14ymedio, Havana, 10 October 2021 — On October 10, the date on which the wars of independence began in Cuba in 1868, this Sunday, the island has faced a lackluster official celebration, police operations around the houses of activists, and cuts in the internet service. The 153rd anniversary of the start of that long ago feat comes at a time of great social tension after the protests on July 11.
At least a score of activists denounced police sieges, threats and the suspension of their mobile web browsing service. The writer and photographer Ariel Maceo Tellez was one of the most affected on this day, when he even received a visit from a captain of the National Revolutionary Police who gave him a police summons.
The activist, and member of the Archipelago platform, Saily González, published a complaint about the police operation around her home to prevent her from going out on the street. In the images, a State Security agent is seen on a motorcycle guarding the house, in Santa Clara, and threatening a relative of the activist filming the scene. “This is going to cost you dearly,” warns the man.
On the day that recalls the moment when Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, known as the Father of the Nation, freed his slaves and began the fight against Spanish rule, several Cuban dissidents lamented the parallels between the lack of freedoms on the island during the colony and the current violation of human rights.
Luz Escobar, a reporter at 14ymedio, has also been the victim of an operation by the political police to prevent her from going out into the streets. The journalist has a police patrol and an agent in civilian clothes around her home, a cordon she has experienced more than twenty times so far this year and in some cases the confinement has lasted more than two weeks.
Reports of internet access cuts on mobile phones have also been repeated throughout the island. In the newsroom of this newspaper, the web browsing service was suspended since dawn and several 14ymedio contributors also suffered similar cuts for several hours.
For their part, the official celebrations were minor, compared with other years, and were surrounded by a wide deployment of security, especially in Havana, where Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel participated in a meeting with official historians, an event that was the framework for the delivery of the National Prize for History, the prizes for Historical Criticism and other decorations.
The president’s presence in the central University Hill of the Cuban capital created a large presence of police and military personnel throughout the area of El Vedado.
In the east of the country, tribute was paid to the grave of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes in the Santa Ifigenia cemetery, Santiago de Cuba, which included floral offerings by Díaz-Canel and Raúl Castro Ruz, the latter who had not appeared in public for several weeks ago.
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