Video: Protesters in Cuba Chant 'We Want Freedom' in Regime Mob's Faces

Video: Protesters in Cuba Chant 'We Want Freedom' in Regime Mob's Faces

An attempted communist “act of repudiation” failed in Cuba on Monday at the home of the family of political prisoner Andy García Lorenzo, where his family took the opportunity to sing protest songs and chant in the faces of its would-be repressors.

García, 23, is among the estimated thousands arrested on July 11, a day during which human rights groups believe nearly 200,000 people on the island took the streets to demand an end to the 62-year-old communist regime there. The Castro dictatorship responded to widespread peaceful protests with disproportionate violence, engaging in public beatings, arrests, and shootings of suspected dissidents – and even witnesses to the protests – in the aftermath of the event.

Anti-communist dissidents called for a second wave of nationwide protests on Monday, November 15, prompting the regime to organize “acts of repudiation” in front of the homes of known dissident organizers. An “act of repudiation” is a mob attack on someone’s home in which a group of thugs surrounds the location, shouts insults at the person, and often hurls garbage or other projectiles at the “counter-revolutionary” in question.

In a video from Santa Clara, Cuba, on Monday, a throng of red-shirted communists can be seen surrounding the home of García’s family. The family responded by organizing outside and dressing in white – the color anti-communists have adopted as a symbol against the regime and for peace – addressing the mob.

The family appears with musical instruments, chanting pro-freedom slogans and singing the anti-communist pop song “Queremos Libertad” (“We Want Freedom”) by Cuban reggaetón artist Jacob Forever. The lyrics include the phrase, “join us, police officer, for freedom” – an invitation to the mob to abandon their act of repudiation.

The family included García’s young siblings and elderly grandfather, who joined the protest in a wheelchair.

According to local sources, García’s sister, Roxana García Lorenzo, initially shared a live video in which the communist mob can be seen hurling insults and revolutionary slogans at their home. The video shows a crowd of dozens of red-shirted people waving the flag of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs), localized civilian espionage units that the Castro regime uses to suppress dissent. Acts of repudiation in front of the home in central Cuba have reportedly been ongoing since Sunday.

Acto de repudio a la familia de Andy García Lorenzo en Santa Clara, #15NCubapic.twitter.com/jOzZDFnRHv

— Mario J. Pentón (@MarioJPenton) November 14, 2021

The CDRs are currently led by Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, a former top Cuban spy arrested for his role in the murder of four American citizens in the 1990s – freed by President Barack Obama and returning home to a hero’s welcome and a top job in the regime.

Hernández called for local CDRs to intimidate and persecute known dissidents in their neighborhoods in early November in anticipation of Monday’s protests.

“They underestimate the revolutionary people who, despite the fact that we know we have problems, that we have to resolve them, we don’t want the peace that we count on in our streets to be robbed from us,” Hernández said at the time. “[That] citizen’s calm that we have enjoyed for over 60 years … we are going to defend that at the price that is necessary.”

In anticipation of Monday’s protests, regime agents surrounded the homes of known dissidents and placed independent journalists under house arrest. The regime also attempted, but failed, to expel journalists with Spain’s EFE newswire service. Dissidents documented dozens of acts of harassment, including many “acts of repudiation” over the weekend in an attempt to stop the protests from happening.

Protests occurred on Monday, anyway. In a significant difference from July 11, when protests appeared largely without leadership or organization, many of the peaceful marches on Monday were reportedly led by nuns and priests of the Catholic Church.

🔴 Sacerdotes católicos caminan por el Boulevard y Prado este #15NCubapic.twitter.com/j9QxBgakcF

— Victor M. Dueñas (@VictorDuenasCU) November 15, 2021

Los sacerdotes, pastores y monjas catolicos han salido a las calles para acompañar al pueblo totalmente de blanco #15NCuba#Cuba. pic.twitter.com/QavXePyETa

— MDMCuba (@MDMCuba) November 15, 2021

The Castro regime has severely persecuted Christians for decades. While local clergy has often stood by the counter-revolutionary movement, the Vatican has done little to confront the Castro regime, choosing engagement instead under at least three different popes.

Andy Duniel García Lorenzo is facing seven years in prison for his peaceful participation in July’s protests. Among the crimes prosecutors are accusing him of are “disrespect” – a catch-all used to imprison anti-communist dissidents – and “public disorder.” The dissident outlet Cubanet, citing witnesses in his family, say that prior to his arrest García received a brutal beating at the hands of state security agents and did not resist or fight back. He is facing a group trial with 15 other people.
As García faces a joint trial with so many other people, Cubanet noted, it is not entirely clear where his alleged crimes end and those of others begin.

“Along with Andy García Lorenzo, there appear five others being processed, the majority of them young people, accused of crimes like ‘public disorder,’ ‘disrespect,’ ‘assault,’ ‘resistance,’ and ‘sexual assault,'” Cubanet reported. The regime reportedly charged others on dubious allegations of violating Chinese coronavirus sanitary protocol. The regime presented social media posts against communism, the outlet noted, as evidence for the crimes.

García held a ten-day hunger strike in October but, ill-prepared to endure such a rigorous protest in prison, ceased the strike at the behest of friends and family, who noted that mass protests were scheduled to occur against on November 15.

Human rights groups have denounced the Castro communist regime for staging mass trials and offering “summary judgments” sentencing peaceful protesters to years in jail. In some instances, the sentenced were not protesting at all but police arrested them for being near the vicinity of a protest on July 11. Many are believed to be minors. Human rights groups state that 85 percent of those known to be in police custody over the protests have no prior criminal record.

Cuban Prisoners Defenders, an NGO that specializes in documenting abuses in the country against dissidents, reported evidence in late July of the Castro regime holding mass trials for as many as 30 people at the same time.

“The summary ‘trials,’ with no lawyers or possible defense, are happening simultaneously in numbers of ten accused at a time, and we have even had knowledge of cases of 30 accused [processed] simultaneously,” the organization denounced.

Cuban Prisoners Defenders revealed that the number of confirmed political prisoners in Cuba increased 400 percent between November 2020 and October 2021 on the back of mass persecution following July 11. The group noted that this only represented dissidents known to be in police custody – 683 of them – and not the total number of political prisoners in Cuba, estimated to be in the thousands.

Immediate estimates following July 11 suggested that the regime imprisoned and disappeared over 5,000 that day. Human rights groups reported that an estimated 187,000 people participated in nationwide peaceful protests against communism that day.

Archipelago, a group of alleged dissidents who called for protests on Monday, issued a statement on Tuesday asking Cubans to remain in the streets calling for an end to the regime through at least November 27.

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Frances Martel