Conflicts & War

One week after mass Cuba protests, streets heavily monitored

By Atahualpa Amerise

San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba, July 18 (EFE).- One week after the wave of large protests across Cuba, the police and the military are exhaustively monitoring the streets, especially in the city of San Antonio de los Baños, where the demonstrations began.

Access to this location – about 30 kilometers west of Havana – was mostly cut off or guarded by security agents Sunday.

Although the streets showed the usual flow of people, Efe was able to observe trucks full of soldiers and the central square had more than a dozen policemen, soldiers and agents of the department of state security, the intelligence and counterintelligence body of Cuba, labeled by opponents as the “Cuban Political Police.”

Uniformed and plain-clothes officers were also widely deployed in the neighboring town of Bauta, where there was “a policeman on every corner,” a woman who was there Sunday morning told Efe.

Internet access was cut off in San Antonio de los Baños and its surroundings, according to Efe, while across the rest of the island it is mostly restricted, although it worked occasionally on some mobile phones.

Neither the government nor the Cuban telecommunications monopoly (Etecsa) have explained why mobile data remains partially or totally down since last Sunday, when thousands of Cubans took to the streets to protest and where there were clashes, altercations and even looting in some localities.

They have also not reported when the service will be restored to normal functioning.

The tranquility in San Antonio de los Baños on Sunday contrasts with the previous, when thousands of people took to the streets to protest peacefully, and which then spread across the country.

The protesters rallied against the government, which they blame for the shortage of food, basic products and medicines, the proliferation of shops with exclusive payments in foreign currency, and power outages, as Cuba experiences a serious economic crisis and a surge in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks.

With restricted internet and a strong police presence, one of the few notable events that occurred this Sunday in Cuba was an act by government supporters in La Güinera, a neighborhood in the south of Havana where riots took place last Monday resulting in the only officially reported death.

Led by Gerardo Hernández, president of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR, the “eyes and ears” of the state in neighborhoods), Cuban authorities accompanied dozens of neighbors “in support of the Revolution, [President Miguel] Díaz-Canel and of the Party,” as the ex-spy tweeted.

On Saturday, the Cuban government was building muscle with a mass event attended by thousands of people (100,000 according to the authorities) in Havana to show their support for the leader, backed by Díaz-Canel’s predecessor Raúl Castro.

Meanwhile, organizations and family members denounced that there are still people detained in Cuban prisons for their participation in the protests, with lists ranging from more than 100 to thousands.

Some of those arrested were released throughout the week and it is unknown how many remain locked up, as the government has not provided data. EFE


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