Residents Take to the Streets of Altamira in Santiago de Cuba to Protest Against the Blackouts

Protests at the Altamira People’s Council in Santiago de Cuba on August 1, 2022. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana/Santiago de Cuba, 1 August 2022 — A demonstration in the Luis Dagnes neighborhood, at the Altamira People’s Council, Santiago de Cuba, included several residents protesting the blackouts and the precarious economic situation which the city is experiencing. The rally quickly caused the presence of several military and law enforcement forces, while the demonstrators shouted phrases against the government.

“They are abusing us. All morning without light and the power went out again at 11 in the morning,” activist Aurora Sancho explains to 14ymedio. “It all started with a neighbor who began to make noise with an iron bar and complain. Little by little, others joined him. People couldn’t take it anymore today.”

“They shouted slogans against Miguel Díaz-Canel; they also demanded that they turn on the power,” she adds. “Then the police arrived, along with the Red Berets and State Security.” Sancho’s house was surrounded “with two patrol cars” to prevent her from leaving. One of them was car 575, she points out.

Some residents of the area report that, during the protests, the provincial authorities of the Assembly of People’s Power, led by its president, Beatriz Johnson, began a “revolutionary argument” to calm the demonstrators.

“They brought Beatrix Johnson to make a speech, and people shouted at her. And so they would applaud her, they brought members of a Rapid Response Brigade. So far they have not returned the electricity service to us, and this is still totally taken over by the police.” Sancho believes that “finally the people woke up.”

Several images circulating on social networks record the presence on site of several patrols, police and high-ranking officers of the Ministry of the Interior.

“They entered the neighborhood wanting to repress, but people were only demonstrating peacefully. They wanted to strike blows but the neighbors didn’t let them. They handcuffed a young man who was only watching the protest, and when they were going to take him away, the people themselves protested more strongly and forced them to release him,” the activist adds.

The demonstrators improvised a conga line with several slogans and “even shouted slogans against Fidel Castro,” she says. Among the slogans they chanted were: “Enough is enough,” “Turn on the power, pricks ,” “Díaz-Canel, singao [motherfucker].” The main focus of the protests was on Comancié Street, between Castillo Duany and Piñeira, in the Luis Dagnes neighborhood.

“Then the police arrived, along with the Red Berets and State Security,” said an activist. (Courtesy)

In a video broadcast on social networks by users supportive of the regime, Beatriz Johnson is heard asking the residents for “patience” and said that the blackout schedules in the area were going to be reviewed. She also said that the local media would inform “all the people of Santiago de Cuba of the effects,” the causes and “the distribution of the cuts.”

Popular protests motivated by long power outages have been frequent in recent weeks. In municipalities such as Jagüey Grande, in Matanzas, up to two such demonstrations have occurred in less than a month.

Other places such as Bauta, in Artemisa, Covadonga, in Cienfuegos and Nuevitas, in Camagüey, have also been the scene of hundreds of neighbors who have taken to the streets to bang on pots and pans, with anti-government slogans and demanding freedom.

The People’s Council of Altamira is located in one of the poorest areas of Santiago de Cuba. In recent years, these neighborhoods have experienced a constant police siege, given that some activists and opponents reside in them, in addition to being the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU).

Translated by Regina Anavy 


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