As in all the key moments of the Cuban Revolution, the response to the challenges this time also has come from the massive participation of the Cuban people. Since the early hours of the morning of July 17, Havana’s Malecon was filled with a crowd with slogans “Down with the Yankees!”, “We were born to win and not to be defeated!”, as people came out in support of the call for “revolutionary reaffirmation” proposed by the Cuban government a week after the beginning of the media offensive unleashed after protests over the economic situation on the island took place last Sunday.
There is “an overflowing hatred in the social media,” denounced Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, and “what the world is seeing of Cuba is a lie”, he assured. The Cuban government “is not a government that represses its people,” the president affirmed. But “no lie has arisen by chance or by mistake, everything is coldly calculated in a manual of unconventional warfare,” he added.
He also said that what happened “will be reviewed in the light of the possible mistakes that could have been made, especially in the last two years of intense pressures,” when the United States multiplied economic sanctions on Cuba in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“In defense of the Cuban Revolution, we are engaging in a political-cultural act on Havana’s Malecon, together with the people, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, First Secretary of the PCC, Miguel Díaz-Canel and other leaders of the PCC, the government and mass organizations,” announced the Cuban government’s Twitter account at the beginning of the rally.
“What the world is seeing from Cuba is a lie,” Diaz-Cabel said about the dissemination of “false images” on social networks, which “encourage and glorify indignation and destruction of property.”
A la explanada de La Piragua, en el malecón capitalino, acude #Hoy una representación del pueblo de #LaHabana, con el cumplimiento de las medidas higiénico-sanitarias, para reclamar el levantamiento del bloqueo de #EEUU y el cese de los intentos de desestabilización#CubaViva 🇨🇺 pic.twitter.com/WFRZguRdPs
— Presidencia Cuba (@PresidenciaCuba) July 17, 2021
“We were born to win and not to be defeated!” shouted the crowd, which the Cuban government estimated in the thousands, that began to convene early in the morning, through workplaces and universities, on Havana’s Malecon. Alongside Díaz-Canel was Raúl Castro, 90.
“Anyone who feels for the Revolution, who has felt for Fidel, who has felt for what has been done in this country and what must continue to be done, knows what Raul’s presence there means,” said Carlos Cruz, a 65-year-old retiree.
According to the official newspaper Granma, events were also organized in other cities of the country such as Santiago de Cuba, Bayamo, Camagüey and Santa Clara. These rallies are taking place as Cuba is at its worst moment of the pandemic, although still far from the numbers of the United States.
On July 16, Havana registered 763 new infections, one of the highest records since the beginning of the health crisis caused by the coronavirus.
“They have thrown everything at us and, worst of all, they have wanted to divide us,” said Gerardo Hernández, deputy of the National Assembly and another of the speakers at the event. Hernández, the national coordinator of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), is considered a hero in Cuba, as he is one of the five Cuban agents imprisoned for years in the United States accused of espionage, and who was returned to the island thanks to a prisoner exchange agreement in 2014.
The leader said that among the Cubans who took to the streets to demonstrate on July 11, there were people with legitimate concerns and problems, and he assured that they can count on the Revolution.
“The duty of revolutionaries is to approach those people, even those who may think differently, and listen to them, talk, find common ground,” he emphasized.
However, Hernández also referred to the hate campaign unleashed against the Caribbean nation, and added that unity is the target because they know that throughout our history it was unity that has allowed Cuba to “overcome all crises and move forward.”
The act of “revolutionary reaffirmation” was the massive response to the protests held last weekend, the largest since the Maleconazo of August 5, 1994. The anti-government demonstrations reflected the difficult economic and social situation the country is going through in the midst of the pandemic, which paralyzed the entire tourism sector, fundamental for the income of foreign currency, and the reinforcement of the blockade decided by Donald Trump and still in force under Joe Biden.
Mobile Internet access was cut on the island from Sunday noon to Wednesday morning, before being restored but in an unstable manner. To the claim that the cut was due to the start of the protests, Cuba responded that its servers were damaged by a cyber-attack launched on July 11.
President Díaz-Canel also condemned the cyber-attacks on news portals such as that of the presidency, as well as the website of Granma newspaper and Cubadebate media. Even the official website of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Cubaminrex, was out of service for a while. ”They are trying to silence any alternative to the anti-Cuban narrative that is being displayed today on alarmist front pages,” decried the president. ”Friends of Cuba, who know and suffer the manipulation and silence, cannot access Cuban media and have reported to us about access denial.”
”We will achieve what we set out to do by working together,” asserted the Cuban head of state. ”We have before us the immense example of Cuban science, which proposed and achieved in record time and with hardly any resources two vaccines and other vaccine candidates that allow us to face the future with hopes that many other countriies do not have,” he added.
Featured image: Demonstration in Havana in support of the Cuban Revolution. Photo: Twitter / @PresidenciaCuba
(Resumen Latinoamericano – English) with additional translation by Orinoco Tribune