The bells of freedom are ringing again in Cuba

The sound of pots banging and people shouting slogans calling for the end of communist oppression and tyranny in Cuba may be the bells of freedom ringing again in Cuba.

Omar Lopez Montenegro explains in Diario de Cuba:

The Bells Are Ringing Again

The regime’s days are numbered: blackouts and protests, increasingly original and daring, have become everyday events in Cuba.

On Thursday, May 30, young people from the José Martí district, in the city of Santiago de Cuba, staged a unique protest taking the form of a conga march touring different neighborhoods in the populous city, the country’s second most important, singing refrains that called for “electricity” and “food.” The demonstration toured three very poor neighborhoods of the city —Indaya, Barca de Oro and Nuevo Vista Alegre— before being broken up by forces that included the use of Red Berets (special army troops). The events were widely covered on social media, with photos and videos capturing what happened.

A day earlier, on Wednesday 29, residents of Camino de La Habana, in Sancti Spíritus, banged pots and pans in the middle of the street shouting the same slogans of “electricity” and “food,” which has become another hallmark of spontaneous, consensual protest across the Island. Asking for his identity to be withheld, one resident told the independent press that “people went out onto the streets, it wasn’t inside the houses. Even the old men went out with their pots and spoons… It was very exciting, because they were arresting people, but those of us who were left kept beating our pots. We weren’t afraid because they couldn’t stop us all… My neighbors realized they couldn’t load the entire town in that police truck.” Another local said that at her workplace, her boss told her that “it was impressive: the police were patrolling the area and people wouldn’t get out of the way, in the middle of the street; they were testing them with their pots… He says that he didn’t leave his house because he was afraid of losing his job, but that he beat his pot in his yard.” The next day the electricity was restored and the people of Spiritist enjoyed 24 hours without any blackouts.

Blackouts and protests, increasingly original and daring, have become an everyday part of the Cuban reality. On May 18, Father Alberto Reyes the parish priest at the Iglesia de Esmeralda in the province of Camagüey, rang the bells of his parish 30 times, slowly, as a sign of mourning, during one of the frequent blackouts that have racked the island in recent years. In a message posted on social media, the priest explained that the bells were tolled against the “agonizing death of our freedom and our rights, the suffocation and sinking of our lives,” and announced that he would repeat the ringing every time there was a blackout. He also urged Cubans to engage in gestures of “peaceful resistance,” such as abandoning official institutions, removing posters in favor of the system in private homes, educating their children in “the rejection of duplicity” and using “whatever ways one can find.” A day later the Archbishop of Camagüey, Wilfredo Pino, forbade him to continue with his initiative. In response to questions from Radio Martí, Monsignor Pino explained that he had called Father Reyes on Sunday, May 19. “I told him that, for the sake of the Church, and for his own, I was forbidding him from ringing the bell during blackouts,” the prelate said in a somewhat cryptic statement that can be interpreted in different ways.

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