As activists plan nationwide protests, Cuba accuses U.S. of involvement

As activists in Cuba defy the government and continue to prepare for nationwide protests on November 15, the government is tightening its rhetoric against the US, accusing it of funding and leading protesters.

President Miguel Díaz-Canel said in a speech on Sunday that the protests were “an externally orchestrated plan”.

In the province of Matanzas, east of the capital Havana, the authorities committed on Sunday “el día territorial de la defensa” – loosely translated as territorial defense day – in order to anticipate a possible invasion by what the government “denied the enemy” called, prepare.

A video on a Cuban news program showed defense officials meeting with local workers on readiness, armed people responding to an attack, and schools holding exercises.

In his speech, Díaz-Canel said the earlier July 11 protests were “nothing more than provocations and acts of vandalism as part of the strategy of unconventional war and ‘soft coup’ against our revolution”.

He said the march, which will be organized in less than three weeks, will involve think tanks and US government spokesmen.

The loudest leader of the planned march, Yunior García, denied the allegations, saying the organizers had made a pact not to use debt funding.

The US has expressed its support for the demonstrators after the events in July. Following tough crackdown on the Cuban government, the US sanctioned several government officials and agencies in August.

Díaz-Canel said the US embassy in Havana was undermining “the internal order of our country”. US diplomats often meet with “those leading the counterrevolution,” he says, providing guidance, logistical support and funding.

A State Department spokesman said in a statement Tuesday that “the US government supports the right of Cubans and people everywhere to exercise their freedom of expression and assembly,” adding, “We urge the Cuban government to claim these rights respect and see this not as an attack, but as an opportunity to listen to the Cuban people and do the right thing for Cubans and Cuba. ”

The Cuban embassy in the USA did not respond to a request for comment.

In his speech, Díaz-Canel said: “The stated goal of the United States government is to overthrow the Cuban Revolution.”

He said the Biden administration’s policy towards Cuba was “caught up in its desire to win the Florida vote,” which he believes is dominated by “the Cuban-American mafia in Miami,” utterances similar to those he said and other officials have done in the past.

The tone is similar to what Cuba took after the historic July 11 protests, when thousands of people took to the streets to spread grievances, from a lack of political change to chronic scarcity on the island.

While Díaz-Canel said in July that the government must “do a critical analysis of our own problems … so we can change the situation,” he blamed the US and the effects of the decades-long embargo for the protests.

Government officials have begun denigrating the young activists planning the November 15 protests on state television, accusing them of being US-led

The government rejected the activists’ official protest motion, saying it was an attempt to overthrow the government. The day of the march coincides with the day Cuba opens its borders to tourism.

Lillian Guerra, a professor of Cuban and Caribbean history at the University of Florida, said the “scare tactics” about a US invasion were one of the pillars of the Cuban government’s discourse prior to the 2000s.

“That doesn’t just include the fear of a US invasion,” said Guerra. “It was the fear that exiles who made it to the United States would come back and take over their land.”

But “that argument has stopped working,” and it doesn’t reflect what many are seeing locally in Cuba as more Cuban Americans have invested on the island through family ties to improve economic conditions for their relatives, she said.

For Cubans on the island campaigning for a change of government, preparing for a US invasion seems inconsistent with their reality.

The Cuban government’s strategy of blaming the US for neutralizing “the discussions” about the protests and promoting a theory that there is “no discontent on the island” does not take into account the reality on the ground, Guerra said.

“What emerges is an oppositional culture,” she said. “It’s not a growing opposition. It’s a growing oppositional culture. “

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