CubaBrief: Castro, Diaz-Canel & history’s imponderables. Perspectives on the nonviolent struggle for Cuba’s freedom. South African students in Cuba protest conditions

#15N post mortem

Voices are criticizing the effectiveness of non-violence, but fail to take into account that Havana 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 six decades. It does not have the same expertise in shutting down nonviolent movements. Applying violent repression against nonviolent activists has cost the regime on the international stage, and led to Cubans in elite circles on the island criticizing, or breaking with the dictatorship.

Peaceful assembly and association as exemplified in the #15N civic march are nonviolent. 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,” but this also requires a strategic vision.

Two essays published in 14ymedio explore nonviolent action through a strategic prism.

Cuban political scientist and human rights activist Frank Calzon provides a grand strategic vision informed by historical patterns repeated in Africa, Europe, and Latin America.  “The regimes fell into the classic vicious circle: the peaceful opposition urged a dialogue demanding internationally recognized basic rights — freedom of expression, assembly and association — and the government responded with more abuse, beatings, rigged trials, violent arrests against protesters who were trying to exercise rights guaranteed by law, while the authorities violated their own constitutions. While the opposition presented a message of hope and tolerance for all, the authorities insisted on the continuity of an obviously failed system.”

Police surveillance at the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana, Cuba on November 12th

Former Cuban political prisoner, teacher and writer Ariel Hidalgo writing in 14ymedio analyzed why the #15N protests did not have the success of the #11J protests. When his daughter asked him prior to November 15th what would happen he “replied with a popular saying I had often heard in childhood: ‘Soldiers forewarned of an attack don’t get killed.’ The events of July 11 were a social eruption that took not only the government but most of its opponents by surprise. There was no need for a nationwide call to protest. It started in just one town and quickly spread throughout the country thanks to social media.” … “That is why, when the Cuban government alleged that the explosive protests were planned by the CIA and Cubans living in south Florida, I laughed.”  Hidalgo reasoned that an additional factor, beyond Havana having been forewarned, was that “the wounds from last July’s repression had not yet healed and numerous protesters remained in prison.

Timing, the element of surprise are but two of the many factors that need to be considered when plotting out strategy, and this involves learning from both past successes and failures.

With regards to timing and the past, The New York Times is at it again. They have published an important story on Yunior García, Hamlet Lavastida, and Mónica Baró, young Cuban dissidents pressured into exile by the Castro dictatorship, but within the article they blame the Trump administration for Havana’s economic failures and the pandemic later citing “hunger and blackouts” for the wave of protests that ignited on July 11th.

It’s not the U.S. embargo, but the Castro regime’s communist internal blockade that generates hunger in Cuba

Prior to 1959 Cubans produced enough food in Cuba to feed themselves, and still have plenty left over for export. It is communist central planning by the Castro regime that changed Cuba from a food exporter to a country today that imports 70 to 80% of its food. Much of it is from the United States.

Cuba’s communist dictatorship seized and collectivized properties, and prohibited farmers selling their crops to non-state entities, in the early years of the revolution. Farmers no longer decided how much to produce, or what price to sell. The Cuban government established production quotas and farmers were (and are) obligated to sell to the state collection agency, called Acopio. Most recent law on agriculture in Cuba ( Decreto Ley 358 de 2018) continues to prohibit private sales of agricultural products to non-state entities. The dictatorship began rationing food in 1962 as a method of control and continued the practice over the next six decades. Rationed food is not free, but sold at subsidized prices. Rationed items are not enough to feed a person.

Marc Frank of Reuters reported on August 10, 2010 that “in Cuba’s long-centralized agriculture system, farmers must produce certain crops or livestock to sell back to the state at fixed prices in exchange for state-assigned supplies.” In the same article he divulged how “farmers and consumers complain the cumbersome system sometimes results in rotting crops and farmers going without timely supplies of animal feed, pesticides and fertilizer.”

Rotting crops cannot be blamed on economic sanctions, but inefficient centralized communist agricultural practices that prohibit market mechanisms to increase efficiency and deliver more food to Cubans. Diario de Cuba (DDC) ( March 18, 2021) and 14ymedio (June 15, 2021) have reported on rotting food crops due to the failures of the state enterprise, Acopio in picking them up on time.

