Defiant Guantanameros protest in Cuba regularly

'People of Cuba, wake up! They have fooled you,' protester says

GUANTANAMO, Cuba – It takes about 11 hours to drive from the Cuban capital of Havana to the island's easternmost city of Guantanamo.

Guantanameros, as people from the small city are known, seemed to feel forgotten about. While they were not afraid to protest over living conditions, the nearby U.S. Navy base didn't seem to concern them.

At the central park, there was a man holding up a cardboard sign. He shouted in Spanish: "People of Cuba, wake up! They have fooled you." His requests to government officials: "Raise the salaries of the people. Lower the prices in the super markets."

A man who was watering the plants at the park turned the hose on the protester and shouted: "Get a job!" Witnesses said the protester is a regular at the park and has been known to get arrested and detained for days. One look at YouTube showed that the unidentified man was not alone. 

Guantanamo has a list of political prisoners. Miguel Angel Lopez Herrera, 49, is known for using a wire to stitch his lips together to protest the detention of fellow protester Rogelio Tavio. Protesters still talk about the death of Wilmar Villar Mendoza, who died while in custody in 2012.

The "Protest Guantanamo" video uploaded in 2011 has 26,269 views. About a dozen people shouted repeatedly:  "Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!" And while there was a woman who was holding up a little girl,  Fidel Castro supporters started to throw rocks at them.

A couple of Cubans held up two signs and shouted: "Down with Communism! Down with Fidel! Down with Raul!" One of the signs read "No to Police Violence in Cuba!" It took four minutes for police officers to arrest them. The video had 2,477 views.

Earlier this year, a man, a woman and a boy were protesting the lack of medications available for HIV patients. Yoanny Beltran shared the video with Marti Noticias. Palenque Vision also reports on regular protests at Guantanamo's municipality of Caimanera.

There is also a man whose photos were posted on a blog and labeled as "a young man writes an anti-government sign on his house in Guantanamo."

Members of the Union Patriotica de Cuba (UNPACU) set up a YouTube account, which had 3,118 subscribers. And shared the leaders phone numbers publicly on social media. Most recently, the shared a video of men complaining about the low moral among youth and the need for recreational parks and pools to exercise.

"Guantanamo is on fire,"  Jorge Corrales said in Spanish last year during an interview with Marti Noticias. 

Corrales was describing UNPACU actions in front of the police department to protest charges against one of the leaders, who was accused of corrupting a minor. Corrales said police detained about 20 people and some were beaten and later released.

The city of Guantanamo was founded in 1797 in a territory that belonged to a colonial ranch named Santa Catalina. The city lacks colonial architecture and tourism, but no one was protesting about that either.

Local 10 News was at the city's Barona Street. And a when it rains and gets flooded, residents said the area becomes a health hazard. A woman claiming to live in the area said her main concern was a sewer pipe and a make-shift cover that needed to be replaced.

She said she has been waiting for "one hundred years" for the Cuban government to fix it. 


- YouTube user Derechos Humanos Cuba, Feb. 2012

- YouTube user Hablemos Press, Feb. 2012

- YouTube user Penultimos Dias, May. 2011


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