protests that have been taking place on the island since the electrical system collapsed after the passage of Hurricane Ian, leaving millions of citizens without service. The Internet cuts began in order to prevent communication and dissemination of the demonstrations and their repression.
Among those gathered in front of the legendary Florida restaurant were historical opponents such as former political prisoner Jorge Luis García Pérez, Antúnez, and Cuba Decide leader Rosa María Payá; along with other recently arrived opponents such as rapper Eliecer Márquez Duany, El Funky, graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado, El Sexto, independent journalist Esteban Rodríguez, and boxer Yordenis Ugás. In addition, actor Roberto San Martín and influencer Alexander Otaola were also present.
Together with them, more than 200 Cuban exiles called on the international community not to abandon Cuba in the face of repression and called on Joe Biden’s Administration to take a strong stand against the Cuban regime and refuse to send aid.
In a brief speech, Rosa María Payá, daughter of the late leader of the Christian Liberation Movement and the promoter of the Varela Project, Oswaldo Paya, insisted that the aid that Castroism is asking the U.S. government for should not be provided, since the people have taken to the streets to demand freedom and not business or aid. “Business will come when Cuba is free,” cried the activist, who added that the opposition will help at that time.
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Payá insisted that it is necessary to send a message to the Biden Administration that there should be no rapprochement that would legitimize the dictatorship and would not change anything for the population.
Among the demonstrators, some called for military intervention in Cuba, although most showed their solidarity with the protests and support for those who are in the streets of the island standing up to the authorities. “If Cuba is in the streets, so is Miami,” they chanted.
Many of those who gathered this Sunday in front of the Versailles were recent arrivals to the U.S. who were telling each other about their journey through Nicaragua. There were also some who were still fearful of the presence of several police units guarding the peaceful development of the rally, although the more experienced ones asked for calm. “The police are here to take care of us,” they said to each other.
Meanwhile, this Sunday night Cubans went out again in several cities, according to videos that circulated on social networks. From Punta Brava and Santiago de las Vegas, in the Havana municipalities of La Lisa and Boyeros or Capellanía, in Artemisa, came testimonies of different pots and pans in which people shouted “We want the lights”.
According to the organization Justicia 11J, since September 30 there have been 20 arrests of participants in these protests, 14 of whom are still in detention.
“About 15 people [were] detained over last night’s protests in Linea Street, Vedado and Arroyo Arenas,” in Havana, as well as in Baracoa, the collective said on Twitter. They are in addition to five arrests in previous days.
Although the relatives “have been told that the demonstrators will soon be released”, some of those who were detained in Vedado have been transferred to the Technical Department of Investigations (DTI), where suspects are usually taken for prosecution.
Justice 11J also reports that five protesters from Havana, Villa Clara and Guantanamo have already been released.
In addition, the organization Amnesty International (AI) charged on Sunday that “protests are intensifying in Cuba” and that they are receiving “reports of repression, possible detentions and Internet cuts”.
“We demand that the government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel put an end to the repression, and listen to the demands of those who protest peacefully,” AI stressed on Twitter.
Hurricane Ian crossed the western tip of Cuba from south to north on Tuesday, with heavy rains and winds of up to 200 kilometers per hour, causing heavy material damage and five deaths, according to the latest official balance published on Sunday.
The Cuban Electric Union (UNE) multiplied this weekend its announcements of new electric circuits reestablished, but outages and blackouts continue without it being possible to distinguish whether they are a consequence of the major breakdown last Tuesday or of the months of generation deficit accumulated by the system due to the continuous breakdowns of thermoelectric plants and distributed generating plants.
In Havana, UNE has reported that 95.3% of customers now have electricity, but there is still no service in some parts of the city. Regarding water supply, at a meeting of the Government of Havana it was said that 92% of the population is receiving service, with 170,000 customers pending.
On the other hand, the restoration of services is extremely slow in the province of Pinar del Río, the most affected by the hurricane, where only 7% of the 235,311 customers have electricity service and, according to the authorities, the situation will be normalized within 15 to 20 days.
Translated by: Hombre de Paz
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