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Cuban history recalls two emblematic commencements of the country’s two wars for independence, the Cry of Yara (1868) and the Cry of Baires (1895). Both sacrosanct events signaled that the nascent nation in arms was determined to be free and independent and on the path to achieving those objectives. This was realized in 1902. History will record July 11th, 2021, as the “Cry of San Antonio de los Baños” and the initiation of the 2021 Cuban Uprising, a seismic undertaking that marks a before and an after.
Both Yara and Baires were localities where the separatist revolts began in the 19th century. San Antonio de los Baños, a municipality close to Havana which houses a World War II air force base still in use and part of Cuban communism’s airborne offensive capability machine, was the ground zero flicker point that started the nationwide civic revolt of Sunday, July 11th.
Over fifty localities, far and wide across the archipelago that is Cuba, witnessed massive demonstrations demanding the end of the sixty-two-year Marxist tyrannical rule, overseen principally by the Castro family but ultimately sustained by a regime-driven communist belief system with the corresponding Leninist organization of society and power.
It is not that Cubans began the fight for freedom on that day. Since January 1st, 1959, there has been a war of liberation carried out by the people of Cuba against communism, from inside and from exile, continuously. This fight, naturally, gained momentum once the new regime began to reveal its Marxist-Leninist DNA.
This has been an ongoing war of liberation which throughout the decades has acquired varying characteristics, typically 2 acclimate the struggle to the times we are living. It was on the internal social front, however, where Castro-Communism was most successful. Its high prioritization of social domestication schemes which have included intense state-induced terror, a formidable domestic and foreign espionage network, and the necessary funds (from the Soviets, foreign investors and bankers, Venezuela, and drug trafficking) to carry out this comprehensive social control apparatus, was able to produce low levels of mass public demonstrations of discontent.
The notion of “preemptive” acting is key to this dictatorial endeavor. So important is this for the communist dictatorship, that the nature of preemptive striking against perceived “enemies” is embedded in their laws and other legal instruments, giving their socialist legalism mechanisms the codified authority to punish dissent even before it occurs. Public exhibitions of “deviant” behavior or expression have been intolerable. Not just out of tyrannical arrogance, but out of survivorship urgency. The success of the Ladies in White, an opposition movement started in 2003 consisting of wives and female family members of political prisoners who gathered every Sunday for Mass and peacefully walked along the streets dressed in white (symbolizing purity and peace), gained great international recognition.
The Castro government began an immediate demolition campaign intent on destroying the 2005 recipients of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought (Ladies in White). The overarching concern of the communist dictatorship was the potential contagion effect this could have on the rest of the population. Utilizing brutal parastate mobs, systemic harassments, the possible killing of Laura Pollán, the group’s founder, internal spying and disinformation promotion, and the criminalization of peaceful outdoor expression, the group’s access to significant public space was curtailed. This required an organized repressive/intelligence operation on the part of the Castro regime.
The question of whether Cubans could exercise extemporaneous civil and political protests in the public arena has not been one that they have wanted to leave to chance. This explains the Castro-Communism’s frugality towards social betterment programs, while lavishly dedicating resources to repressive instruments of power.
“Totalitarian government,” wrote Hannah Arendt in her classical The Origins of Totalitarianism, “destroys the essential prerequisite of all freedoms which is simply the ability of motion that cannot exist without space.” That “space” was consistently and effectively suppressed by Castro-Communism for many years. The 2021 Cuban Uprising was spontaneity and human nature colluding at its optimal capacity. Shy of a national rampant clampdown on all digital and electronic devices, a basic impossibility given the grave desperateness of the Marxist dictatorship for hard currency, Cubans on the Island have crossed a point of no return.
Most of those that conformed the multitudes in the over fifty localities where mass demonstrations took place, were the targets of Cuban communism’s focal indoctrination program for decades. They were disproportionately young and black. On July 11th, socialism’s mind and social control scheme proved its limitations. The empowerment the 2021 Cuban Uprising gave to the subjugated people on the Island, will not be surrendered. One can almost hear the crumbling of the “unity” within the regime’s closet factions.
Julio M Shiling, political scientist, writer, director of Patria de Martí and The Cuban American Voice, lecturer and media commentator. A native of Cuba, he currently lives in the United States. Twitter: @JulioMShiling // Julio es politólogo, escritor, director de Patria de Martí y The Cuban American Voice. Conferenciante y comentarista en los medios. Natural de Cuba, vive actualmente en EE UU.