Havana, Cuba – The Cuban government held a mass rally in the early hours of Saturday morning on the seafront of Havana, the city’s famous cornice, at the end of a week of discomfort which spurred a lot of international criticism.
Crowds for the rally of the “Revolutionary Reaffirmation Act” in the Cuban capital, which the government said was 100,000, arrived before sunrise and spilled onto the road near the U.S. embassy. . Other rallies were held across the country.
People had traveled there by bus and truck and the music of Silvio Rodríguez, one of the few, got to know her famous Cuban musicians not to criticize the government’s fierce response to last week’s protests.
“I am here to support the Cuban revolution,” Yilian Llanes told Al Jazeera. “Give my support as a representative of young Cubans and express my dissatisfaction with the violent protests that took place in our country.”
Those protests it started last Sunday in the city of San Antonio de los Banos. Residents were furious with blackouts for hours, but people quickly spilled onto the streets of the island due to rage. months of food and medicine shortages.
Police cars were overturned, looted some hated MLC stores, where necessities can only be bought in foreign currency, and clashes erupted with police and government supporters.
The state’s response: It arrested hundreds, including protesters who were removed from the crowd and detained without their families being informed of where they were. a reprimand Friday of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“All detainees to exercise their rights must be released immediately,” Michelle Bachelet said.
‘Viva Cuba Lliure’
People began to be transported to the Vedado neighborhood of Havana from the party’s local headquarters from 4:30 a.m. (8:30 GMT) on Saturday for the rally. They carried party flags, banners and banners showing revolutionary heroes such as Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.
Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother, 90, who He resigned as first Communist Party secretary in April, he made an appearance but did not speak. Instead, the microphone was given to his successor, Miguel Diaz-Canel.
“Viva Cuba Libre,” Díaz-Canel shouted, before launching an attack on social media, access to which the government had restricted much of last week.
“Hatred robs us of time to love. We experienced this last week on social media. The owners of these networks, the dictators of these algorithms, have opened their platforms to hatred, without the slightest ethical concern, ”he said.
“It’s a hatred that breaks friends, families, society and threatens to render many of our values unusable.”
Unlike last weekend’s protests, Saturday’s people were older. People had been called in for their jobs and many wore T-shirts from state industries, such as oil distributor CUPET. Others carried pro-Cuba slogans.
However, young people took part, including Kenneth Fowler, 27, who told Al Jazeera that he was a professor at the University of Havana and had come with students from the Faculty of Chemistry.
“Last weekend we had an attempt against the security of our society,” he said. “It was part of a much bigger attack on the United States government and the capitalist system. The president asked people to come forward and stand up for our successes. That’s why I’m here. “
On Thursday night, during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Joe Biden made it clear that he would continue Donald Trump’s policy of denying money to Cubans by continuing to block remittances sent by relatives to the United States. ‘foreigner. UN Bachelet also criticized the 60-year U.S. embargo.
Meanwhile, news of the rally spurred criticism from those who have been watching COVID-19 floods every corner of the island. The daily average of new cases has exceeded 6,000 and hospitals are overflowing in several provinces.
Amilcar Perez Riverol, a postdoctoral fellow in molecular biology at the State University of Sao Paulo in Brazil and a veteran of Cuban laboratories, has been a staunch supporter of Cuban scientists and health workers as they have fought the virus and developed self-produced vaccines.
He tweeted that for a country that is currently fifth in the world and first in Latin America in terms of per capita infections, the decision to meet seemed disastrous.
“These rallies are not good news for controlling the current increase in Cuba. Not only because of possible infections during rallies, but because of the message they send,” Perez Riverol told Al Jazeera on Saturday.
But at the Malecon, Fowler said it was too important to demonstrate unity to worry about the new spread of the virus. “We have to show our determination to fight together, I think that’s more important,” he said. “And you know what? I didn’t hear anyone tell the protesters last weekend. “