Cuba is cracking down on critics. Yunior Garcia Aguilera says he’ll protest anyway

However Cuban officers are more and more taking goal at Yunior Garcia Aguilera and his proposal to carry a peaceable political march later this month — for which the state has already denied permission.

“Cubans have spent an excessive amount of time in silence,” Garcia Aguilera mentioned throughout an interview in his cramped house within the downtrodden San Agustín neighborhood of Havana. “It is time to open our mouths with liberty and say what we predict.”

Garcia Aguilera is just not the standard anti-government Cuban dissident. He has labored for years in state-run theater and tv productions, is crucial of the US embargo on the island and says he’s extra liberal than Cuba’s “conservative” management. Cuban state-run media this week in contrast him to famend Czech playwright and human rights advocate Vaclav Havel, though the outline was not meant as a praise.

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His deliberate march is meant to name for democratic reforms to the Caribbean nation’s political system, in addition to the discharge of political prisoners. In response, the Cuban state has focused him with an onslaught of accusations.

Cuban state TV has broadcast recording of Garcia Aguilera’s private cellphone calls, and aired packages alleging murky ties between the playwright and darkish forces allegedly bent on toppling Cuba’s greater than six-decade-old revolution.

In a single cellphone name, Garcia Aguilera could be heard having a perfunctory dialog with a well known anti-Castro Cuban exile Ramon Saul Sanchez, who presents Garcia Aguilera his help. Cuban authorities officers handled the decision as damning proof that the playwright has been in contact with Cuban exiles in Florida, whom the federal government accuses of plotting terrorist assaults on the island.

And in a video that aired Monday on the Cuba’s Causes tv program, an area physician named Carlos Leonardo Vázquez González confirmed pictures of a convention that he mentioned he attended with Garcia Aguilera and different Cuban authorities critics in Madrid in 2019.

Garcia Aguilera at his home in Havana.

Vázquez González additionally mentioned in this system that he was really a double agent, reporting again to Cuban state safety on Garcia Aguilera.

“What we’re seeing in Yunior is the creation and efficiency of a counterrevolutionary,” Vázquez González mentioned.

Garcia Aguilera confirmed the authenticity of the cellphone name and the convention however mentioned they had been misrepresented on TV. He denies receiving any funding from overseas governments or exile teams, and insists that he’s pushing for democratic change from inside Cuba utilizing authorized avenues.

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In help of his plan to protest, Garcia Aguilera fashioned a bunch known as Archipelago, which has over 31,000 followers on Fb. Group members say they too are harassed for his or her activism, and complain of being adopted by plainclothes state safety brokers and receiving threats by authorities officers.

Members additionally accuse Cuba’s state telecom supplier of stopping Cubans from texting the phrase archipelago in Spanish or the date of their deliberate protest — a long-established censorship tactic on the island. CNN has independently confirmed the messaging block.

In October, Garcia Aguilera posted footage on social media of the carcass and blood and feathers of a lifeless chicken that had been unfold throughout the doorway to his house in the course of the night time — a gory scene that he understood as a warning to halt his activism.

He blamed the federal government for the vandalism, saying that police monitoring his home would have been conscious of who was accountable. Cuban officers haven’t responded to his allegations of harassment.

On Monday, Garcia Aguilera’s spouse additionally filmed neighbors finishing up a nighttime “acto de repudio” or “act of repudiation” — chanting authorities slogans on the couple’s doorstep and “warning” him to cease his activism.

Nonetheless, Garcia Aguilera and a handful of different protest organizers say they’re intent on shifting ahead with their deliberate march. They are saying they need peaceable protesters arrested after demonstrations on July 11 to be launched, extra ensures for particular person freedoms and a lifting of official censorship.

View of empty streets in Havana, on September 1, 2020.

A harmful time to protest

Talking out in opposition to the island’s communist-run authorities carries even higher dangers than standard, after the state was rattled by widespread protests in July, elevated US financial sanctions and the implosion of their tourism business during the pandemic.

In line with the Cubalex group that displays authorized points on the island, not less than 1,175 Cubans had been arrested following the July 11 protests when scores of individuals took to the streets to demand higher freedoms and financial situations — the most important demonstration to happen in Cuba because the 1959 revolution.

Whereas authorities officers mentioned they focused protestors who attacked police and looted shops, dozens of individuals mentioned they had been violently arrested for marching peacefully or merely filming the protests.

Cubans march in front of Havana's Capitol during a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana, on July 11, 2021.

Authorities officers insist that the island’s structure grants Cubans the proper to protest, however in apply, demonstrations are shortly damaged up by police and authorities critics are accused of being “mercenaries” within the make use of of Cuba’s Chilly Struggle nemesis, america.

“Having totally different opinions, together with political ones, would not represent against the law,” mentioned Rubén Remigio Ferro, the president of the Supreme Folks’s Court docket of Cuba, at a press convention in July shortly after the protests. “Pondering in a different way, questioning what is going on on, to reveal is just not against the law.”

These feedback indicating a gap for some dissent are what impressed Garcia Aguilera and different members of the Archipelago group to use to carry peaceable marches in numerous cities throughout the island, the playwright instructed CNN.

The Cuban authorities nevertheless has described the deliberate marches as a pretext invented by Cuban exiles and the US authorities that will result in an invasion of Cuba “by the enemy.” It has introduced island-wide navy workout routines for a similar day.

“[The protest] promoters, their public projections and ties with subversive organizations or companies financed by the US authorities have the open intention of adjusting the political system in our nation,” Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel mentioned at a speech earlier than the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Social gathering in October.

Already Cuba’s state-run run media has broadcast photos of militias coaching with AK-47’s and members of “Committee’s for the Protection of the Revolution” patrolling streets with metallic batons.

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Garcia Aguilera has since moved the proposed march from November 20 to November 15, though the Cuban authorities is unlikely to permit protestors to participate whatever the date. He mentioned the federal government’s overreaction to his proposed march has solely confirmed his level.

“They’ve proven there isn’t any rule of legislation,” he mentioned. “There is no chance for residents to legally, peacefully and orderly present their dissent to these energy.”

With a lot pressure within the air, it is unclear what number of Cubans will be part of Garcia Aguilera’s name to protest however already the initiative threatens to additional deteriorate frayed US and Cuban relations.

“The Cuban regime is failing to satisfy the individuals’s most simple wants. That features meals. That features medication. Now’s an opportunity to take heed to the Cuban individuals and to make a optimistic change,” State Division spokesman Ned Value mentioned In October.

The Biden administration has warned the Cuban authorities that if it prevents the march from taking happen, the island may face additional financial sanctions.

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