Cuba forbids planned protest marches

·2-min read

Cuba has denied government opponents permission to stage what they said would be a peaceful march for civil liberties in the capital Havana and other provinces on grounds it was part of efforts to overthrow the government.

Protests rocked the Communist-run country for two days in July, with the biggest anti-government demonstrations in decades resulting in hundreds of arrests, one death and calls for US intervention by some Cuban-Americans.

Government critics, organised by a Facebook group called Archipelago, initially planned protests across the country for November 20, but switched the date to November 15 after authorities declared the 20th a national defence day, during which citizens practice preparedness for a US invasion.

The fallback date of the 15th, however, falls on the same day Cuba plans to reopen to tourism after two years in which the all-important industry has been hobbled by the coronavirus pandemic.

Protests in Cuba have been generally forbidden on grounds the United States was behind them, but the country's new constitution, approved three years ago, opened a space for 'legitimate' protest.

"The protesters ... as well as their links with some subversive organisations ... have the open intention of changing the political system in Cuba", a letter to organisers rejecting permission to march said.

"The protests are a provocation and part of a regime change strategy for Cuba tested in other countries."

Archipelago, which says it has 20,000 members, many of whom live outside the country, said they had planned to rally for civil liberties including the right to peaceful protest and an amnesty for imprisoned government opponents.

"We thought this might happen after they declared the 20th National Defence Day," protest leader and playwright Yunior Garcia told Reuters.

"This response shows the most conservative and hard line have power in Cuba," he said, adding the group was still discussing its next move.

Well-known government opponents are among those who remain behind bars following the July 11-12 unrest, some facing long sentences.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting