Cubans seek detainees and return of internet in wake of protests
By Lorena Cantó
Havana, Jul 14 (EFE).- Three days after protests erupted across Cuba, the government has maintained heavy police deployment in the streets of the island, where there have been no new verifiable demonstrations and citizens seek detained relatives while trying to evade the internet blackout.
The real numbers of detainees remained unknown Wednesday, since the authorities have not offered official data, while international organizations, activists and lists circulating on social networks report hundreds.
Faced with calls from the international community to release the detainees, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel said on state television that those arrested will have procedural judicial guarantees and laws will be applied without abuse.
The president said that in the demonstrations, “acts that violate the Constitution” were committed, and justified the police action.
“Without a response from the forces of order, violence would have prevailed,” he said.
The actions of the security forces and vigilante brigades against the protesters in the events that shook the country have been condemned and described as excessive by human rights organizations and by some governments and foreign political parties, in addition to hundreds of Cubans across social media.
Without any new verifiable protests, attention Wednesday focused on the mobile internet data blackout, in force since Sunday.
The service was disabled when protests spread throughout the country, encouraged by residents of San Antonio de los Baños (30 kilometers east of Havana) who took to the streets to protest the lack of food and medicines and power outages, in the midst of a serious economic and health crises.
Experts believe that the government has cut the internet to prevent this from happening again, although they also consider that the measure could be counterproductive by increasing the population’s discontent with the authorities.
During the day, connection returned intermittently for some users but was still very unstable for most. Some young people resorted to VPNs to regain access.
The protests, the largest since August 1994, occurred with the country plunged into serious economic and health crises and shortages of essential goods.
Three days after Cubans took to the streets, the government lifted the limits and tariffs to bring food, cleaning products and medicines to the island, a measure that will be in force until the end of the year.
Travelers arriving in Cuba by air will be able to bring an unlimited amount of these basic commodities. EFE