Cuban opposition group calls for more protests, denounces arrests

Archipelago says more than 100 people were detained on Monday as security forces prevented protesters from gathering.

Cuba protest
The Cuban government had denied permission for marches in Havana as well as other cities in Cuba [Mayela Lopez/Reuters]

A Cuban opposition group called on its supporters to continue demonstrating for 10 more days amid accusations that the government is detaining opposition figures and preventing others from leaving their homes.

The group Archipelago on Tuesday said it had planned a protest on Monday but was thwarted after security forces flooded the streets, detained opposition leaders and prevented people from gathering.

Archipelago, an online discussion forum with 35,000 members in Cuba and abroad, said more than 100 activists were detained during “the extreme militarisation of the streets”, according to an AFP report, citing a statement.

Archipelago added that they are calling on protesters to continue their struggle by dressing in white, carrying white roses, creating personal videos and banging pots and pans at night until November 27.

Cuban rights group Cubalex said more than 650 activists remain in prison [Luis Cortes/Reuters]

The move comes after earlier calls for protests went unheeded on Monday as some of the organisers complained that government supporters had surrounded their homes, preventing them from leaving, while others said they were warned by Cuban police that they would be arrested if they took to the streets.

On Tuesday, the United States said it “commends the courage and will of the Cuban people who stood in the face of government repression to make their voices heard”, according to a statement by State Department Spokesperson Ned Price.

“The Cuban regime again blocked the voices of the Cuban people rather than listen to them, forgoing opportunities for dialogue and positive change for the future of Cuba,” according to the statement.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused the Cuban government of “intimidation tactics” against protesters adding that the US “will continue to pursue measures that both support the Cuban people and promote accountability for the Cuban regime’s repression”.

The Cuban government says the demonstrations are part of a months-long US-led campaign to destabilise Cuba.

Government critics had hoped to repeat a showing equaling that of four months ago when the island witnessed the largest demonstrations against the Communist administration in recent history.

Protest organisers had also sought to hold a demonstration on the same day that Cuba reopened to international visitors after 20 months of restrictions due to the coronavirus, but some pandemic restrictions remain for outdoor activities.

At the point set for the rally in Havana on Monday, nobody showed up and the city’s streets appeared calm. Meanwhile, Cuban Americans in Miami held their own rallies to support the hoped-for protests in Cuba.

The Cuban government had denied permission for marches in Havana and other cities.

“Demonstrating is a civic right. Under the circumstances in which we are and with the tools we have, everyone has that right,” one organiser, filmmaker Raul Prado, told The Associated Press by telephone.

Prado said many people were “suffering the consequences” of publicly expressing a willingness to demonstrate. He said authorities cut off their internet service, police in uniform or in civilian clothes were stationed at homes and some government supporters chanted revolutionary slogans at them.

Monday’s march was called to demand the release of prisoners, especially those arrested during the July protests, as well as to call on the expansion of human rights and a national dialogue.

Though the streets were quiet, many young people turned to social media to post photos of themselves dressed in white.

The Cuban government says the demonstrations are part of a US-led campaign to destabilise Cuba. [Pablo Sanhueza/Reuters]

Entrepreneur Saily Gonzalez, a moderator of the Archipelago forum, uploaded a live broadcast showing her in white clothes while government supporters dressed in red chanted revolutionary slogans and insulted her.

During an internet broadcast, Cuban Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno Rodriguez mocked the protesters and opposition supporters in Washington, saying they were dressed up but had nowhere to go.

“There were those who artificially created other expectations outside Cuba that did not occur. They dressed for that party. Our party, Cuba’s party, is marvellous and will continue to be in the coming days until the end of the year and next year. Well, some of my colleagues in Washington seem to have stayed dressed up for a party of theirs that has not happened,” he said.

Meanwhile, Archipelago has vowed to continue its struggle to “free all political prisoners” and to defend freedom of speech and the right to assemble.

More than 650 people remain in prison, according to Cuban rights group Cubalex.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies