Three years ago on November 27, 2020, a group of young artists and intellectuals from the San Isidro Movement publicly challenged the Castro dictatorship’s Ministry of Culture. They demanded the right to freely express themselves without State interference, something unheard of in communist Cuba. The Castro regime attempted to placate them with the intention of later quashing the movement, but the dictatorship was unable to do either.
On this day three years ago, hundreds of artists and academics openly challenged the Ministry of Culture, and officials agreed to talk but later reneged
Despite the Castro regime’s best efforts to shut down and demolish the San Isidro protest, the dictatorship ended up with a much larger problem than 14 protesters in a humble home in Havana’s San Isidro neighborhood.
Young people, mostly artists and academics, began assembling in front of the Ministry of Culture throughout the day on November 27, 2020, and their numbers continued to swell into the evening, asking that the Minister meet with the demonstrators to negotiate terms for a dialogue.
On a more positive note, a solidarity rally would be conducted on December 3, 2020, at the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC, with poetry read in tribute to activists on the island. On a more positive note, Maykel Castillo, the last of the hunger strikers, would conclude his strike on November 30, 2020.
Thirty representatives elected by the hundreds present walked in and talked with the officials, emerging with a pledge to dialogue and consideration of the protesters’ views. Meanwhile, the dictatorship dispatched truckloads of plainclothes security to surround and intimidate the demonstrators. They then blocked access to the Ministry of Culture and began using tear gas and physical force to prevent others from joining the demonstrators. Instead of engaging in dialogue to resolve the differences that sparked the protests, the regime launched a media offensive against the San Isidro Movement and the protestors. Havana’s autocrats have reason to be concerned. The protests and the protesters’ demands have received international attention.
Consider that on November 26, 2020, at 8 p.m., the Castro regime shut down internet and cell phone traffic, just before raiding the San Isidro Movement headquarters, and network data from the NetBlocks Internet Observatory confirmed a wider and sustained “partial disruption to social media and streaming platforms in Cuba between Friday 27 November 2020 and Monday 30 November 2020.” The difficulties are likely to hinder the flow of information from Cuba that has been independently verified. The event occurred after three days of limited service and coincides with protests in Havana by an organization advocating for cultural rights.” Twitter and WhatsApp were impacted.
On November 27, 2020, the independent journal Diario de Cuba merged together various recordings from the day before’s raid on the San Isidro headquarters and posted it on Youtube. Regime officials stated that the raid was carried out because of COVID-19 concerns, although the persons masquerading as doctors did not behave like doctors, and the mob that assembled outside to shout revolutionary slogans without mask coverings did not comply with pandemic regulations. Nor did releasing the majority of the San Isidro activists within hours of their arrest at their respective homes.
Despite the communication breakdown and the deception surrounding the attack on the San Isidro Movement headquarters, the truth about what was going on came out and was communicated among many Cubans who wanted to display their solidarity with action.
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