Police Operations, Internet Outages and Surveillance Against Activists Mark May 20 in Cuba

State Security agents in front of the Deauville hotel in Havana on May 20. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 21 May 2023 — Police barricades in front of homes  and internet cuts on the cell phones of opponents, activists and independent journalists marked this May 20 on the Island, during the 121st anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Cuba. Part of the editorial staff of 14ymedio was incommunicado throughout the day due to the interruption of its mobile lines.

The area of the Havana coast was also, from the early hours of this Saturday, under an intense operation. The call launched by some activists to remember the founding of the Republic caused State Security agents and uniformed police to patrol the area, stand on the corners and monitor everyone who approached the Malecón.

At the confluence of Galiano Street with Malecón Avenue, several police vehicles and a large operation were observed around noon. This newspaper received reports from military service recruits who were transferred from their units to monitor the coastal area because “something is going to happen on May 20,” according to the mother of one of these young people.

Activist Agustín López Canino, who had called for a commemoration of the anniversary on the Malecón of Havana, broadcast live from Facebook early in the morning to say that he was going to be arrested. “They’re coming for me. I have been informed that the patrol is advancing towards my house and well, let’s see what happens with all this on May 20. I can’t transmit more because they’re are already arriving.”

“Thank you to all those who care about the freedom of Cuba… and what needs to be done here is to peacefully claim the rights that correspond to us by human condition,” added the leader of the Cubanos de Adentro y de Abajo movement who resides in El Globo, Calabazar, and who was arrested years before on the same date.

“Also for the 121st anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Cuba, on May 20 they have posted three political police officers on the outskirts of our building to prevent us from leaving,” Yoani Sánchez, director of 14ymedio, posted on her Facebook page, after making public that the regime had cut off her access to the internet, a repressive action of which the journalist Boris González was also a victim.

Activist Niurka Caridad Ortega Cruz, a member of Independent Democratic Cuba, received a summons from the Ministry of the Interior for this May 20 with the aim of “being interviewed” at the Calabazar police station. The document, shared by friends on social networks, is signed by “Captain José” and is nothing more than another repressive instrument to keep opponents away from the commemoration of May 20.

The application of repressive measures, now usual on this date, is in line with the statements of the Cuban president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, who pointed out last year that only “the annexationists” celebrate on May 20, when Cuba was “kidnapped by the empire until 1959.”

However, 90 miles across the Florida Straits, the Cubans of Miami celebrated this May 20 with a series of political and cultural events.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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