14ymedio, Havana, 31 March 2021 — Just over 10 years ago, on 17 December 2010, in a town in Tunisia, Mohamed Bouazizi, a young street vendor, died by setting fire to himself after the police confiscated his fruit stand. Two days ago, on March 29, in the town of Guaro, in the Holguin municipality of Mayarí, another pushcart vendor, Jorge Cachón Martínez, hanged himself after the authorities fined him 5,000 pesos and seized the bananas he sold on the street.
The activist Teresa Miranda denounced on her social networks the suicide of Cachón Martínez, only 25 years old. The publication was shared by several Internet users who criticized the way in which the Government attacks pushcart and street vendors.
According to the testimony published by Miranda, the young man, who was “orphaned of his mother and father,” was fined for selling food on the street. Cachón Martínez did not have a license to market agricultural products on an itinerant basis, and in addition to the fine, some bananas were seized from him.
“Here many people are regretting what has happened, and of course, everyone agrees that what they did to him was an abuse,” Miranda told 14ymedio from Guaro. “They found him hanged on Monday and immediately buried him under the pretext of Covid,” he said.
Two independent farmers’ organizations also denounced the suicide, the League of Independent Farmers and the Cuba section of the Latin American Federation of Rural Women (Flamur). “The anti-Cuban mafia that misgoverns the country has thrown tens of thousands of people into extreme poverty and misery, suddenly and dramatically devalued their purchasing power and has ignored their needs for medicine and food,” they said in a statement.
“It intends to economically corral, with exorbitant and repeated fines, any citizen who takes an initiative simply to save their loved ones from this national shipwreck. To top it all, the members of those few mafia families that have taken over the country make a public display of their lives of luxuries and waste,” added the organizations.
In their text, they argue that “the fines finance the repression” and pay the salaries “of the henchmen who impose them in an abusive and arbitrary manner.” The independent farmers demand that the suicide of Jorge Cachón Martínez, “who preferred to kill himself rather than humiliating himself or begging, must put an end to these abuses.”
“No one should pay one more single fine until they respect the people and lift the internal blockade! There are no jails for so many people,” they concluded.
At the beginning of March, several residents of the Luz neighborhood, in the same province of Holguín, prevented two inspectors from seizing several agricultural products sold by a vendor on a corner of Mario Pozo street, as could be seen in a footage released on social networks.
Two videos posted on Facebook record how neighbors banded together to prevent the seizure of the merchandise, which included several products missing in state markets. The inspectors, dressed in long-sleeved blue shirts, demanded the presence of the owner of the stand, but no one responded and they had to leave.
At the end of February in Caibarién, Villa Clara, a sweet seller staged a protest after being fined 2,000 pesos. The man climbed on the roof of his sales cart, in the middle of a public road, and around him dozens of people from the town gathered who showed their support for this self-employed vendor.
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