The Cuban government on Tuesday rejected a request by opposition groups to hold a protest on November 15. Officials accused organizers of being backed by the US and of seeking to overthrow the regime.
The planned protests are the latest sign of discontent on the island, which has been going through a major economic crisis, fueled by high inflation, power cuts and shortages of food and medicine.
“The promoters and their public representatives, some of whom have links with subversive organizations or agencies financed by the American government, have the clear intention of promoting a change in Cuba’s political system,” the government in a statement on the official Cubadebate website.
The opposition group Archipelago, which claims to have some 20,000 members, planned a rally in support of civil liberties on the island, including the right to peaceful protest and amnesty for imprisoned government opponents.
The group had originally called for a protest on November 20, but, after the government scheduled military exercises around that date, organizers moved it to five days earlier.
But November 15 is also the day that the government had planned to reopen Cuba to tourism, after two years in which the critical industry was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The reasons given to protest are not considered legitimate,” the government said in its statement, adding that the new constitution adopted in 2019 states that the socialist system is “irrevocable.”
The new call for demonstrations comes after unprecedented spontaneous anti-government protests swept the country on July 11 in some 50 cities.
A clampdown ensued, leaving one dead, dozens injured and more than 1,000 people detained, several hundred of whom are still behind bars.
Film director and protest organizer Yunior Garcia lashed out at the government’s reasons for not allowing the demonstration.
“Whatever the Cuban does, they always say the idea came from Washington. It’s as if we don’t think, as if us Cubans don’t have any brains,” Garcia said.
He told EFE news agency that the various opposition groups will now engage in a dialogue over whether to defy the protest ban and would make a decision in the coming days.
jcg/wd (EFE, AFP)