19 December 2021 ~ 1 Comentario

How the July 11 protest in Cuba was organized

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

The July 11 protests reflect the misery in which Cubans live. And it was not even a particular region of the island. As Carla Gloria Colomé Santiago explains, in a sensational article published in El Estornudo, the protests occurred in 62 different places, although they arose in San Antonio de los Baños, a town located a few kilometers from Havana.

The article won by unanimous vote the “First Young Journalism International Prize” (Carla Gloria is 30 years old), awarded by the “Cátedra Vargas Llosa y la Fundación Internacional por la Libertad” (“Vargas Llosa Chair and the International Foundation for Freedom). It describes how the protests in Cuba escalated and their relationship with the increasing use of the Internet. One of the finalist articles (Protestas en Cuba: las cosas por su nombreProtests in Cuba: to call a spade a spade, by Carlos Manuel Álvarez). CMA is director of El Estornudo and Carla Gloria’s partner.

It all began when the residents of San Antonio de los Baños created a Facebook page called “La Villa del Humor” (The Village of Humor) to meet those who still remained in Cuba and those who had been able to take refuge abroad. “The group,” says Carla Gloria, “has served for everything: to share nostalgic memories (…) or to announce the theft of an electric motorcycle.”

However, in 2017 (the same year that the eradication of that bug was notified in Florida), it was announced that the plague of the “giant African snail” was growing in the municipality, and that it could cause meningitis in adults, although in children it was potentially lethal. While that misfortune was occurring, several common crops in San Antonio de los Baños had already disappeared. The complaint was published, but no one commented on it.

Two years later, in 2019, the plague increased in size, so “Danilo Roque” (the pseudonym of an administrator of the page) exhorted the people to demand the Communist Party to take action on the matter. There is no evidence that anyone has dared to demand such a thing from the Communist Party. There was still great fear of the only ideological institution allowed on the Island.

In January 2020, a group of audacious Cubans “desecrated” several busts of José Martí (a 19th century Cuban liberal who fought for independence and who performed the feat of creating the “Cuban Revolutionary Party,” in which the rebels from previous wars joined the “new pines”, as the new generation of fighters was called, for the final attempt against Spain). In addition to the dubious attack on Martí, murals dedicated to Fidel Castro “intervened.”

They called themselves “Clandestinos” (Clandestine) after the very popular film by the excellent actors Luis Alberto García and Isabel Santos, and they wore masks similar to those that were popularized in the hit series “La casa de papel” (known as Money Heist in English) broadcast by Netflix. (It was a caricature by Salvador Dalí reproduced industrially). “La Villa del Humor” supported the subversive acts of this group, but they never managed to bring together a group of Cubans who dared to demonstrate aloud. There was too much fear.

Another fictitious name was added to the administrators of “La Villa del Humor,” that of a young man who called himself “Lázaro González” and would be in charge of the posters. But the general coordination was still in the hands of Danilo Roque, although with the assistance of Alexander Pérez Rodríguez, pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. APR provides his name and photo. State Security has known him (and hates him) since he was with Oswaldo Payá, but they cannot do anything against him, because he has been in Miami for several weeks after going into exile in Mexico.

Carla Gloria assures, “Although the idea came from Danilo Roque, these three people are mainly those who were behind the protests in San Antonio de los Baños, [although] 23 people make up the team, who remain completely anonymous and whose ages, except for Alexander, range from 18 to 30 years old.”

“On Saturday July 10 (…),” said Carla Gloria, “Danilo Roque wrote in La Villa del Humor: ‘Tired of not having electricity? Fed up because they haven’t let you sleep for three days? Tired of putting up with the insolence of a government that doesn’t care about you? It’s time to go out and demand. Don’t criticize from home, let’s make ourselves heard. If we’re not going to do it, we better shut up and not talk bull… from home; it doesn’t solve anything. We need to go out to the street.”

Danilo Roque continued asking, “Are we more afraid to go out than to put up with all this insolence? How is it possible? We demand that Canel and Raúl also have blackouts. We demand that, since we have no food, they at least let us sleep. To the street. Get out of the government now, you opportunistic communists. This Sunday 11 in the morning. Church Park. If you don’t go, then don’t complain so much.”

Carla Gloria’s article ends with a few words from Danilo Roque reproduced on Facebook: “How nice it would sound: San Antonio de los Baños, the first free municipality in Cuba. Yes, we can, f…, yes we can.”

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