On July 14 of last year, in a reflection titled “Cuba’s Tiananmen,” I reported on the monster protests that rocked the entire island of Cuba on July 11, 2021. I followed up on November 13 with a Reflection titled “People Power,” reporting on the demonstration’s fallout — both the government’s response and the Cuban people’s takeaway — of that unprecedented groundswell of resistance to the Castro-Diaz Canel dictatorship.
Well, for Cubans everywhere, July 11 has now joined the pantheon of unforgettable, touchstone, never-to-be-erased dates, along with May 20 (Independence Day), July 26 (Revolution Day), November 9 (Fall of the Berlin Wall), December 24 (Noche Buena), and many others. It is called simply 11J.
As I previously reported, the Cuban government passed “Decree-Law 35 and Resolution 105, further restricting what few rights of expression already exist on the island by more explicitly legalizing the repressive organs’ power to censor, to harass, to preemptively detain individuals who might participate in peaceful demonstrations, and to legitimize trials without due process — all practices in which they already indulge, but to which they have now given a veneer of legality.”
For Cubans everywhere, July 11 has now joined the pantheon of unforgettable, touchstone, never-to-be-erased dates.
But today I’m happy to report that the Cuban people’s ingenuity has risen to the challenge. Can’t have big political rallies? How about localized and frequent rallies for trifling causes? The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) reports on a new strategy for citizens to express their dissatisfaction in ways that don’t fall foul of the law, but which everyone knows have a hidden subtext. “The regime finds itself in a vicious circle, or worse yet, in a descending spiral that is forcing the confluence of pro-change agendas” with apolitical objectives that are profoundly antisystem. “The system’s monopoly over the citizens’ discourse has fallen like a castle built of playing cards and has been effectively retarded by quotidian acts of resistance, like the march on the Day of the Dog.”
On April 10, a procession began to the historic Colón Cemetery (where my grandparents are buried), ostensibly to commemorate the Day of the Dog, whatever that exactly means. There is no elaboration on the exact meaning of the Day of the Dog in the CANF’s report. I suppose they perceive the overt purpose as meaningless, in contrast to the covert purpose, which is to needle the government under whatever guise.
The Cuban people’s ingenuity has risen to the challenge. Can’t have big political rallies? How about localized and frequent rallies for trifling causes?
Confronting stiff police resistance, the participants nonetheless succeeded in laying a wreath on the tomb of American philanthropist Jeannette Ryder, founder of the Society for the Protection of Children, Animals, and Plants in Cuba. This in spite of Javier Larrea, founder of Bienestar Animal Cuba, being notified that the march was illegal and would not receive approbation from the authorities.
What’s next?, I’ve wondered. A celebration for the day of the caiman? Or, to push the regime’s envelope of tolerance, a march against litter? The choices are infinite — as long as people can gather in support of apolitical causes that needle the powers that be, everyone knowing full well the underlying meaning of these minor marches.