ORLANDO, Fla. – Protestors in Cuba said hundreds of Cubans on the island are expected to hold a peaceful march to demand their government for basic human rights and needs on Nov. 15.
The march comes four months after the historic July 11 protests which the world saw--when demonstrators were detained after demanding freedom and better treatment by the government amidst the pandemic.
“It will be crucial for the Cuban government to recognize and understand that they are being watched not just by a few but by the world,” Marcos Marchena, a Cuban refugee in Orlando said.
Marchena who left the communist island when he was 12 years old, said all eyes will be on the island on Nov. 15 when demonstrators march the streets, just a few months after the historic protests on July 11th when people took to the streets to demand greater freedoms and economic conditions -- the largest demonstration to take place in Cuba since the 1959 revolution.
“July 11 was a turning point in the situation in Cuba,” Marchena said.
It was that turning point that motivated opposition leaders on the island to unite as one group now known on Facebook as Archipiélago-led by playwright and protest leader, Yunior García.
“What they are asking for is the liberation of political prisoners, that there be a democracy and their rights be respected,” Julio Herrera, a member of Archipiélago said via zoom from his home in Cuba. Herrera said he believes the Nov. 15 march will make a change but it will not be on that day. He said the fight will have to continue and conditions for them will worsen.
“There are no legal ways for citizens to promote changes in a democratic way, in a peaceful way. There is no democracy in Cuba. It has been shown that Cuba is what some refuse to recognize but it’s clearer than water, a dictatorship,” Yunior García said on October 12, a few days after his petition for a peaceful march was rejected by Cuban officials.
“This response, which is now official, shows the most conservative and hard-line powers in Cuba have won. We know there are divisions within the leadership. We know some are already fed up with Cuba behaving like a Goliath, because supposedly, before the world, it pretends to be like David confronting the empire with the embargo and all that matters. But here, domestically, Cuba behaves like an abusive Goliath against its own citizens,” he said.
Juan Pappier, a senior researcher with the international non-governmental organization, Human Rights Watch, spoke with News 6 and said if there is no international pressure on the Cuban government, then it’s sending a message to the Cuban regime that it can get away with suppressing its people.
“We expect the Cuban government to suppress the demonstration. The real question here is what the international community is going to do about it? We need a coordinated from the international community, and that means the United States, it means the European Union and it means governments in Latin America,” Pappier said.
Already more than 100 cities in the United States and in other countries have joined in support of the Cuban community and will be holding rallies ahead of the Nov. 15t march. In Orlando, a march is set for Sunday, Nov. 14 at a Sedano’s supermarket on Curry Ford Road.
“The more countries say: No, you are truly a dictatorship you are a tyrannical dictatorship and they say we are not gonna do business with you, we are not going to extend your loans, we are not going to travel to your country, the more difficult it becomes for the Cuban regime,” Marchena said.