NEW YORK — For months, opponents of Cuba’s socialist government have called for demonstrations on November 15. Archipelago, the “initiative” led by Cuban activists largely confined to the internet and organizing what they called a “civic march for change” or “N15”, has promised to flood the streets of Cuba to demand political freedom and regime change.
These calls quickly found amplifiers in the United States. The Cuban-American right, coupled with a host of sympathetic members of Congress, like Florida Senator Marco Rubio, have sought to use the planned disruption to mobilize anti-Cuban sentiment.
The hope was that the N15 will see even bigger protests than those that took place on July 11 of this year. This summer’s marches were among the biggest protests on the island in decades and were largely in response to an economic slump brought on by a pandemic and accompanying medical shortages.
Hopeful American political experts and politicians saw the protests as an opportunity to stir up potential unrest. Washington lawmakers reacted quickly by threatening new sanctions and re-energizing funding – to the tune of millions of dollars – for news outlets and organizations critical of Cuba like the “Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba.” Cuba ”and the“ Memorial Foundation for the Victims of Communism ”. . “
The actions, of course, prompted Cuban government officials to criticize the United States for deliberately stirring up unrest in their country. “In no case will we allow permanent aggression by the United States”, Cuban Foreign Minister said Bruno Rodriguez, “to generate conditions of internal subversion”.
The plans for the “N15” protests were reprimanded by Cuba and treated as an attempt by a foreign nation to stir up unrest. The response from the United States was uncompromising: “The Cuban regime clearly demonstrates that it is unwilling to honor or defend the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Cubans”, declared spokesperson for the State Department Ned Price in an official press release issued on October 16.
Political experts predicted that a mass political eruption would erupt in Cuba, and U.S. government officials remained optimistic.
On the morning of November 15, however, the streets of Cuba were empty of anti-government protesters. As the day wore on, the situation did not change and the pro-dissident media quickly began to portray the failure of the mobilization as a product of Cuban government repression. But the reality is that, unlike the July 11 protests, which garnered some popular support, the “N15” protests were entirely political in nature.
While the July 11 protests were sparked by genuine complaints about the shortages, this time the subversive online group Archipelago called on the Cuban people to take the next step and choose between Cuban socialism and capitalism in the American. The result was an astonishing consensus for the former: not only was there no mass street action against the Cuban government, but the streets were in fact filled with pro-government counter-protesters, who marched on. red shirts in favor of socialism and shouted at the few dissidents who came forward.
Since July, Cuba has effectively implemented a mass vaccination campaign and tackled some of the worst effects of the country’s economic downturn. It turned out that not many people wanted to overthrow the government they saw working hard to improve their situation.
Nonetheless, the anti-Cuban right in the United States has kept its promise, underscoring its support for regime change with protests in major American cities. The cars of Miami’s famous conservative “Little Havana” carried banners bearing the words “SOSCuba” and “Patria y Vida”. In New York, in an obvious attempt at intimidation, a small contingent gathered in front of the Cuban consulate. In front of them was a coalition counter-demonstration expressing solidarity with the Cuban people.
Songs of “Cuba sí, bloqueo no!” and “El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!” met the cries of “Libertad!” and taunt swears from the right. Demands for regime change have fought demands for international solidarity and an end to Cuba’s inhumane sanctions that have lasted for decades.
As Cuba remained calm, the sidewalk of Lexington Avenue in Manhattan became an ideological battleground. The counter-demonstrators, from all walks of life, of different races, genders and ages, represented in miniature the great diversity of America’s multiracial working class and showed that the struggle for international solidarity was unifying.
Val Abello, a spokesman for the Communist Youth League of New York, called on Biden to keep his campaign pledge to resume diplomatic relations with Cuba and demanded that Congress reject what he called “the imperialist resolution. 760 ”, the statement encouraging anti-government protests. in Cuba. Abello demanded that the Biden administration “end its support – both financial and political – for Cuban dissidents” and stop treating the sovereignty of other nations as disposable.
Contrary to undemocratic and hawkish calls for intervention from Washington, counter-protesters in New York have defended the values of internationalism and respect for sovereignty, demanding that the US government stop interfering in business. interior of Cuba and end its illegal blockade.