14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodriguez, Havana, 24 March 2023 — Early Tuesday morning a message critical of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) was scrawled on a wall in Aguirre Park, in Havana’s Revolution Plaza district. It has since been covered up by a coat of red paint. The garish color was crudely and sloppily applied over the graffiti, which is believed to be the work of an anonymous organization, El Nuevo Directorio (The Student Directorate), or END.
On Friday, passers-by looked on furtively, laughing at the wall where the words “No to the PCC,” written in huge letters, were being eradicated. In spite of the midday heat, several people sat around in random locations, carefully gauging the mood. Local residents, who are well-aware of State Security’s surveillance techniques, stayed clear of the area. “They always do the same thing,” says one woman who came to pick up her daughter at school. “They’re waiting to see if the person who painted it returns to the scene of the crime.”
In the background, the red paint is glowing even more intensely but no one dares go near. Dumpsters overflowing with trash and refuse round out the scene. On the other side of the wall is the stadium of the University of Havana, an institution that END has said it would like to see “disrupted.” END’s members have taken up the tradition of painting inflammatory, anti-government slogans, just as another organization, the University Student Directorate, did in the 1930s against the country’s tyranical president, Gerardo Machado.
“We’ve infiltrated your universities, your hospitals and ministries. We have so much information that we will destroy you from within,” read a message posted a few weeks ago on END’s Twitter profile page. It has described itself and “a movement for peaceful, active action” that adheres to “the ideas and legacy of [José] Martí and José Antonio Echeverría.”
The organization is thought to be responsible for another sign, painted on the facade of the school’s Department of Physics on March 20. A week earlier, someone also wrote, “Down with the dictatorship, the murderous Castros” — in sand and in broad daylight — down the middle of Crespo Street, near the corner of Trocadero, in Central Havana.
In that instance, authorities got rid of the sign very quickly. That was not the case with the graffiti in Aguirre Park, where it remained until the following morning as counterintelligence deployed a monitoring device and stationed dozens of agents in the area. Political graffiti has become more common since the protests of July 11, 2021.
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