Laws on the books restrict fishing in Cuba by individuals using regulations that in practice are onerous and have prevented Cubans from fishing with heavy fines that if they cannot pay means prison. The most recent was enacted in 2019.  According to an August 27, 2019 Reuters article ” Cubans eat a quarter of the seafood they did at the end of the 1980s, according to official data, and just a fraction of the global average fish consumption per capita, leading them to joke bitterly about being an island without fish.”

The United States does not have a “blockade” on Cuba, but porous economic sanctions with a focus on cutting off funds to the military that controls most of the Cuban economy. Remittances continue to flood Cuba from the exile community in South Florida, but new restrictions imposed by the Castro regime on June 21, 2021 discouraged the use of dollars. What became vastly more difficult was sending food, and medicine but that was largely due to Havana restricting travel from the United States, Dominican Republic, Panama, Mexico and other locations beginning on January 1, 2021 while maintaining travel open for tourism and reopening to Russia, despite higher COVID-19 infection rates.

This is why Cubans shouted “down with the dictatorship” when they took to the streets on July 11th, and not “down with the blockade.”

Racism in Cuba.

Transatlantic Parliamentary Forum on November 20, 2021

Babalu Blog published Center for a Free Cuba’s executive director’s testimony at the Transatlantic Parliamentary Forum on November 20, 2021 that raised questions about racial bias in Cuba highlighting the “plight of political prisoners such as Virgilio Mantilla Arango, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, Maykel Castillo Pérez (Osorbo), and their health status. It is also no coincidence that all are Black Cubans. These and other cases raise questions on the racist nature of the Castro regime.” CFC’s representative cited statistics, and a history that revealed racial bias.

“Based on the Institute for Crime and Justice Policy Research, according to the January 13, 2020 article by EuropaPress, Cuba today has the largest per capita prison population in the world. Although official data is unavailable, it is known that a disproportionate number are Black Cubans.

On March 22, 1959 Fidel Castro declared that racism no longer existed in Cuba, to question that was to be a counter-revolutionary. The regime claimed over the next six decades that there is no racism in Cuba while poverty disproportionately impacts black Cubans with 95% having the lowest incomes compared to 58% of white Cubans, after six decades of communism, and independent black voices continue to be silenced.”

South African students protests being treated as “slaves”

Mail & Guardian reported on November 20, 2021 that “South African Air Force student pilots being trained in Cuba are allegedly being treated as ‘slaves’, with a compulsory period of lawn-mowing using machetes every morning after physical training.” Parents of the students who spoke to the newspaper said conditions their children were being “subjected to are nothing short of being locked up in a prison camp. Even their uniforms are similar to those worn by prison chain gangs during apartheid.”


Translating Cuba, November 22, 2021

The Imponderables of History, Fidel Castro and Diaz-Canel

The fall of the Castro regime has been announced since he proclaimed his Marxist-Leninist character and Díaz-Canel may have to bury him. (Escambray)

14ymedio, Frank Calzón, Miami, 18 November 2021 — The imponderables make historical predictions difficult, but from the moment, in April 1961, when Fidel Castro proclaimed the Marxist-Leninist character of his revolution, the collapse of the regime began. The collapse may still be delayed, but it is inevitable, as it was in racist South Africa, Pinochet’s Chile, and in the European communist regimes.

In all those countries, where fundamental human rights were denied for years, the levels of repression soared before citizen mobilizations that, without violence, demanded a national dialogue in search of solutions to the political, economic and ethical crisis that their nations were suffering.

The response of the authorities in those countries was to declare martial law, that is, take the troops to the streets, imprison many without presenting them in court, persecute national journalists and foreign correspondents, cut off communications, try to discredit opponent leaders, use blackmail and intimidation and blame foreign powers.

The result was that international human rights organizations, democratic governments, intellectuals, artists, union and religious leaders from around the world defended the activists and obtained restrictive measures against dictatorships. And, within those societies, disenchantment and opposition within the Armed Forces, the bureaucracy, the Party and the mass organizations grew.

The regimes fell into the classic vicious circle: the peaceful opposition urged a dialogue demanding internationally recognized basic rights — freedom of expression, assembly and association — and the government responded with more abuse, beatings, rigged trials, violent arrests against protesters who were trying to exercise rights guaranteed by law, while the authorities violated their own constitutions. While the opposition presented a message of hope and tolerance for all, the authorities insisted on the continuity of an obviously failed system.

