July 11 will be remembered in the history of Cubans as a before and after for the country, when citizens finally took to the streets to protest against the Castro regime, shouting “Down with the dictatorship”, “Freedom”, “We are not afraid” and “Homeland and life”.
In an interview with El American, Cristian Crespo, a Cuban activist, who has lived in Chile for nearly 25 years, said that since the era of the also dictator Fulgencio Batista, “in 62 years the regime had not been so vulnerable.”
This is the largest anti-government protest recorded on the island since the so-called “Maleconazo”, when in August 1994, at the height of the special period, hundreds of people took to the streets of Havana and did not leave until the arrival of then Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
Cubans gained visibility thanks to the #SOSCuba campaign
The events come after the #SOSCuba campaign has gained international visibility in recent days, launched by civil society due to the severe economic and health crisis, with the pandemic out of control and a severe shortage of food, medicines and other basic products, in addition to long power outages.
“The protests in Cuba was a surprise factor for everyone, nothing was planned, simply July 11 will remain for the history of a tired nation,” said Crespo.
Fear is lost in Cuba
For the activist this uprising is totally “against the Castro regime, it is not against the embargo or the blockade, nor against the empire, they are cries for freedom. Cubans are no longer afraid.”
Cristián Crespo recalls that Cuba “cannot trade with other countries because it does not have the purchasing power to do so,” although he affirmed that the officials of the Castro dictatorship “live like kings,” while the people die of hunger.
The leader, who also fled Cuba with his family before Fidel Castro prohibited professionals to leave, since his father is a doctor, explained that since Fidel Castro is no longer alive, “Cubans no longer feel terror,” and with Miguel Díaz-Canel “fear is no longer the same.”
He also assured that thanks to the communications era, once the citizens of Havana became active, the other provinces took courage and also decided to raise their voices and take to the streets calling for a dignified life.
Residents of San Antonio de los Baños, a town in Artemisa province located some 37 kilometers west of Havana, lit the fuse on social media and initiated calls for protests throughout Cuba.
Several media outlets around the world reported that the protesters took to the streets due to coronavirus, which has affected 250,527 Cubans as of Tuesday, of which 1,608 have died, according to the country’s Ministry of Public Health.
However, the Cuban opposition, in conversation with El American, emphasizes that the origin of the protests in Cuba is due to the extreme situation they have been living in for decades and of which the people are tired.
Three days after the historic mass protests against the regime, there are 233 detained or missing persons, according to the latest report of the Complaint Center of the Foundation for Pan American Democracy (FDP).
As of this Wednesday, Cubans still have not regained access to the Internet, but there continues to be a strong police presence in the streets as families and friends search for those detained in the demonstrations. However, it is not known exactly how many people have lost their lives since July 11.