Fourteen NGOs expressed this Wednesday their “concern about the growing climate of hostility, abuses and arbitrary arrests” in Cuba, which has lived several days with peaceful protests as a result of a widespread blackout resulting from the passage of Hurricane Ian.
The organizations – among which are Justicia 11J, Cubalex, Artists at Risk Connection, the Cuban Institute for Freedom of Expression and the Press and Article 19 – criticized in a statement the use of “extreme violence” against protesters by agents and armed civilians.
“The intimidation and physical violence exerted towards those who demonstrated in recent days is inadmissible. We denounce the use of extreme violence against demonstrators, artists, cultural managers, activists and other people who took to the streets to exercise their right to freedom of expression and assembly,” the text states.
Militares vestidos de civil golpean a mujeres en las protestas pro-LIBERTAD en Cuba. #CubaPaLaCalle #SOSCUBA🇨🇺 @CUBADECIDE #CambioDeSistema— Rosa María Payá A. (@RosaMariaPaya) October 3, 2022
3 fotos que resumen lo que significa para el pueblo cubano, para la mujer cubana, 63 años de Revolución Comunista👇 pic.twitter.com/sLDQZNaNX9
They also denounced “the recurrent use of personnel belonging to formal security corporations and the irruption of armed people dressed in civilian clothes to repress those who protest.”
The signatories also stressed that the interruption of the internet service on the island for two consecutive nights with protests “constitutes an attack on the right of the Cuban population to be informed about events and to broadcast their content freely.”
Hurricane Ian crossed the western end of Cuba on September 27 causing great destruction with intense rains and winds of more than 200 kilometers per hour.
The dictatorship plunged into a crisis without a solution took this as an excuse and caused a total blackout on the island, a situation that slowly and progressively reversed over the following days. The current has already returned to most of the country, although there are still damages in the areas most affected by Ian.
The lack of power, for five consecutive days in some places, was the trigger for the demonstrations and the main complaint in the sit-ins and cacerolazos. The independent media Project Inventory has identified 55 protests in recent days, 48 of them in Havana.
All the protests were repressed by the police and other State security forces. In some cases, civilians violently confronted peaceful protesters.
The Justice 11J collective has recorded 28 arrests, of which 20 remain under arrest. At least two, according to this initiative, were “brutally beaten.”