14ymedio, Madrid, 4 October 2022 — Singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez sees “something positive” in last Friday’s mass demonstration on 31st Avenue in the Havana municipality of Playa: it “was guarded by law enforcement but not repressed.”
In a post published on Saturday on his blog Segunda Cita (Second Date) the troubadour confesses that the protest, which took place after almost 100 hours without electricity due to a widespread blackout on the Island after Hurricane Ian, made him “sad.” The reason, he says, is that “they didn’t seem to be of the privileged classes who rebuke a inheritor government of a Revolution that was made in blood and fire for the humble.”
“How is it possible that such a distortion has been reached? Is it a mirage for the intensification of a six-decade blockade, or because of how difficult it has become to get food after the pandemic, or because of the havoc that the hurricane caused us?” Rodríguez asks, suggesting again and in his own way a slight criticism of the system that he doesn’t reject.
Taking, as on other occasions, both a hard and soft line, the musician concedes on one hand that “it’s worth asking how much responsibility belongs to those of us who have bet, more than our lives, our history, on an emancipatory project,” but, on the other, affirms that “essentially, I’m sure we weren’t wrong — and I’m not enumerating the virtues, the resounding benefits for the Cuban people that the revolutionary process meant.”
Rodríguez’s text was published on precisely the same day that, for the first time since the demonstrations began after the hurricane, the regime unleashed the usual repression.
Police officers, but above all State Security agents and military service recruits dressed in civilian clothes and armed with sticks responded on Saturday night to a spontaneous protest that took place in the middle of Vedado in Havana, on Línea and F. There, the neighbors had blocked the street with barricades made from overturned garbage containers, branches of fallen trees and other objects.
In addition, as shown in videos released by the Spanish agency EFE, the demonstrators faced the authorities and the official civilian brigade — which shouted revolutionary slogans such as “Fidel, Fidel” or “Viva Díaz-Canel” — demanding not only “light” but “freedom” and chanting “down with the dictatorship” and “Díaz-Canel motherfucker.”
Although the regime has wanted to sell the idea that in no case was there repression and that the agents responded to “provocations” of violent demonstrators, images disseminated by international media, such as Reuters and The Associated Press, show that those who were armed were the government agents.
On Tuesday, the Justice 11J platform updated the number of detainees since September 30, which has now reached 26. The last arrests registered by the organization are Rafael Zamora Mederos, José Adalberto Fernández Cañizares ( both 38 years old), Alejandro Guilleuma Ibáñez (29), Hillary Gutiérrez (26 ) and Frank Artola (18).
According to Justice 11J, Zamora Mederos, a member of the Movement of Opponents for a New Republic, was arrested on Saturday and is in the Vivac prison of Havana accused of public disorder “just for walking through the streets on a day of protest.” The platform reports that his relatives have tried to raise 16,000 pesos for his bail, but it’s been impossible, and Mederos is “on a hunger and thirst strike.”
About Fernández Cañizares, nicknamed Pepitín, acquaintances of his family confirmed to this newspaper that he was hit in the head and was transferred to the Calixto García hospital to be given 37 stitches, according to the doctor who attended him, his own mother. In addition, they fractured his nasal septum. The young man is accused of public disorder and resistance.
Alejandro Guilleuma Ibáñez, Hillary Gutiérrez and Frank Artola are locked up in the DTI 100 detention center and Aldabó, also in the capital, for the same crimes.
Witnesses also claim that this last group was mistreated. Frank “is an exemplary teenager who attends the parish church on Línea in El Vedado. He suffered a fracture of the septum; his lips were split and one of his eyes was swollen because of the blows he received,” wrote Adrián Martínez Cádiz, who added: “His sister, Hillary Gutiérrez, is a good girl. She has a little girl who cries because of her mother’s absence.”
Justice 11J emphasized that “the reports of people injured, brutally beaten and currently in detention for protesting are alarming.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
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