CubaBrief: Civic March for Change in Cuba on November 15th, the Castro regime’s response, and the opposition’s political jiu-jitsu

Archipielago, a collective of non-violent activists in Cuba that advocate for a plural Cuba, petitioned the government in different parts of the island beginning on September 21, 2021 to permit Civic March for Change “calling for civil liberties, including the right to peaceful protest and an amnesty for imprisoned government opponents” on November 20, 2021. The protest would have a three hour duration, and involve laying flowers at the base of statues of Jose Marti and Calixto Garcia in different parts of the country.

Screen Shot 2021-10-14 at 2.38.27 PM.png

Organizers referred to both the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and the 2019 Cuban Constitution in demonstrating their right to carry out this nonviolent action. The United Nations “recognizes the importance of the rights to peaceful assembly and association” under Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of which Cuba is a signatory, and the dictatorship’s own Constitution in Article 56 recognizes “the rights of assembly, demonstration, and association for legal and peaceful purposes are recognized by the State whenever they are exercised with respect to public order and in compliance with the precepts established by the law.” The dictatorship uses this language to justify its continuing presence on the UN Human Rights Council, and other international bodies, but in practice it is unwilling to respect these fundamental freedoms.

The Cuban regime on October 8, 2021 announced it would “conduct annual military exercises on Nov. 18-19, leading up to a day of civilian defense preparedness on Nov. 20.”

Protest organizers, recognizing that they did not want to carry out a peaceful march in a militarized environment, moved up the date from November 20th to November 15th, “and submitted a formal request addressed to Esteban Lazo, president of the National Assembly.”

Screen Shot 2021-10-14 at 2.38.32 PM.png

Letter dated September 20, 2021 requesting permission for November 20th march

The Castro regime responded on October 12 in a letter denying the request made by the civil society group Archipelago for the civil liberties protest in November. Havana claimed that “the protest was denied because it was an effort to overthrow the communist regime” and that they “have the open intention of changing the political system in Cuba.”

On the same day Archipiélago responded that “on November 15th our personal decision will be to march civilly and peacefully for our rights,” responding “to the Cuban Government’s decision to reject the Civil March for Change scheduled for that day, considering it ‘illegal’ and a ‘provocation for regime change’ on the island,” reported 14ymedio on October 12th. The Archipiélago collective called the dictatorship out on its social media platforms:

“The regime’s response demonstrates, once again, that rights do not exist within the Cuban State, that they are unwilling to respect even their own Constitution and violate the human rights of the Cuban people.”

The Cuban dictatorship is now recycling a video of Fidel Castro from the 1990s to attack playwright and actor Yunior García and other Archipelago organizers where the old tyrant argued “we are not going to give guarantees to the counterrevolution. What do they want, that we allow them to conspire openly, to openly betray the country, to play the game of the potential invaders of our country? We do not have to tolerate it, and we are not going to tolerate it.”

The Castro regime is expert in warfare, torture, and terrorism having carried out genocide in Ethiopia, purges in Angola, torturing Venezuelans, and training terrorists around the world for over half a century. It does not have the same expertise in shutting down nonviolent movements, and applying violent repression against nonviolent activists has repeatedly backfired.

Peaceful assembly and association are examples of exercising a nonviolent action. According to the Albert Einstein Institution “nonviolent action is a technique of sociopolitical action for applying power in a conflict without the use of physical violence.”

Dictators point to the Albert Einstein Institution, and the writings of Gene Sharp, and claim that non-violent action automatically equates to regime change, but that is not true. It is the exercise of power, but to what end depends on those exercising it.

Screen Shot 2021-10-14 at 2.38.39 PM.png

Rosa María Payá, from CubaDecide advocates for sanctions on Castro regime in Europe

However, in targeting and demonizing peaceful protesters, while imprisoning hundreds for peacefully protesting in July 2021, does call on civil society abroad, and the international community more broadly to hold the dictatorship accountable. Opposition movements that seek a democratic transition are calling for concrete, and nonviolent measures, such as those outlined by the Christian Liberation Movement to pressure the Castro regime to change. The Center for a Free Cuba has set up a site for naming and shaming regime oppressors, and requested that Magnitsky sanctions be applied against Miguel Diaz-Canel. Rosa María Payá, from CubaDecide participated in a press conference with European Parliament Members on October 12, 2021 where she called for the European Union to: 1. Suspend the agreement that gives money to the regime; 2. Punish repressors; and 3. Cooperate directly with Cuban civil society.

This is what nonviolent theorist Gene Sharp called political jiu-jitsu. Here is how he defined it in his 2013 book How Non-violent Struggle Works that is available online.

“Political jiu-jitsu is a process by which non- violent action deals with violent repression. Nonviolent discipline combined with persistence against violent repression causes the adversaries’ repression to be exposed in the worst possible light. This, in turn, may lead to shifts in opinion and then to shifts in power relationships favorable to the nonviolent group.”

This is being done by different groups of activists independently, and not in a coordinated fashion, but the overall nonviolent strategic approach remains a challenge to the dictatorship. Non-violent activists will have to improve their tactics and strategies because although the regime is not as expert in non-violence as violence, it does study these tactics and seek options to neutralize them. They just have a much easier time dealing with violent opponents.

