Cuba: The November 15th March, Homemade or Imported?

By Marcos Maranges on October 31, 2021, from Havana

Havana Libre, photo: Ismael Francisco

One of the most popular issues in Cuba right now is the so called November 15th march. However, not everything seems to be exactly clear about it. First of all who are the ones organizing it? And what are their told and real objectives? These and other questions are not clear yet. However, there are some facts that can help us to understand the depth and the origins of this issue.

The march was announced on September 21, after a group of 15 people delivered an authorization request for a march to the Old Havana’s city hall, something that was replicated in over 5 Cuban provinces. The organizers declared they will march against violence, and to demand freedom for those arrested on July 11. The march proposal came from a Facebook group named “Archipelago” whose main voice is the theater screenplay writer Yunior Garcia, who is very well-known for openly criticizing the government through his plays; but curiously, he has never suffered the censorship he is fighting against.

On October 12, all requests were denied by the local governments arguing that the march was part of a regime change strategy, which is clearly stated as illegal in the Cuban Constitution. So, how is a pro-freedom of speech and anti-violence march be labeled as a regime change project?  Well, the answer is not simple and needs a review of Archipelago’s genesis.

The group was allegedly created as a space for people to debate on the important issues of the country’s daily life, some of which were rarely addressed by the local media. But, since the digital universe erases all State’s borders, Cubans living abroad and political exiles started to poison the debate inside the group with open anticommunist and regime change ideas, even reaching hate speeches sometimes. At that point the group was no more a space for open debate, but rather a platform for the Cuban internal and external opposition, dressed like a citizenship’s initiative, to mask their real intentions.

The public speech of the group and its main spokesperson, Yunior Garcia is persuasive and uses several emotional resorts that work very well in Cuba. Taking advantage of the current economic situation of the Caribbean Island, Yunior carefully built his speech around the word “change”, while deliberately hiding the direction of this change. If we look around, we can see former Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri using the same modern, empty and vague speech to reach the presidency.

Argentina did not change for the better, but wasn’t it foreseeable? Of course, it was. People only had to look and Macri’s record and his neo liberal credentials in order to realize what was the change about. Let’s do the same with Yunior.

After announcing the 15N march, the Cuban exile, whose most toxic members live in Florida and Spain, assumed the protest in their agendas. Suddenly, they started talking everyday about Archipelago and the march, and their media became a full barrage of coverage to any action or words from Yunior and his followers regardless of its real significance.

At the same time, many organizations, which historically have constantly searched for any regime change project in Cuba are supporting the march. They have launched campaigns to encourage Cubans to take part in the march, while calling for civil disobedience action in the country. All these organization are curiously funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which allocated almost $7 million to fund over 12 projects aiming to a regime change in Cuba. Let’s see some clarifying examples.

Digital News Association, which owns a web TV channel and a news website called ADN Cuba, got over $600,000 to work on it in the next year, and it is one of the most active supporters of the 15N march. Next on the list is the Cuban Democratic Directorate, whose head Orlando Gutierrez Boronat was one of the most active actors demanding a US-led “humanitarian intervention” in Cuba after the 11J protests. This NGO got $650,000 for a project targeting the Cuban tourism sector, an essential part of the Cuban economy. In the same line, Cubanet got over $400,000 for a similar purpose. This organization has a key role in the communication war against the Cuban government with a news website called “Cubanos por el Mundo” and the Alex Otaola’s YouTube program. Moreover, the USAID allocated between $500,000 and $1 million to the International Republican Institute, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and Outreach Aid to the Americas for subversion in Cuba through the most diverse ways.

But it has gone even further than the funneling of millions of USAID dollars to this regime change project. The Biden Administration through Juan Gonzalez, a top adviser on Latin America, is now openly cheering on the N15 protests in the most blatant interventionist way by publicly announcing that the US would respond if any of the protestors were jailed.

Yunior has publicly tried to take distance from all of this, in an attempt to avoid the discredit it could mean for most Cubans. He has also denied receiving funds from any foreign agency or institution, but through Archipelago he has called for international support to the march. Perhaps the most revealing fact is a recent leaked call between Yunior and Ramon Saul Sanchez. This guy is a Cuban exile, who has been member of various Florida-based terrorist and violent anti-Cuban organizations like Alpha 66 and Omega 7, which are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Cubans. During the call, Yunior mentioned he was really thankful to the exile support to the march. Moreover, he recently admitted he held a meeting with the head of the US Embassy in Havana’s, as well as his attendance to some National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and USAID fundraising events or conferences.

Is all this casual? Certainly not, and it would be naïve to think that way. If we look at this through a narrow prism, it could be possible to conclude that the 15N march is a homemade initiative from a Cuban citizens’ group, but there are too many signals to ignore the truth behind it.

Getting to this point, it is also important to make a difference between the origin and the acceptance of Yunior speech. Of course, it has found ears among a some sectors of the society, mostly young people, because it was meant to do so. Nevertheless, it does not change the fact that it is a foreign strategy, aiming to capitalize Cubans’ unhappiness against their government, while taking their eyes off of the over sixty year old blockade of our country.

Yunior may be the director of this theater play called 15N march, but this time, he is not the one who wrote the screenplay.

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – English