Cuba reopens doorways to tourism as menace of protests looms


HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba reopened colleges and its borders to worldwide tourism on Monday as opposition teams urged supporters to protest for better political freedoms, establishing a tense showdown between the federal government and its critics on the Caribbean island.

Dissidents have for months known as on social media for a “Civic March for Change” following road protests in July, the biggest on the island in a long time.

Cuba’s communist authorities has banned Monday’s deliberate demonstrations, saying they’re a part of a destabilization marketing campaign by the USA, which maintains a Chilly Battle-era embargo on Cuba. U.S. officers have denied that.

Residents throughout the island reported no main rallies as of noon native time, however dissidents continued calls on social media to launch protests at 3 p.m. (2000 GMT) in 10 cities throughout Cuba, from the capital Havana to Pinar del Rio and Guantanamo.

In Havana there was a notable enhance of plain-clothed and uniformed police, although streets appeared quieter than regular as some mother and father saved their children house.

“I made a decision to maintain my 6-year-old house from his first day in school as a result of I used to be nervous that one thing may occur,” state employee Jennifer Puyol Vendesia stated.

Demonstrations deliberate on Sunday by a Fb group known as Archipielago, which has led the decision for protests, fizzled out

Authorities supporters on Sunday surrounded the house in Havana of Yunior Garcia, a playwright and Archipielago chief. That prevented him from marching alone, as he had deliberate, to attract help for peaceable marches.

Neither Garcia nor his spouse answered their telephones on Monday. Garcia’s neighborhood was quiet, and his constructing was nonetheless draped with Cuban flags that authorities supporters had hung from the rooftop the day earlier than, based on a Reuters witness.

Garcia and others had requested Cubans to clap in help of their motion Sunday afternoon, and to bang pots within the night, however residents of Havana and a number of other provincial cities stated their neighborhoods remained quiet.

Dissidents are once more calling on Cubans to bang pots on Monday at 8 p.m.

The timing of the protests – the identical day tourism and colleges are set to reopen following the pandemic – touched a nerve with the federal government.

State safety and teams of pro-government supporters staked out the properties of high-profile dissidents from early Monday, based on rights teams and stories on social media.

On Monday morning, Saily Gonzalez, one other Archipielago leaders, posted on Fb a video that appeared to point out authorities supporters gathering exterior her Santa Clara house. Within the video, the group, some wearing crimson in help of the federal government, known as her a traitor and warned her towards marching. Gonzalez yelled again, telling them she would march regardless of their threats.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday condemned “intimidation techniques” by Cuba’s authorities forward of the deliberate march and vowed Washington would search “accountability” for the crackdown.

“We name on the Cuban authorities to respect Cubans’ rights, by permitting them to peacefully assemble… and by holding Web and telecommunication traces open,” Blinken stated within the assertion.

Cuban International Minister Bruno Rodriguez responded on Twitter, telling the USA to remain out of Cuban affairs.

Eunice Pulles, wearing a white shirt on a Havana road to point out her help for the dissident motion, stated she thought most can be too intimidated by police and authorities supporters to hitch her in protest.

“There might be no protests as a result of the persons are scared that we are going to be repressed,” she stated.

(Reporting by Marc Frank and Nelson Acosta in Havana, enhancing by Dave Sherwood and Rosalba O’Brien)

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