Cuba Cracks Down on Protest Organizers Ahead of Planned March
By VOA News November 15, 2021
Cuban authorities are cracking down on activists who have called for a "Civic March for Change" Monday.
The Cuban government has warned the opposition that it will not tolerate what it calls "counterrevolutionary" and "terrorist" acts and said it believes the planned demonstration is part of a U.S. interventionist plan.
Ahead of the planned march Monday, The Washington Post reported that swarms of police in plain clothes encircled the homes of activists and independent journalists to prevent them from leaving.
Journalists said the government was trying to stop the protest from taking place by preventing the demonstration leaders and members of the press from going outside.
On Sunday, Cuban officials surrounded the home of Yunior Garcia Aguilera, a leader of Archipielago, the group that planned Monday's march.
Garcia was set to do a solo walk Sunday afternoon with a single white rose in support of people unable to participate Monday. But he was not able to execute his plan because his residence was surrounded by government agents.
Supporters of Cuba's opposition are staging protests around the world Monday in solidarity, including in Miami, home to a large Cuban population.
During a news conference in Miami on Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said, "We should all, as free people, want to see the day when we have a free Cuba."
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez has labeled Monday's planned protest in Cuba as a "destabilizing operation designed in Washington."
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday in a statement, "We call on the Cuban government to respect Cubans' rights, by allowing them to peacefully assemble and use their voices without fear of government reprisal or violence, and by keeping Internet and telecommunication lines open for the free exchange of information."
In July, Cuban police and military units were dispatched to crack down on a peaceful opposition demonstration. Thousands were arrested. Many are still facing charges.
Monday's march plans clash with celebrations that Cuban officials had planned. Several milestones will be marked Monday on the island, including the return of tourists, with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions that will also allow children to return to school.
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