The opposition responded against Pinochet in Chile with the No Campaign in the plebiscite; in Poland with the workers’ strikes and the sermons in the churches; in Prague with concerts, performances and banned songs at the Green Lantern; in Lithuania with the chain of thousands of people shaking hands from one end to the other of their small country, which had suffered the Nazi and Russian occupation.

The Polish general Wojciech Jaruzelski understood in time what was good for his country as well as for himself and his family. He sent to the prison for Lech Walesa, the leading electrician of the Polish workers, to talk and seek solutions. Some accused Walesa of treason for meeting with the tyrant.

Years later, Walesa himself told me in Warsaw that, when he arrived at the meeting, the dictator general asked him why he did not sit down. His response was that he could not hold a conversation until the political prisoners were released. That was the beginning, and when the dictator, believing his own propaganda, agreed to call elections, convinced that the opposition would get no more than 30% of the vote, the Polish people overwhelmingly chose the opposition. Later, Walesa became president and received the Nobel Prize. Poland won and Jaruzelski did too, as he remained in his country undisturbed; where he died years later.

In the case of South Africa, something very similar happened. Nelson Mandela, a Marxist and promoter of revolutionary violence, was serving a long sentence on Robben Island for his terrorist activities. When he opted for non-violent struggle (which Mahatma Ghandi had used to defeat the British Empire in India), the demonstrations in Soweto and international sanctions led South African President FW de Klerk, leader of the South African apartheid government, to give in, realizing that the situation was untenable.

South African leaders and their families were already outcasts who could not even travel to the world’s most important capitals, and the world’s leading artists boycotted the Pretoria regime.

Then, the two enemies met. The racist dictatorship ended with the repeal of the apartheid system. Multi-party elections were held. The world suspended sanctions against South Africa. The transition was not easy, and South African politics remain difficult. But de Klerk and Mandela made the change. Together they received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Mandela was elected president of South Africa in 1994. When he served his term, he retired and other younger politicians were elected to direct the destinies of the country. Mandela died at the age of 95 in South Africa, in 2013. De Klerk lived the rest of his days quietly in Pretoria and has just died (on November 11th) at the age of 85.

https://translatingcuba.com/the-imponderables-of-history-fidel-castro-and-diaz-canel/


Translating Cuba, November 21, 2021

Cuba: A Manual for a Successful Protest March

Police on alert at Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution on Thursday, November 12. (14ymedio)

14ymedio, Ariel Hidalgo, Miami, November 19, 2021 — If I had written this article before November 15, people would have been called me a pessimist, a harbinger of bad luck, a saboteur of protest marches, and in a way they would have been right. I would never collaborate with the oppressors but, in general terms, I knew how this was going to turn out.

Members of the online Archipelago group who called for the march were very brave, as were those who showed up to protest. But bravery alone does not win battles. You have to know when and how to retreat.

Some believe that the July 11 protests were unsuccessful because they did not immediately bring about the final victory over tyranny many were hoping for. They are, however, mistaken. The protests were, in fact, a great victory because they shook civil society — students, professionals, artists, clergymen, Masons, even many who had, until then, been staunch supporters of the status quo — out of its complacency.

With the ghost of Ceausescu haunting the halls of the Palace of the Revolution, the oppressors no longer dare to hold mass demonstrations, as they did in the past. When they did call for so-called “revolutionary reaffirmation” to deal with the protests, many of those who were summoned refused to show up. The glorious events of July 11 did represent a victory. However, no single battle wins a war.

News footage from November 15 showed the streets of the capital in a state of calm and the regime successfully managing to maintain control. This led some reporters, such as CNN’s Patrick Oppmann, to ask, “Why aren’t Cubans coming out to protest?” In contrast Euronews broadcast images not only of large-scale police deployments but of arrests of protestors shouting demands for freedom and democracy as well as arrests of well-known opposition figures such as Manuel Cuesta MoruaGuillermo Fariñas and Berta Soler.

To be fair, the qualified response I would give to Oppmann’s question would be the same as his: “This time the Cuban government had time to prepare.”

