Protests are allowed under the Cuban constitution. However, the government has vowed not to allow Monday’s planned protests – aimed at calling for greater political freedoms – claiming they are a pretext to stir up trouble on the island. run by the communists, and that they were secretly organized by Cuban exiles. and the United States.
The city of Havana saw a heavy police presence on Monday morning as authorities prepared to face potential protesters. In the end, however, the streets remained quiet – proof of the chilling impact of the government’s warnings.
According to Havana-based independent human rights group Cubalex, Cuban police arrested 11 people, while 50 others were “besieged” inside their homes to prevent any public gatherings.
On Monday, Cuban activist Saily Gonzalez Velazquez said in a video broadcast live on Facebook that government supporters blocked her home in Santa Clara to prevent her from attending protests.
“At 5:30 a.m., people were called to my neighborhood by the Cuban government. I know they were called by the Cuban government because of the signs they were carrying,” she told CNN, adding, “They play music. and when I. got out of my house, they started yelling at me and my family.”
The activist also alleges that people outside her home are threatening to kill her.
In the videos, a group of people can be seen outside her house holding signs and shouting, and chants of “traitor” can be heard from the crowd. The crowd could be seen holding placards that read “Nothing can defeat us” and “Fatherland or death”.
Cuban activist, columnist and Washington Post columnist Abraham Jimenez Enoa also tweeted Monday that he was “besieged by plainclothes police and agents.”
He tweeted, “Neighbors are telling me today’s activity is bigger than yesterday. I can’t see it from my balcony because there’s a tree blocking the view. I can only see your feet. Are they afraid the press will go out and tell the truth?”
According to Cubalex, among those arrested Monday were Cuban citizen Agustin Figueroa Galindo, who often writes for the opposition blog “Primavera Digital en Cuba,” and Berta Soler Fernández, leader of “Damas de Blanco,” an organization organization advocating the release of political prisoners on the island.
According to activist groups, Cuban officials have stepped in, fearing spontaneous island-wide protests that rocked Cuba in January and led to more than 1,000 arrests.
But on Monday afternoon, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla declared Cuba “peaceful” and that “outside of Cuba, they have created unmet expectations.”
Over the weekend, Cuban government supporters also cordoned off the apartment of activist and playwright Yunior Garcia Aguilera in Havana, in what appeared to be a move to stem the protests. Garcia Aguilera is the top-level organizer of the event.
A government supporter who lives in Garcia Aguilera’s neighborhood told CNN he was proud to have kept the activist in his home.
US officials have threatened more sanctions against Cuba if the protesters are arrested by police.