Site manager’s note: This article was published in 14ymedio before the date for the opposition marches was changed to 15 November.
14ymedio, Havana, 8 October 2021 — With the alibi of the celebration of National Defense Day, the Cuban Government will militarize the country on November 20, coinciding with the marches called by the opposition in different provinces. The Archipiélago collective, the main promoter of the protests, will make its reaction public starting at 3:00 in the afternoon this Friday.
“Given the civility of our march called in due time and form for November 20, they respond with the threat of tanks. In case anyone still had doubts about the authoritarian and violent character of those who control power in Cuba …: Total militarization of the country from November 18 to 20. We will continue firm on the path of civility and peace. Arms, no. Rights!” wrote Yunior García, leader of the group and the demonstrations.
The Ministry of the Armed Forces reported on Thursday night, through a statement, the convocation of two days of military exercises, from November 18 to 20, which culminate that last day with the National Defense Day.
“Considering the improvement of the epidemiological situation in the country, the Moncada Exercise will be held on November 18 and 19,” the information indicates.
According to the official website Ecured, “the exercises conventionally known as Moncada play a very important role. These constitute the highest and most complex form of preparation of the chiefs and the command and management bodies, between one Bastion Strategic Exercise and another.”
Each year, military exercises are held at that time of year, although the dates chosen now must be interpreted, according to the opposition, as a clear response to the demonstrations. In addition, Moncada Exercises are of a higher level than traditional maneuvers and are usually announced much longer in advance.
The Moncada military exercises have been carried out sporadically with the objective of “increasing the level of preparation and cohesion of the leadership and command bodies at all levels, the troops, the economy and the population.”
The first time they were held was in 1980 — the most prominent were in 2007 and 2008 — and they are generally convened as a call to the United States “not to underestimate” the Cuban people.
The organizers of the protest have presented requests to the provincial governments in various territories of the country, with lists of signatures of people who supposedly support these actions, although there have already been reactions in the population due to the presence of apocryphal signatures.
The marches of November 20 were called two months in advance, taking into account that the 15th of the same month has been marked as the date the pandemic is expected to be controlled and there is a plan to reopen the country to tourism and educational activities will be resumed.
The organizers chose to follow the legal channels to request authorization, complying with the health measures, indicating the routes through which the marches will take place and pointing out that no national or international law prevents them from demonstrating peacefully. The group calls for freedom for political prisoners and the resolution of differences between Cubans through democratic and peaceful means.
However, so far the conveners have not only not received a formal response, but their intention to send the documentation has been hampered in some cases. The applicants have reported being threatened, harassed and defamed.
In addition, informally, State Security advised the government opponent Manuel Cuesta Morúa, during an interrogation, that the marches would be prohibited.
At the moment, this call for the Moncada Exercise seems tailored to intimidate the organizers who warned of their intention to march even if they did not obtain a response to their requests.
The marches are called to take place in Havana, Holguín, Santa Clara, Santiago de Cuba, Guantánamo, Cienfuegos, Las Tunas and Pinar del Río.
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