When my daughter called me from Ecuador several days earlier to ask what I thought would happen, I replied with a popular saying I had often heard in childhood: “Soldiers forewarned of an attack don’t get killed.” The events of July 11 were a social eruption that took not only the government but most of its opponents by surprise. There was no need for a nationwide call to protest. It started in just one town and quickly spread throughout the country thanks to social media.

Months before the July 11 protests, some Cuban exiles in Miami tried to convene something similar. I wrote in an article, “Social eruptions are not convened.” Nevertheless, it was clear to me that it would not take much to set one off. That is why, when the Cuban government alleged that the explosive protests were planned by the CIA and Cubans living in south Florida, I laughed.

But in the case of November 15, the fact that the results were not as hoped cannot be explained solely on the fact that the government had been forewarned. It was also because the planned protest was not well-timed. The wounds from last July’s repression had not yet healed and numerous protesters remained in prison.

This reminded me of the so-called Little War in the 19th century, which began very shortly after the Ten Years War. It took some time afterwards for Jose Marti, as head of the Cuban Revolutionary Party, to prepare for the final struggle that would lead to independence. The difference here, of course, is one of time. What took years to accomplish back then can now be achieved in a few days, thanks largely to technology.

July 11 also fell on a Sunday, a day when most workers and students were at home. The results are not the same on a weekday. Many find it inconvenient to leave work or school to join an anti-government demonstration, whether it is formally planned or not.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven,” says Ecclesiastes. The Cuban peasant was very patient and always knew exactly when his crops should be harvested, when the moon was perfect and, in the meantime, watered and cared for his plants. Our own fruit, to paraphrase Jose Marti, requires a natural and arduous gestation period. For now, it’s maturing.

https://translatingcuba.com/cuba-a-manual-for-a-successful-protest-march/


The New York Times, November 21, 2021

Playwright Is in Exile as Cuba Uses an Old Playbook to Quash Dissent

Yunior García, one of the rising stars of the Cuban protest movement, fled to Spain. He is one of a young generation of artists who say they have chosen exile over imprisonment

The harassment of Yunior García began with the decapitated pigeons left on his doorstep.Credit…Ben Roberts for The New York Times

By Nicholas Casey

Nov. 21, 2021

MADRID — For Yunior García, a Cuban playwright, the swift journey from activism in Havana to exile in Madrid might have been lifted from one of his scripts.

It began with the decapitated pigeons at his doorstep, placed there, he suspects, by agents of Cuba’s Communist government to scare him. Then a pro-regime crowd, scores strong, surrounded his home to shame him. He secretly secured a visa for Spain, he said, and contacts whisked him first to a safe house, then to Havana’s airport.

And just like that, Mr. García, one of the rising stars in the opposition demonstrations that have rocked Cuba this year, was gone.

“I’m not made of bronze or marble, and I am not riding a white horse,” Mr. García, 39, told reporters at a news conference in Madrid on Thursday, a day after his arrival, saying he feared imprisonment and didn’t want to be a martyr. “I am a person who is afraid, with fears and with worries.”

It was a dispiriting loss — some even called it a betrayal — for Cuba’s pro-democracy protesters who had managed to channel decades of anger over economic failures and desperation caused by the pandemic into a moment not seen before on the island: a movement on the streets, organized on smartphones and social media, that drew Cubans by the thousands to demand change.

But that all came to a halt on Monday when state security agents scuttled a nationwide protest. And days later, one of the movement’s best-known leaders, Mr. García, was sitting in Spain.

Men hanging Cuban flags over the windows of Mr. García’s home in Havana this past week, in an effort to stop him from communicating with supporters.Credit…Ramon Espinosa/Associated Press

To many, Mr. García’s predicament heralded a return to the Cuban government’s playbook of suppressing dissidents, which reached heights in the 1980s and 2000s. Critics were intimidated into fleeing the country, or in some cases, forced out.

“There is this kind of recurring, cyclical phenomenon: discredit those voices, silence them, intimidate them,” said Katrin Hansing, an anthropologist at Baruch College in New York who studies Cuba.

But this new generation of exiles is different.

They are young writers, artists and musicians who, for a time, were encouraged by Cuba’s opening up, even promoting their talents to the world.

