Maydelis Gonzalez Almeida, a dissident and member of the Cuban Reflection Movement from Quemado de Guines, in Cuba’s central Villa Clara province, expressed to feel “very content” upon counting on the support of “everyday citizens” when she carried out a public protest in front of the ETECSA (state phone company) offices of that town this past Wednesday, October 3rd.
Gonzalez Almeida stood in front of the office with a sign, demanding the return of various phones and a video camera which had been robbed from her during past politically motivated arrests. In addition to this demand, her sign also read: “ETECSA, working together with State Security”, “Lower the high tariffs”, “improve your phone system”, and “stop interrupting our phone calls”.
The activist expressed that “the phone service provided by ETECSA in Cuba is horrible”. In fact, she pointed out, when she began her protest that day “there were people there complaining outside because they too were having serious problems with their lines”.
She adds that one lady actually went up to her and said “that sign you are carrying should be hung here permanently, not just today”.
Maydelis Gonzalez lasted more than 3 hours standing under the sun with the sign, walking throughout the entire perimeter and showing it to everyone who went in and came out, as well as all other citizens who walked by through that area which she described as a centric location.
“I was able to stay standing there for about 3 hours and the everyday people supported me. Some would nod their heads in approval while others verbally agreed with me”, said Gonzalez. But, as was expected, State Security eventually arrived and called on members of the local Communist Party and of the People’s Power to carry out an act of repudiation against her.
“I saw that there was a mob coming at me with sticks and stones, and various citizens told me to be careful and to hurry up and get out of there because those people were going to beat me. One neighbor, whom I will not name, offered me protection in his home, but the mobs stationed themselves outside of this house. They started to scream slogans at me like ‘counter-revolutionary’ and messages like ‘take out your sign now so we can beat you’ and ‘we are going to kill you’, in addition to offensive words which they are accustomed to scream”, she said.
One of the members of the mob- a worker of the Communist Party in Quemado de Guines known as ‘Roger’- illegally entered the house where Maydelis was taking refuge and violently snatched the sign from her hand. It was at that moment where State Security jeeps began to arrive to detain the activist.
“State Security arrived at that moment because they wanted to give the illusion that the mobs were made up by everyday people and that they arrived there to save me, but that’s completely false. State Security were the ones who organized the mobs”, affirmed Maydelis, “and when they were taking me in the Jeep, the people from the mobs started to shout ‘throw her in jail’ and I simply answered, ‘God bless you all, because I was out there standing for more than 3 hours and no one at all from the everyday people lashed out against me’”.
“The people justified my protest… they videotaped me, they asked permission to take pictures, and I explained to them that I was demanding their rights. I am happy because, despite everything, it was a success, at least for 3 hours. For me, it was another victory. I demonstrated to the people that yes, they can demand their rights, and yes, the struggle keeps on”, assured Gonzalez Almeida.
The protest took place during a moment in which the censorship measures applied by ETECSA have increased throughout the entire island, as they work side by side with State Security to keep many incoming calls and text messages from successfully registering in phones owned by human rights activists.
For more information from Cuba:
Maydelis Gonzalez Almeida – Cell Phone: +5358- 217-833