Protesters shout anti-government slogans at the July 11 protest in Havana.Alexandre Meneghini (Reuters)
Three days before November 15, the date of the convocation of the Civic March for Change promoted by the Archipelago platform, the tension continues to increase in Cuba and what will happen that day is unknown. The change in strategy of the main leader of that platform, Yunior García, who announced his decision to march alone on Sunday on behalf of all the protesters to prevent violence from taking place, opens an unforeseen scenario, while members of that group in various The provinces insist that they will take to the streets on 15-N, although changing the initial proposal to parade on a defined route. Whether or not there will be marches and what their support will be is difficult to know when international pressure grows and more and more actors appear on the scene. On Thursday, the Cuban Conference of Catholic Bishops (COCC) issued a statement expressing concern about the “climate of tension and confrontation” in the country.
The bishops asked the authorities to implement “necessary changes” to improve the lives of Cubans, “a gesture of indulgence” towards the people who are still imprisoned for the July 11 protests, and “implement mechanisms where, without fear of intimidation and retaliation, everyone can be heard and dissatisfactions are channeled in the face of the harsh daily realities that overwhelm so many, especially the most impoverished and vulnerable ”. The document does not explicitly mention the 15-N march, declared illegal by the authorities, but indicates that “every Cuban should be able to express and share freely and with respect, their personal opinions, their thoughts or their convictions, even when they disagree with the majority. ”.
“Any act of violence,” says the Catholic Church, “whether physical, verbal or psychological, seriously wounds the soul of the Cuban nation and contributes even more to the sorrow, suffering and sadness of our families.” The COCC exhorts “everyone” to spare no effort “so that the paths of understanding, reconciliation and peace are paved, in such a way that the various proposals on the present and future destiny of our country find an area of sanity, tolerance and harmony, and a harmonious and civilized dialogue be established in which the best solutions to problems can be found ”.
The bishops’ call quickly spread on Facebook and social networks, without which it is impossible to understand what is happening in Cuba, and where positions are radicalized as the date of 15-N approaches. From sectors close to the government, there were those who accused the bishops of not including a single paragraph in their statement on the US embargo, the ills it generates for Cubans and the need for Washington to lift it. From opposition positions, some found the statement too tepid and would have preferred a stark complaint.
Another example of current polarization: in Second date, the blog of singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez, someone recently called for a strong hand against those who intend to march on the 15th. “I think we don’t have to protect anyone. They don’t say that this is a dictatorship? … So they go out to the streets to fight like the revolutionaries did when Batista, so their Yankee masters will be happier and will pay them more, “wrote the Internet user. Before the comment, the artist intervened: “I do not agree to incite dissenting young people to immolate themselves, less after a manifest peaceful will. What is the point of inciting them to such a sacrifice? … let’s distance ourselves from everything inhuman. “
With the atmosphere heated and with the government entrenched in its decision not to allow the march in any way because it considers it a US maneuver, Yunior García announced on Thursday that he will parade alone on the 14th. Havana, asked those who take to the streets that day to avoid “any type of violent confrontation, any action that generates repression, any act that places them in a situation of danger” and also “to find ingenious ways to express themselves without giving rise to violence is unleashed against it ”.
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García’s movement was observed with suspicion by the most radical sectors, who saw in it a “cession” under pressure from the Government. But many, inside and outside the Archipelago, came out to defend him and remembered what the activist said in his statement: “Our goal is to end violence, not multiply it. Our purpose is to release political prisoners, not to increase the lists of detainees. Our goal is to find a civic path to achieve rights and build a new social pact, we are not interested in reproducing barbarism at all ”.
Can Yunior García parade alone next Sunday? What will happen on the 15th, when the Archipelago has asked those who support them to go out into the streets dressed in white, without following a specific route, and lay flowers where there are statues or monuments to the country’s heroes? In the midst of the “climate of tension and confrontation” mentioned by the bishops, these questions are floating on social networks today. And everyone watches.
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