Sat Feb 24, 2024
February 24, 2024

Cuba | A year after the 11J protests

A year has passed since the social outburst that shook Cuba between July 11 and 12, 2021. From one end of the island to the other, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to repudiate the unbearable deterioration of living conditions. Aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which had collapsed the public health system, and the oppression of a dictatorial regime that prevents any kind of trade union and political organization outside the control of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), Cubans mobilized. The LIT-CI has supported the protests and repudiated the repression from the beginning, participating in the democratic campaign for the freedom of political prisoners in several countries.
By Daniel Sugasti
The shortages, the proliferation of dollar stores [1], and the lack of control of the pandemic added to the legitimate aspirations for democratic freedoms. These were the driving force behind the protests. The working class and the Cuban people, therefore, did not take to the streets to “restore capitalism” at the command of Washington or the Cuban bourgeoisie exiled in Miami, as the PCC alleges and the broad arc of neo-Stalinist and Castro-Chavist parties repeats. Not at all. The protests broke out for the same reasons as in any other Latin American country: repudiation of the brutal attacks on the standard of living of the working class and, in the Cuban case, the dictatorship headed by the PCC since 1959.
As we have explained in other articles, the protests of 11J 2021 could hardly restore capitalism or hand over the country to foreign capital for the simple reason that the market economy has been restored in the 1990s by the Castro leadership itself. In the last thirty years, this regime has promoted all kinds of business deals with European, Canadian and, to a lesser extent, even U.S. imperialism.
In Cuba, there is no socialism. In Cuba, there is a capitalist state run by a bourgeois dictatorship, a police regime with umbilical ties to imperialist capital. In Cuba, there is no “workers’ democracy”. In Cuba, the working class decides absolutely nothing, nor can it organize to resist any government measure since it lacks freedom of opinion, press, trade union, and political freedom.
This is the regime defended by the PCC and most of the so-called “leftist” organizations in Latin America.
Vicious repression carried out in response
The Cuban regime responded to the 11J movement with harsh repression. In terms of propaganda, the ruling clique unleashed a campaign of slander against the demonstrators, accusing them of being part of a counterrevolutionary conspiracy orchestrated by imperialism. The brave Cuban people who, in spite of the authoritarian regime, took to the streets, were also subjected to the epithets of “confused,” vandals, scum, and worms.

The Cuban police, together with elite troops (Black Berets) and para-police groups linked to the state apparatus, killed a demonstrator and arrested hundreds of people indiscriminately, among them dozens of minors. The arrests did not respect any legal guarantees; in many cases, the whereabouts of the people were unknown for days. The Internet was widely used by the state during and after the protests. Cities such as Artemisa, Havana, Holguin, and Matanzas were militarized almost immediately. The boot of the dictatorship was and is determined to nip the opposition impulse in the bud, whatever the cost.
A recent report presented by Justicia 11J and Cubalex attempts to measure the repression of the protests up to July 1, 2022. Through the constant and courageous collaboration of protesters and family members, it has been possible to document 1,484 arrests since 11J. Of those arrested, 11% were between 12 and 20 years of age [2]. At least 701 people are still under arrest.
However, Justicia 11J recognizes that these are not definitive data as “(…) despite many efforts, there is no definitive figure of people arrested for their participation in the July 2021 protests, it is unknown how many people have been released, how many remain in state custody and under investigation…” [3]. In many cases, the place of detention is also unknown. A Cubalex investigation, on the other hand, documented at least 14 torture techniques in Cuba’s prisons.
At the end of January 2022, the Cuban prosecutor’s office reported that 790 people were facing criminal proceedings for having participated in the mobilizations, including 115 defendants between the ages of 16 and 20. Of this number of defendants, 68% were in pre-trial detention as of July 2021.
Between February and March, the first sentences for sedition were announced. The total sentence, as of March, amounted to 1,916 years of imprisonment. According to the NGO Prisoners Defenders, seven adolescents aged 16 and 17 had been sentenced to between seven and nineteenth years in prison. The Cuban Observatory for Human Rights reported that “…77% of those sentenced had no criminal record…”[4]. Most of them, evidently, are individuals who went out to protest out of justified discontent, many of them for the first time in their lives.
What evidence did the regime present against the protesters? Mere testimonies by state employees, the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), and agents of the Ministry of the Interior. In other cases, information was obtained, without the permission of the accused, from their cell phones or content published on social networks.
In sum, both the accusation, the justification, and the process itself, completely flawed, account for the complete absence of legal guarantees and elementary democratic freedoms. The arguments of the Cuban prosecutors are worthy of the Moscow Trials, the legal farce staged by Stalinism during the 1930s.
The regime’s intention in imposing “exemplary” sentences against the 11J demonstrators is to intimidate, to demoralize those who dared to mobilize against the high cost, the health crisis, the political asphyxia, the absence of the most elementary democratic freedoms.
Redouble the campaign against the imprisonments and for the annulment of the sentences
The LIT-CI positioned itself from the beginning in favor of the 11J protests in Cuba. We stand in solidarity with their demands and denounce the repression by the Díaz-Canel regime and the PCC clique that controls the Cuban state. We confronted the slander against the demonstrators promoted by neo-Stalinism and Castro-Chavism all over the world. We did so with the pride of being on the right side of history, on the side of the interests of the working class of Cuba against a capitalist dictatorship capable of trampling on its own people to guarantee its business with imperialism. Most of the so-called left, on the other hand, cannot say the same. As it did with Gaddafi, Assad, Maduro, Ortega, and now with Putin, it aligned itself with the dictators against the people.
From the beginning, we joined the campaign demanding the immediate release of all political prisoners in Cuba and an end to repression. One year later, the struggle has not ended. The advance of criminalization makes it imperative to redouble our efforts, to expand the democratic and internationalist campaign to free all political prisoners, and annul the sentences. To this end, we call on all workers’, peasants’ and students’ organizations, artists’ collectives, intellectuals, in short, all those who defend human rights and democratic guarantees, to collaborate with this democratic initiative.
We will continue to uphold the banner of democratic freedoms in Cuba against the regime of the PCC and the Armed Forces which, far from what socialism represents, sows and harvests terror, social inequality, hunger and forced migrations. We consider this task an essential starting point for a strategic struggle: a new revolution on the island that recovers the material and cultural conquests of 1959 but with workers’ democracy, permanent combat against any kind of oppression, respect for diversity, and that begins the road to socialism.

Free the political prisoners in Cuba! Enough repression!
No imperialist interference!
Down with the authoritarian and capitalist regime of Díaz-Canel!
 
Notes:
[1] Tiendas en MLC (Moneda Libremente Convertible) en las que solo se acepta el pago en dólares o euros, cuando la clase trabajadora cubana percibe haberes en moneda nacional.
[2] Un año sin justicia: patrones de violencia estatal contra manifestantes del 11J. Ver: <https://bit.ly/unañosinjusticia>. El informe especifica que “Entre los 12 y los 17 años de edad – niños, según la Convención de Derechos del Niño –, resultaron detenidas 57 personas, lo cual representa el 3,8% del total de detenidos…”.
[3] Ver: <https://www.facebook.com/justicia11j/posts/pfbid02Kpe7faQTBQGznD6sRknxj3xZauPzHHvSGCYxmdzVeafHyAnHGSfc94wrSWNU6aQel >.
[4] Ver: <https://observacuba.org/ocdh-condena-sentencias-tribunal-habana-falsa-criminalizacion-manifestantes-11j-cuba/ >.

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