On November 27, something historic happened in Cuba, although the regime denies it: several hundred young people spontaneously gathered before the Ministry of Culture to denounce the harassment against the San Isidro Movement (MSI), a platform of independent artists, intellectuals and journalists; to claim the rapper’s release Denis Solis, sentenced to eight months in prison for a false crime of contempt; and to ask for freedom of expression and creation. After hours of vigil, some thirty artists were received by the Vice Minister of Culture, Fernando Rojas, to present their demands and begin a negotiation, something unprecedented (the regime meets only with like-minded artists). Rojas agreed on several commitments that night. It seemed that the Cuban government listened to the demands of the artists, but it was not. The commitments made by Rojas were violated 24 hours later.
According to sources consulted by ABC, the meeting would have been one more strategy of the regime to buy time and deflate the mobilization. But what it could not prevent is already one of its fruits: the birth of 27-N, a working group, made up of the thirty artists who met with Rojas, that claims the right to dissent and “the right to political freedom ». This was stated this Friday, through a statement after the breakdown of negotiations in which they asked to meet with the Minister of Culture, Alpidio Alonso, but also with the President Miguel Díaz Canel. “The Ministry of Culture is subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior,” the artist explained to ABC Tania bruguera, member of 27-N. In this same line it was manifested days before Amaury Pacheco, of the MSI, who denounced at a press conference that “who runs the country is the State Security and not the politicians.”
The Ministry of Culture justified the breakdown of the dialogue by accusing the artists of being “mercenaries” financed by the US, using once again the strategy of defamation.
But the wick of hope had already lit. Has Cuba awakened? We asked Bruguera: «Yes, it has awakened, but above all, people are beginning to think that perhaps they may have the right to dream again. And when you have that conviction, nothing can stop you, “she says, after admitting feeling” very disappointed “by the breakdown of the negotiations. “The Government has made a mistake”, sentence. Hours after these statements, the international artist was arrested, for the third time in a few days, interrogated and released. But it was not the only one. Dozens of artists have been detained and harassed by State Security agents and by rapid response brigades (groups of civilians) led by them. This has raised fear of another “Black Spring”, which in 2003 led to the arrest of 75 dissidents. The terror machine has now been reactivated due to the regime’s own fear of losing control of the situation, generated by a sector whose power it has underestimated.
The strength of this mobilization resides in three factors: it has had the support of well-known figures inside and outside the island, such as the actor Jorge Perugorría, the filmmaker Fernando Pérez and the plastic artist Tania Bruguera; To this is added that the sector of artists and intellectuals works as a union – they are not individualities; and most dangerous of all, its main field of action is that of thought.
The regime had to find a strategy to end the peaceful insurrection, the largest since 1994 when the so-called «El Maleconazo», according to, that it was suffocated with the appearance of Fidel Castro. Then, as now, the special forces, known as “black berets,” patrolled the streets, rarely used by the regime.
Dollarization and pandemic
The current insurrection also occurs at a time when the country is immersed in a severe economic crisis, aggravated by the pandemic, the fall in tourism and dollarization. All this surrounded by rumors about the health of the general secretary of the Communist Party, Raúl Castro.
To regain stability – that of the regime, of course – a plan had to be devised: delay the negotiations, and meanwhile show the Government’s instruments to quell the protest, such as making use of Article 4 of the Constitution announced by Díaz Canel, who supports “the armed struggle, when no other recourse is possible, against anyone who tries to overthrow the political, social and economic order established in this Constitution.” The regime stirred the specter of a civil war.
Meanwhile, he trapped the artists to divide or radicalize them, through criminalization in the state media. He was looking for excuses to blow up the dialogue. On Friday he did, but the fight is not over. “Today fear does not stop us,” announced 27-N, which will continue with its demands.
Meanwhile, this Saturday the Ministry of Culture rushed to announce that it was resuming negotiations with an alternative group of artists, we presume that more closely related to the regime.