Cuban artist and opponent Yunior García: “something has moved”

HAVANA (AP) – The playwright Yunior García Aguilera, the visible head of some calls for controversial calls and successive opposition marches unauthorized by the Cuban government, is convinced that the activism that has emerged in recent months demanding an expansion of political rights and a national dialogue will forever change the island.

“Things are not the same as a year ago, something has moved. The consciences of the people have undergone changes, internally, the mask that the regime had used and that the population in some way used, has crumbled, “Garcia told The Associated Press on Friday.

According to the 39-year-old playwright, the authorities warned him the day before that he would go to prison this Sunday if he decided to go out alone, dressed in white with a flower in his hand.

Until last year, García was considered by the country’s leaders as one of the most promising artists in the local cultural movement. Today his name and childlike face appear on television and in the official press as that of an enemy of the revolution. The government assured that his activism is part of a United States operation in its quest to achieve reforms to its liking in the Caribbean nation.

Sitting in his library full of books on theater, cinema and essays on the hero José Martí, García denied any connection with the US administration and disagreed with the sanctions imposed on the island by Washington, which since the 1960s have suffocated the economy national. However, he rejected that this is an impediment for not pointing out the failures of the Cuban model.

“I think that my greatest aspiration is that, that each Cuban knows that he has power, a lot of power, that a single citizen can shake a system,” he said.

The playwright had several plays on stage and his company “Trébol Teatro” was one of the most dynamic until November 27, 2020, when he became one of the spokesmen among a hundred creators who demonstrated in front of the defendant Ministry of Culture a dialogue with the authorities and space for art without government control.

He again came to light when in an unusual protest on July 11 of this year he was arrested. Those demonstrations – without clear leadership – took thousands of people to the streets to protest against the harsh economic situation and left one dead and an unknown number of people imprisoned.

The playwright became the most rejected of the opponents by the authorities after together with his group Archipelago – an internet debate platform that he and another thirty people coordinate – he called for a march, first for the November 20 and then moved forward to the 15.

The activists requested permission for the demonstration under the argument that the new Constitution granted them that right, but the authorities denied it, pointing out that it was illegal because it went against the Magna Carta itself, which stipulates that socialism is irrevocable and nothing can be done against him.

The march was called in more than half a dozen cities in addition to Havana for the liberation of the prisoners – especially those of July 11 – respect for human rights and for a national dialogue. The organizers reported that they would come out the same and the Prosecutor’s Office warned them that they could be imprisoned.

“What has happened has been a great shock to this country,” said García, born in Holguín in 1982 and trained in the island’s state art schools.

The expectation for the November 15 march, which coincides with the official announcement of the economic and social reopening of the country after almost 20 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been growing in these days. In addition, the popular celebrations of the 502 years of the founding of Havana were expected.

The authorities, including Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, said that nothing would happen, since the opponents do not have popular support. The activists, mostly young people and social media users, predicted arrests and some showed subpoenas from the police to threaten them.

Finally, on Thursday night, García surprisingly reported that he had decided with the support of Archipelago and without deactivating the general call for Monday the 15th to carry out a solo march with a white flower in his hands for Sunday. “We had to make a new move thinking about the people making a call for good sense, a call for non-violence and try to challenge the regime again,” he explained.

The authorities also rejected this idea. “The answer was negative. Yesterday they called me for questioning. They have told me that this decision is worse than the previous one, that for them it constitutes a greater threat than the one previously planned (the demonstration on Monday), they have told me that they will not allow me to leave, “he said.


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