Tension in Cuba as Anniversary of July 11 Protests Nears
The government deploys uniformed officers and state employees
The second anniversary of the widespread protests of July 11, 2021, is approaching and police maneuvers are increasingly visible in Cuba. Rancho Boyeros avenue, which connects the Jose Marti International Airport with the center of Havana, is one of the most controlled streets. Surveillance is carried out by uniformed police and trucks full of soldiers, to employees of the Customs and Immigration office.
Early Sunday morning the deployment was visible, with surveillance posts every 300 meters along the so-called Avenida de la Independencia, as 14ymedio was able to verify. “They are going to look for them at the airport and each one has to do a shift of several hours,” said a taxi driver who identified a senior Immigration official stationed on a corner.
Despite the almost non-existent traffic of vehicles and people at that time of the morning, groups of two or three people, in some cases accompanied by a police patrol, alternated along the road. In the surroundings of the Sports City, the deployment was even greater and included a truck with uniformed people.
Surveillance in the streets, explains the driver, began to be noticed “since last week and is a priority” for the authorities. “They have told the airport employees that there is information that the counterrevolution is going to try to destabilize the country and that this time it will not be during the day, like July 11 , but at night.”
“No worker likes to do this, because they come looking for them, they leave them on a corner and they have to spend hours there, the same in the sun or the dark and scaring away the mosquitoes. People are not happy at all, but Nobody says no,” he admits. Surveillance shifts also interfere with work at the air terminal. “There are not one or two people, there are times when they take a significant part of the staff.”
Meetings have also been held in other state workplaces to warn employees that “you have to keep your guard up” these days, according to testimonies that this newspaper has been able to collect from entities such as the commercial corporation Cimex managed by the military, the National Library and the shops that sell in hard currency.
In the market located at Boyeros and Camagüey Streets, where products are sold in the magnetic dollars, workers have been informed that “provocations are expected” and that this type of store, which has generated much criticism since its inception, is “the first trench to defend the people’s assets,” said a local employee who preferred to remain anonymous.
“They are scared,” says the employee of the Boyeros and Camagüey market. “Because the situation is worse than two years ago, and people are more upset.”
“They told us that we have to be prepared and that the situations of that July 11 cannot happen again, that we have to defend the market and not let any provocateurs in.” The worker assures that the indications were received with “indifference” and that “the store is so stripped of merchandise that I don’t know why people would want to enter to take anything.”
The precaution has also been reinforced around the ministries, the Parque de la Fraternidad, the Havana Capitol building and other points where the popular protests were more intense two years ago, such as Galiano street, various areas of the Cerro and Diez de Octubre municipalities, especially near the corner of Toyo, where protesters overturned a police car.
“They are scared,” says the employee of Boyeros and Camagüey. “Because the situation is worse than two years ago, and people are more upset.” To curb this popular discontent, the ruling Communist Party seems determined to militarize the country. “They don’t want to be surprised again” like on 11J, says the man.