Havana Times, October 11, 2021

The Change from November 20 to the 15th

Screen Shot 2021-10-14 at 2.38.44 PM.png

Por Xel2 (El Toque)

HAVANA TIMES – This week we have drawn on the new call for peaceful marches on November 15, originally set for the 20th. The date was changed after the Cuban government suddenly announced military exercises starting the 18th and declared November 20 National Defense Day.

The formal requests for the November 20 march, protected by Article 56 of the Constitution, were presented in eight provinces and in different localities throughout the country.

Among the motivations for this demonstration are the demand for the release of political prisoners and to denounce the repression unleashed on July 11th by the authorities.

The threats against some of the people who signed the requests or those who have delivered them to the authorities show the arbitrariness of those in charge of enforcing the law. There actions jeopardize the rule of law with which many proclaim exists in Cuba.

We are waiting to see how the matter will evolve and what new move the Government will make to prevent a legitimate citizen right.

Wimar Verdecia Fuentes

Screen Shot 2021-10-14 at 2.38.51 PM.png

Tips for those who want to carry out a peaceful protest.

1) Follow all the established health regulations for Covid-19 prevention. Take several masks in case you get sprayed with tear gas.

2) Take you identification, telephone fully charged, some money and emergency contact information.

3) Take a small backpack with water, some peanuts or quick energy food. Don’t take any personal items nor any sharp item.

4) Wear comfortable clothing.

5) Appropriate shoes.

6) Report about the protest, tell a friend or relative about it. Don’t go alone, if you get separated from the person you are with, have a meeting place established.

https://havanatimes.org/opinion/the-change-from-november-20-to-the-15th/

Havana Times, October 8, 2021

Civic Marches in Cuba Moved Up to November 15th

HAVANA TIMES – After the government suddenly announced military exercises for November 18, 19 and 20, Archipelago, the group that has promoted the civic marches scheduled for November 20, advanced the date to the 15th.

This Thursday the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces announced that President Miguel Díaz-Canel declared November 20th National Defense Day, coinciding with the day on which the marches against violence were already planned. The civic actions will also call for the release of political prisoners.

For this reason, the group changed the date and submitted a formal request addressed to Esteban Lazo, president of the National Assembly.

On the 15th, the country is also scheduled to open to tourism and the restoration of normalcy after almost two years of pandemic.

The requests to march began on September 21 in Havana. They then extended to Pinar del Río, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, Nuevitas (Camagüey), Las Tunas, Holguín and Guantánamo; the Santiago de Cuba authorities have prevented the activists there from submitting the applications.

https://havanatimes.org/news/civic-marches-in-cuba-moved-up-to-november-15th/

The Hill, October 12, 2021

Cuban government denies request for civil liberties protest

By Lexi Lonas – 10/12/21 05:21 PM EDT

The Cuban government has denied a request for a civil liberties protest on Tuesday.

The protesters, involved in a Facebook group called Archipelago, said the event would have been a peaceful march in support of civil liberties in the country, Reuters reported

The group received a letter from the government saying the protest was denied because it was an effort to overthrow the communist regime. 

“The protesters … as well as their links with some subversive organizations … have the open intention of changing the political system in Cuba,” the letter stated.

“The protests are a provocation and part of a regime change strategy for Cuba tested in other countries,” the government added. 

The denial of the protest comes after the country saw some of its largest demonstrations against the country’s communist government this past summer, leading to hundreds of arrests. 

Archipelago organizers say they are still figuring out their next step after the protest was denied. 

“This response shows the most conservative and hard line have power in Cuba,” protest leader Yunior García told Reuters.

Cuba has been cracking down on opposition online as well, with new social media laws implemented in August banning critical posts of the government.

https://thehill.com/latino/576424-cuban-government-denies-request-for-civil-liberties-protest?rl=1

14ymedio, October 12, 2021

Cuba: On 15 November ‘We Will March Civilly and Peacefully for Our Rights,’ Responds Archipielago

14ymedio, Translator: Silvia Suárez

14ymedio, Havana, October 12, 2021–“On November 15th our personal decision will be to march civilly and peacefully for our rights,” responded Archipiélago to the Cuban Government’s decision to reject the Civil March for Change scheduled for that day, considering it “illegal” and a “provocation for regime change” on the island.

“The regime’s response demonstrates, once again, that rights do not exist within the Cuban State, that they are unwilling to respect even their own Constitution and violate the human rights of the Cuban people,” adds the collective in a message published this Tuesday on its social media platforms.

Members of Archipiélago also insisted that the authorities’ decision “has ridiculed their own president of the Supreme Tribunal, who said that Cuba would respect the right to demonstrate,” for which they classified the government response as a “crime” and branded it “full of falsehoods, defamation, and lies”.

Through the municipal assemblies of the cities that were notified in writing of the march by members of Archipiélago, officials announced this Tuesday their response to the demonstrations.

