Since July 11, thousands of Cubans have taken to the streets across the country in landmark demonstrations protesting longstanding restrictions on rights, scarcity of food and medicines, and the government’s poor response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These are the largest protests in Cuba since the 1994 “Maleconazo” protests in Havana.
Many protesters chanted “Liberty!” or “Motherland and Life,” referencing a song performed by Cuban artists in Havana and Miami that repurposes the Cuban government’s old slogan, “motherland or death” (patria o muerte), and criticizes repression in the country. Some activists have been arbitrarily detained in recent months just for playing it.
President Miguel Díaz-Canel on Sunday urged government supporters and security forces to respond to the protests violently. “We call on all revolutionaries to go to the streets to defend the revolution,” he said. “The order to fight has been given.”
Several organizations reported countrywide internet outages that day, followed by erratic connectivity, including restrictions on social media and messaging platforms. Human Rights Watch has tried to contact journalists and rights activists in Cuba, but many have been unreachable. Others have only been able to talk via landlines or by circumventing internet restrictions.
Cuban rights groups report that over 500 people have been detained. The whereabouts of many remain unknown. Police and intelligence officers have also appeared at the homes of journalists and activists, ordering them to stay there.
Source : World Report 2021
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