14ymedio, Havana, 14 July 2021 — For the island’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodríguez, “there was no social outbreak in Cuba” on July 11, but rather an “information war” with the participation of large US companies such as Twitter.
During a nearly two hour appearance before 25 foreign correspondents on Tuesday, the minister accused the US of “taking advantage of the pandemic situation” to attack the revolutionary government. “
The Foreign Minister said he had seen scenes of repression “worse in Europe” than those that have occurred on the island since Sunday, when thousands of people rose up against the regime in numerous cities in the country. For the chancellor, the demonstrations of unarmed citizens are nothing more than “riots,” “disorders” and “vandalism,” the blame for which he placed directly on the northern neighbor.
Rodríguez defended the actions of the regime offering the official arguments: the “increased aggression” of the United States, through the “blockade” and the financing with “hundreds of millions of dollars” to “subversive agents” to “interfere in the internal affairs” of the island.
The US saw in the virus, said Rodríguez, “an opportunity” to reinforce “the blockade” with political motives and apply what it called “maximum pressure measures to reinforce the aggression against our country.”
Regarding a possible flotilla with humanitarian aid launched to Cuba from Florida, the minister dropped a veiled threat. “I hope (the United States) does not repeat experiences that had tragic consequences in the past,” while not directly mentioning the shooting down of two American Brothers to the Rescue planes in 1996, which left four dead and caused then-President Bill Clinton to sign the Helms-Burton Act.
Far from mentioning these facts, Rodríguez asked the current president, Joe Biden, to suspend the implementation of Title III of that Law, put in place by the previous Administration in 2019, which allows US citizens to sue both Cuban and foreign companies that are benefiting from properties that were expropriated after the triumph of the Revolution in 1959.
At the same time, he continued to warn that “their irresponsible policy may have serious consequences that damage the national interest of both countries.”
“Calling for a humanitarian intervention in Cuba,” he asserted, referring to messages associated with the #SOSCuba hashtag, “is asking for a US military intervention,” which he illustrated with the NATO bombings in Yugoslavia and the 1983 “invasion” of Granada.
“I can say that I have seen really strong scenes of police violence and repression of protesters in European capitals before and during the pandemic, in really different conditions,” the foreign minister replied to the Efe correspondent, who asked him if the suppression of the Internet was will of the Cuban Government.
Three days after the protest the island continues almost incommunicado, something that affects accredited journalists themselves, as they revealed at the press conference.
On Monday, Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, urged the Cuban authorities to “allow” peaceful protest demonstrations and to “listen” to the participants.
“It is not in Cuba where there has been a repression like the one that has occurred in some European countries,” the minister added, saying that “some police arrest action may have been seen.”
According to the Chancellor, “it is true that (on Sunday) there have been limited violations of order and law, in which the application of the law and the forces of order have been used with absolute moderation.”
Cuba’s diplomatic head also affirmed that during the demonstrations and riots that during in Washington last January, “around 400 journalists were badly treated.”
During the protests on Sunday, photojournalist Ramón Espinosa, from the Associated Press agency, was injured by blows from Cuban police that fractured his nose and caused other injuries.
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel has also denied that there was police repression in the protests, which contrasts with videos disseminated on the networks in which violent repression is observed on the part of police officers and plainclothes agents, and also with statements by witnesses and facts reported by independent and foreign media that covered the events.
For the first time, this Tuesday, the Government admitted one dead, a man who died on Monday during a confrontation between protesters and security forces in La Güinera — a marginal neighborhood of Havana — which also left several injuries between civilians and agents.
The authorities have not yet released the official number of detainees or investigated, which civic associations put at around 5,000.
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