For days, people in Cuba have been taking to the streets and protesting against the government. Now dozens of them are missing – including many journalists.
A Youtuber was apparently arrested during a live interview on Spanish television about the protests in Cuba. In the middle of the program “Todo es Mentira” on the Spanish broadcaster Cuatro on Tuesday, the young woman who calls herself Dina Stars suddenly interrupted another guest and said: “The security forces are out there.” The Cuban woman went to the door of her apartment in Havana, stepped back in front of the camera shortly afterwards and said that she was being taken away. “I blame the government for whatever happens to me,” she said.
Earlier, Dina Stars said in an interview about the demonstrations that broke out on Sunday: “We need help. This is where people are being killed.” The people had nothing more to lose, she emphasized. “The people in Cuba are dying – they either starve to death or they get sick because there is no medication, or they are killed in a demonstration.”
Several arrests and missing persons
According to activists, around a hundred people were arrested in connection with the protests. According to sources, the well-known dissident José Daniel Ferrer and the journalist Camila Acosta, who works for a Spanish newspaper, were considered arrested or reported missing on Monday evening (local time).
According to the organization Netblocks, the Cuban authorities blocked Internet services such as Whatsapp and Facebook in order to make it difficult for government critics to exchange information – with success. Few of the information is leaked. For example, the journalist Abraham Jiménez Enoa wrote on Tuesday on Twitter because of the lack of access that it takes a lot of effort to speak of figures, “of dead, injured and disappeared. But there are”. Numerous people were reported missing in a Facebook group. “The press was targeted,” tweeted journalist Yoani Sánchez. There are police operations in the homes of activists and journalists.
According to the Cuban Interior Ministry, a person died on the outskirts of Havana on Tuesday. The official Cuban news agency reported that it was 36-year-old Diubis Laurencio Tejeda, who was involved in the current “unrest” in Cuba. The Ministry of the Interior “regretted” the death of the man.
Director: “We were treated like trash”
The San Isidro protest movement put the number of people arrested or reported missing by Monday evening at 114. In a Twitter message, the senior US diplomat Julie Chung condemned violence against demonstrators and the “disappearance of independent activists”, including the dissident Guillermo “Coco” as well as Ferrer “Fariñas, Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara and Amaury Pacheco.
Spain’s new foreign minister, José Manuel Albaren, expressed dismay at the arrest of the Cuban journalist Acosta, who most recently worked for the conservative Spanish newspaper “ABC”. Acosta had to be released “immediately,” said Albaren. “Spain defends the right to free and peaceful protest and calls on the Cuban authorities to do the same,” he added. Acosta was arrested on Monday, according to the “ABC” editor Alexis Rodríguez. She worked for “ABC” for six months. She also wrote for the opposition website “Cubanet”.
The director and oppositionist Yunior Garcia, who is one of the best-known faces of the artist protest movement 27N, also described his arrest. In the online service Facebook Garcia accused the security forces and a “horde of radical conservatives” to have beaten him and his friends. “We were treated like trash,” wrote the director.
That’s why the Cubans protest
In Cuba, thousands of people took to the streets on Sunday to express their displeasure with the worst economic crisis in 30 years. The demonstrations took place in dozens of cities. The trigger was, among other things, the lack of medicines and food. Under the former US President Donald Trump, the US had tightened its sanctions against Cuba. During the pandemic, the important income from tourism is now also missing. Recently, the number of corona infections has also increased significantly.
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel called on television on Sunday to defend the revolution – the socialist system – on the streets. “If you want to defeat the revolution, you have to go over our corpses,” he emphasized. The protesters, however, were not deterred and protested against the Cuban government. Among other things, they shouted “Freedom” and “Down with the dictatorship”.
Censorship and restrictions
The nationwide demonstrations are extremely unusual for Cuba. The only gatherings allowed are usually Communist Party events. The security forces reportedly cracked down on him. Videos were shown of men who activists said were plainclothes police officers beating and taking away protesters.
Data from the London-based organization Netblocks also showed that access to messenger services and online networks such as Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook and Instagram was restricted in Cuba on Monday. All telecommunications in Cuba are controlled by the state. This enables the authorities of the communist country to censor websites.
Netblocks said that Cuba is currently acting just as rigorously against government critics on the Internet as it was in November 2020, when there were demonstrations in Havana for more artistic freedom.