The Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH), a non-governmental organization that tracks detentions on the island, documented over 1,000 disappearances or arrests in Cuba between July 11, the day nationwide protests began on the island, and August 1.
The July 11 protests triggered a global rallying cry for international action to end the 62-year-old Castro regime, which continues to maintain a stranglehold on the island despite attempts to portray President Miguel Díaz-Canel as a new leader distinct from the Castro family rulers embedded in the Communist Party’s most powerful military positions. The protests themselves, occurring in as many as 40 different municipalities across the country, were the largest Cuba has experienced in years and followed extensive civil society organizing by various pro-democracy groups since at least the 2003 “Black Spring” crackdown.
While the July 11 protests were, by all accounts, overwhelmingly peaceful, Cuban authorities responded by deploying state security and its repressive “black beret” special forces to conduct mass arrests, open fire on crowds of dissidents, and perform public beatings to scare anyone considering joining the movement. Díaz-Canel also appeared on television on the night of July 11 issuing an “order of combat” to civilians sympathetic with the regime, encouraging them to physically attack anyone they considered may support the protests.
Dissidents on the island have described the nearly three weeks since the July 11 protests as intensely violent. The “black beret” forces have conducted door-to-door raids looking for suspected protesters in nearly every major city and shot protesters in their own homes. The legal system is so overwhelmed, according to the NGO Cuban Prisoners Defenders, that courts are processing and sentencing as many as 30 people at once with no regard for differences in their cases and, in many cases, not granting them access to an attorney. – READ MORE