In the document, the regime confirmed that it does not recognize the “legitimacy of the reasons given” for the peaceful protests. Furthermore, they repeated the standard argument of the foreign “enemy” by stating that the organizers of the march maintain “ties” with subversive organizations or agencies that are financed by the United States Government, and “have the stated intention to promote a change to the political system in Cuba”.

Upon learning of the Government’s position, Observatorio Cubano de Derechos Humanos (OCDH) condemned the prohibition of the marches and “reclaimed the right of Cubans to demonstrate”.

“The official argument itself makes clear the antidemocratic nature of the current system in Cuba and that the ink is still wet on the Republic’s new Constitution, created without endorsing fundamental rights and the few it confers are denied arbitrarily by executive powers,” stated the organization in a communication disseminated this Tuesday.

OCDH called on the European Union, “to condemn this clear violation of human rights in Cuba, which are incompatible with the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement between Cuba and the European Union.”

In the document, OCDH also demands that the Government of the Island accept, “the challenge of listening to its citizens.”

“It did not do so on July 11th, when the president called for combat and confrontation among Cubans, and it is not doing so now as it prohibits the civil march scheduled for November 15th.”

Translated by: Silvia Suárez

https://translatingcuba.com/cuba-on-15-november-we-will-march-civilly-and-peacefully-for-our-rights-responds-archipielago/


South Florida Sun-Sentinel, October 14, 2021

Cuban authorities recycle video of Fidel Castro to attack organizers of opposition march

By Nora Gamaz Torres

The Miami Herald

The playwright and actor Yunior García was received with an act of repudiation at the headquarters of the Municipal Assembly in Old Havana on Tuesday morning. Local authorities notified him that the November march being promoted by him and other members of the group Archipiélago is illegal. (Ramon Espinosa/AP)

The Cuban government is using a 30-year-old video of Fidel Castro to attack a group of activists who have called for a peaceful march in November in solidarity with political prisoners, a gesture authorities have called a provocation orchestrated by the United States to destabilize the country.

After notifying its organizers on Tuesday that the motives for the march were “illegal,” the island’s government has launched a propaganda campaign on state news outlets and social media to portray the activists as agents in the service of the U.S.

“We are not going to give guarantees to the counterrevolution. What do they want, that we allow them to conspire openly, to openly betray the country, to play the game of the potential invaders of our country? We do not have to tolerate it, and we are not going to tolerate it,” said the late Cuban leader in a 1990s video that was broadcast on state television on Tuesday. The show where the video was shown targeted the playwright and actor Yunior García, one of the leading voices behind the peaceful march.

Read more at Miami Herald.

https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/nationworld/fl-ne-cuba-fidel-castro-opposition-20211014-3btyrzqfszcejdz3cuqzq4kabm-story.html

Babalu Blog, October 13, 2021

European Parliament receives petition to sanction Cuban dictatorship, deprive it of financial aid

October 13, 2021 by Carlos Eire

Screen Shot 2021-10-14 at 2.39.13 PM.png

Rosa María Payá, Hermann Tertsch, Leopoldo López Gil, and José Ramón Bauzá

From our Bureau of Gallant Quixotic Gestures

Let’s see how far this petition gets before it is shredded and shoved aside by leftists in the European Parliament

Loosely translated from Diario de Cuba

Three members of the European Parliament asked the European Union on Tuesday to review their relations with the Government of Cuba after the authorities denied the legitimacy of the Civic March for Change, called for next November 15. Members of the European Parliament Hermann Tertsch (VOX), Leopoldo López Gil (Popular Party) and José Ramón Bauzá (Citizens) updated the Joint Declaration on Freedom and Democracy in Cuba after the regime’s denial of the right to demonstrate.

The NGOs Amnesty International and Human Right Watch also condemned the violation of human rights in Cuba on Tuesday.

Together with the Cuban activist Rosa María Payá, from CubaDecide, the MEPs asked the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, “to strongly condemn the incessant repression by the Cuban authorities and to offer through the Delegation of the European Union in Cuba all possible assistance to people persecuted by the regime. “

The signatories asked the community bloc “to convene an urgent meeting with the Cuban authorities so that, in light of the systematic violation of the obligations and commitments agreed in the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Cuba, the The EU immediately applies the suspension mechanism provided for in the Agreement “.

The document recalled that Article 85, section 3, letter b of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Cuba establishes the suspension clause of that agreement “due to the repeated and systematic violation of human rights, and to convene with a meeting of the Joint Committee immediately in view of the violations by the Cuban Government of the essential elements of the agreement: not respecting democratic principles, human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. “

The statement also called for “to immediately cease financial aid from the EU to Cuba that may land in the hands of the Cuban regime, which has been systematically provided despite serious past and present violations of human rights, and the foregoing , taking special care not to harm the Cuban people. “

The signatories asked the EU to “adopt sanctions against the persons and entities responsible for human rights violations in Cuba,” as well as “to immediately remedy the situation in which civil society is excluded from access to cooperation funds from participation in the agreement, while, on the other hand, participation and access to said funds are allowed exclusively for companies in which the State participates or controls “.

continue reading HERE in Spanish

https://babalublog.com/2021/10/13/european-parliament-receives-petition-to-tighten-sanctions-against-cuban-dictatorship-cease-all-financial-aid/