This Thursday marks two years since the July 11 protests in Cuba, during which more than 1,800 people were detained. More than 700 Cubans are still imprisoned according to associations for the defense of human rights. RFI spoke to two figures in the revolts, from Cuba and from exile.
By Achim Lippold and Orlando Torricelli.
On July 11, 2021, thousands of Cuban men and women took to the streets, in various cities on the island, demanding a change in living conditions.
They protested against the shortage of food, personal hygiene items and medicines, against the lack of electricity and the measures to “control” the spread of Covid-19. Added all this to the historic restrictions on freedom of expression.
“It was the first spontaneous demonstration in Cuba, in this case against a regime,” recalls Manuel Cuesta Morúa, vice president of the Council for Democratic Transition.
“The 62-year-old regime had built a solid mesh of repression and containment over Cuban society. A number of events accumulated over all these years and that day they spontaneously exploded in a town on the outskirts of Havana. They spread like a spark throughout the country, ”he says.
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“People keep protesting”
But discontent continues, Hamlet Lavastida, a plastic artist who has taken refuge in Berlin, told RFI. “There have been several demonstrations after July 11,” he says. “There was one in 2022, due to the little attention the government gives to infrastructure when hurricanes and natural events occur. Demonstrations are constantly taking place due to lack of water. They are small demonstrations but they have a lot of impact on social networks and end up with many prison sentences for those who protest,” Lavastida details, recalling that the Cuban government approved a new Penal Code.
“The protest is scarce,” he stresses. “Despite that, people continue to protest little by little and it’s like a flame that stays alive.”
Despite numerous requests, the Cuban government refuses to allow international organizations and independent organizations to enter so that they can document the human rights situation.