Internet Cuts and ‘Black Berets’ To Repress Hundreds of Protesters in Cuba

According to the images circulating on the networks, the demonstration was dominated by women and young people. (Collage)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Mexico, 6 May 2023 — Hundreds of Cubans took to the streets to protest, asking for “freedom” in the municipality of Caimanera, in Guantanamo, this Saturday afternoon. Several videos circulating on networks, as well as live broadcasts through Facebook, recorded the demonstration, where women and young people predominated.

The protest was repressed by uniformed men from the National Special Brigade of the Ministry of the Interior known as the “black berets,” who arrested several of the demonstrators. The images transmitted from the scene show the military, in the rain, beating several people and arresting others.

This Sunday, the independent journalist Yosmany Mayeta Labrada shared  three images through his Facebook account and reported the arrest of Yandris Pelier Matos, Felipe Correa Martínez, Rodi Álvarez González, Luis Miguel Alarcón Martínez and Daniel Álvarez González after the massive protest in Caimanera.

Opposition member Yeris Curbelo Aguilera also told Mayeta Labrada that “the municipality remains completely militarized until now.”

After 11 p.m. this Saturday, NetBlock, an observatory that monitors Internet connection outages around the world, reported that Internet traffic had collapsed on the island after the protests in Caimanera and that it had subsequently been restored, but only partially.

This Sunday morning several activists and independent journalists continued to have their mobile data service cut off.

In one of the images, a group of protesters is seen in front of the municipal headquarters of the Communist Party and the municipal government waving their hands and shouting “freedom” and “Patria y Vida!” Then, at least three men climbed some steps and, looking inside the building, shouted their slogans louder, among them: “Down with the communist system.” Shortly afterwards they withdrew, but the people continued the protest.

“The communist people here cannot come out, they hide,” said a user who was broadcasting live from Caimanera, who later added ironically: “This is the May Day parade, look at this,” referring to the crowd that gathered. “Yesterday the workers marched, now the people are marching, truly the people, whoever does not agree with this here.”

At another time, a woman is heard complaining about the “hunger” and the “needs” that Cubans are going through.

As on other occasions, after 9 pm the peaceful demonstration was barely known on the networks, when the regime chose to cut off the internet on cell phones and interrupt mobile and landline phone calls, as well as SMS.

Some users, especially in the west of the country, after the internet cut, were able to connect for a few minutes using a VPN.

The 14ymedio newsroom in Mexico lost communication with Havana shortly after the massive demonstration took place.

The municipality of Caimanera, with some 11,000 inhabitants, according to official figures, is located near the United States naval base. Nestled in the third largest bay in this part of the world, its 362 square kilometers are only accessible by locals or those with a special permit from the Cuban authorities.

The Government has always given special treatment to this Guantanamo territory, which does not have any other municipality in the country and which includes a 30% salary bonus, in addition to a more generous ration book than that given to the rest of the Cubans.

The lack of freedoms, the aggravated economic crisis and the increase in repression experienced by Cubans in recent years have led to several protests, which reached a climax on July 11, 2021. After what has come to be called ’11J’, the courts sentenced individuals to long sentences, imprisoning hundreds of people with the clear objective of intimidating opponents. However, the repression has not been able to contain the discontent of the people, who from time to time bang on pots and or cry out for freedom throughout the length and breadth of the Island.


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