Illustration Credit: Pat Bagley, Cagle Cartoons
Cuban activists had planned a national “Civic March for Change” for Monday, November 15, but the government moved in advance to quell the protest.
Demonstrators stayed off the streets as police and state security agents prevented them from leaving their homes. The standoff comes four months after the last major protest in Cuba, when thousands of Cubans marched for food, medicine, and an increase in political freedom. The July demonstrations were the largest anti-government protest in Cuba since 1994.
A well known organizer of the protest, 39-year-old playwright Yunior García Aguilera, had to stay at home when plainclothes officers stood outside his building. When García tried to signal to journalists from his window holding a white rose—a symbol of the protest—officers draped a large Cuban flag over the building, blocking his window. García fled to Spain on Wednesday. To further deter protesters, the governments delivered harsh prison sentences for those who participated in the July demonstrations and made sporadic arrests around the country last week.
The U.S. State Department called on Cuban authorities to allow people to protest. Latin American governments have taken different positions along ideological lines. While President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico blamed the U.S. embargo for the current situation, leaders in Chile and Peru echoed the United States’ message toward Havana.