Less than a decade ago, Cuba’s leaders talked of a need for change, even for limited criticism of the system. The country eliminated the exit visa, allowing Cubans to travel without official permission and letting a younger generation pursue education abroad. It made a deal with the United States to reestablish ties, with provisions to expand the flow of information.

Hamlet Lavastida, a 38-year-old Cuban artist, was among those who had taken advantage of the loosened restrictions. After living in Poland for several years, he went to Germany in 2020 to take up an artist residency. His work often took aim at the Cuban state: In May, he exhibited a piece made of cutout paper that included another Cuban artist’s confession under interrogation by the authorities.

Cubans gathering at dawn outside a store in Alamar. They have endured months of food and medicine shortages. Credit…Eliana Aponte Tobar for The New York Times

After Mr. Lavastida returned to Havana in June, the authorities arrested him and took him to an interrogation facility where he was held for three months without charge. He said he contracted Covid-19 there, with agents repeatedly questioning him about his artwork and saying he was a terrorist.

“‘Do you know who Tony Blinken is?’ they would ask,” said Mr. Lavastida, referring to Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state. Cuba’s government has accused the dissidents of acting on behalf of the United States, which it says is fostering unrest to overthrow the government.

In September, the government forced Mr. Lavastida on to a plane bound for Poland, where he has a son. Now back in Berlin, he was charged in Cuba this fall with incitement.

Mónica Baró, a 33-year-old independent journalist who left Cuba this year for Madrid, said the recent pattern echoed the Black Spring crackdown of 2003, when the government imprisoned 75 dissidents and journalists.

This time, however, the government is using tactics that attract less media attention, Ms. Baró said. For example, rather than sentencing government critics outright to prison, the authorities have detained them for stretches at a time, in an effort to “destabilize everyone emotionally — you and your family,” she said.

“It’s a kind of psychological torture,” Ms. Baró said.

For Mr. García, it leaves a question: Why had the government touted reforms if it wouldn’t tolerate voices like his?

Mr. García talking to reporters outside the provincial prosecutor’s office in Havana last month.Credit…Yamil Lage/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“It’s like they tried perestroika without glasnost,” he said, invoking terms used in the Soviet Union during its reform era at the end of the Cold War. The first refers to official reforms, the second to the openness that was meant to follow.

Mr. García made his name in the small but growing world of Cuban theater, pioneering a style in which he would write short scripts that were then used as the basis for improvisation. Many of his works centered around his own story as a dissident artist.

One play, “Jacuzzi,” told the stories of three Cubans — a dissident, a Communist and an apathetic young woman — as they discuss life and politics in a hot tub. Performances of the play, which premiered in 2017, were allowed in Cuba, though during Havana’s biggest theater festival, it was ordered to be performed in a theater that was hard to reach, he said.

Hopes of greater change from thawed U.S.-Cuban relations dimmed under the Trump administration, which aggressively rolled back most of the ties that had been remade between the countries, dealing a damaging blow to the Cuban economy.

By the start of 2021, the pandemic was also straining the country’s vaunted health care system.

In July, hunger and blackouts ignited a wave of demonstrations, as thousands took to the streets in a show of defiance not seen in the six decades since the Cuban revolution. The government responded by arresting hundreds.

Mr. García had hoped to mobilize protests again this fall. He and other activists started Archipiélago, a Facebook forum whose membership grew to more than 38,000. They called for a new round of protests to be held on Nov. 15, the day Cuba was set to allow foreign tourists to enter again.

Mr. García found himself in the cross hairs.

On Oct. 22, he said he returned home to find the pair of decapitated pigeons. Days later, hundreds of government supporters gathered at his doorstep, chanting against him.

“I didn’t see a single neighbor among them,” said Mr. García, who believes the crowd was transported there by the government.

By last week, state-run television began running segments saying Mr. García was aiming to violently overthrow the government. He took it as a warning that he would soon be arrested.

Though he had obtained a 90-day visa from the Spanish government, Mr. García still planned to join the Nov. 15 protests. But he was blocked from leaving his home as the government stopped demonstrators from gathering.

Shortly afterward, Mr. García said, two friends sneaked him out of his home to a safe house where he spent two days before arriving in Spain. The government had posted guards in front of his home, but Mr. García said he believed he was not stopped because officials wanted him out of the country.

