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Yunior García has become the face of the new generation of Cuban dissidents. Photo: Getty Images
Yunior García has become the face of the new generation of Cuban dissidents. Photo: Getty Images

What's happened with the 15-N protests in Cuba?

The Cuban government repressed the protests that were planned for Nov. 15.

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A new day of protests was planned for this Monday, Nov. 15, in Cuba. Weeks ago, activists called citizens to the streets to demonstrate against the regime, however, due to police pressure, the demonstrations were practically null. 

Opposition leaders were expressly forbidden to leave their homes and were under strict police surveillance. The same happened to independent journalists and even accredited journalists from EFE, the Spanish press agency, and their accreditations were withdrawn, which allow them to work as communicators on the island. 

Although protests are forbidden in the country, last July 11, there were numerous demonstrations in different cities in what for experts and observers seemed to see as a rebirth of the opposition in the country in spite of the repression. Against this backdrop, young activists decided to call for Nov. 15's demonstration. 

One of the leaders has been the 39 year old playwright, Yunior García Aguilera, leader of the 'Archipiélago' platform — where the mobilization against the government and the release of political prisoners was planned. During the July demonstrations alone, 1,270 people were arrested, 658 of whom remain in prison, according to the NGO Cubalex.

In view of the repressive measures that were increasing as the day of the protest drew nearer, organizers decided not to hold marches with a route, but to invite people to hold symbolic demonstrations such as pot-banging or to arrive at the squares and monuments of the national heroes dressed in white to leave floral offerings and even to turn off the TV and not tune in to the national news during this week. 

However, during the day, the situation in Havana was apparently calm although the presence of police in the streets and the meeting points of the protests, such as the Malecon, was notorious. The government has not only resorted to repression to stop the mobilization, while the promoters mobilized on social networks, the government discredited the growing movement saying it was sponsored by the United States. Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez pointed out that Monday was a festive day for the return of children to schools and the reopening of the country to international tourism, and further noted that the day of protest "has been a resounding failure." 

Cuba from abroad

Although here was no space for the demonstration in Cuba, in cities such as Madrid and Buenos Aires, hundreds of people gathered to protest against the Cuban government and in solidarity with opposition leaders. In addition, the Americas director of Human Rights Watch, Jose Miguel Vivanco, expressed his concern about what is happening on the island.

"Many journalists and critics are under siege in their homes. Some have been detained," he noted via Twitter.

In spite of everything, analysts and observers believe that a movement is brewing in Cuba against the regime led by a new generation that did not live the dream of the revolution, but was born and grew up amid its negative consequences and deprivations. The fact that many of its leaders come from the arts and the intelligentsia also marks a difference with other generations of opponents in the country. 

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