The reactions to his departure have been mixed on the Facebook group he founded. The group’s leaders, apparently unaware at first that he had fled, posted messages suggesting he had been kidnapped. Some commenters said they felt betrayed that he had left.

In Spain, though, Mr. García has found welcome.

“I’m not made of bronze or marble, and I am not riding a white horse,” Mr. García told reporters after arriving in Madrid.Credit…Ben Roberts for The New York Times

On Thursday, he walked into a pizza restaurant where he was embraced by the owner, Eduardo López, who had left Cuba decades before when he was 22.

“I was hoping you would come here. I had prayed for it,” he said.

Mr. García sat down and glanced at the menu. He said he wanted to return to Cuba.

It wasn’t clear when that would be, if ever.

José Bautista contributed reporting from Madrid.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/21/world/americas/yunior-garcia-exile-spain.html

Babalú Blog, November 22, 2021

The peaceful struggle for freedom in Cuba: Testimony at the Transatlantic Parliamentary Forum

November 22, 2021 by Alberto de la Cruz

John Suarez, the Executive Director for the Center for a FREE Cuba, gave testimony to the peaceful struggle for freedom in Cuba at the Transatlantic Parliamentary Forum.

Via Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Testimony by John Suarez at the Transatlantic Parliamentary Forum on November 20, 2021

Transatlantic Parliamentary Forum testimony: November 20, 2021

July 11, 2021 national nonviolent protests in Cuba marked a before and after in the history of the island. Tens of thousands of Cubans across the island demanded an end to the dictatorship, rejected the official slogan Patria o Muerte (Homeland or Death) and chanted Patria y Vida (Homeland and Life). The reaction of the dictatorship was swift and brutal. Boinas Negras (black berets) formally known as the National Special Brigade of the Ministry of the Interior, fired on unarmed protesters, and were captured on video. The dictatorship handed out clubs to regime agents to attack protesters. Thousands were detained, and hundreds remain jailed and face summary trials with prison sentences in excess of 25 years.

The lack of transparency in Cuba took on a new urgency in the current context. The International Committee of the Red Cross has not been allowed in Cuban prisons since 1989, and that was a brief period between 1988-1989. In comparison, the prison for Al Qaeda prisoners at the U.S. Guantanamo Naval Base had over 100 visits between 2002 and 2014, and have continued to the present date.

Cuba is the only country in the Americas where Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other international and regional human rights organizations are unable to visit.

We are deeply concerned with the plight of political prisoners such as Virgilio Mantilla Arango, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, Maykel Castillo Pérez (Osorbo), and their health status. It is also no coincidence that all are black Cubans.

These and other cases raise questions on the racist nature of the Castro regime.

Based on the Institute for Crime and Justice Policy Research, according to the January 13, 2020 article by EuropaPress, Cuba today has the largest per capita prison population in the world. Although official data is unavailable, it is known that a disproportionate number are Black Cubans.

On March 22, 1959 Fidel Castro declared that racism no longer existed in Cuba, to question that was to be a counter-revolutionary. The regime claimed over the next six decades that there is no racism in Cuba while poverty disproportionately impacts black Cubans with 95% having the lowest incomes compared to 58% of white Cubans, after six decades of communism, and independent black voices continue to be silenced.

Continue reading HERE.

https://babalublog.com/2021/11/22/the-peaceful-struggle-for-freedom-in-cuba-testimony-at-the-transatlantic-parliamentary-forum/

Mail & Guardian, November 20, 2021

National

The situation in Cuba: ‘Prisoners in South Africa live in better conditions’

By Erika Gibson

20 Nov 2021

Unhygienic: Air force students in Cuba have shared screenshots of the starch-heavy and unpalatable food they are served and the cockroaches that infest their food and living space

South African Air Force student pilots being trained in Cuba are allegedly being treated as “slaves”, with a compulsory period of lawn-mowing using machetes every morning after physical training.

Parents who spoke to the Mail & Guardian are up in arms, saying conditions the students are subjected to are nothing short of being locked up in a prison camp. Even their uniforms are similar to those worn by prison chain gangs during apartheid.

https://mg.co.za/news/2021-11-20-the-situation-in-cuba-prisoners-in-south-africa-live-in-better-conditions/