The protests are allowed by the Cuban constitution. However, the government had promised not to allow the demonstrations planned for Monday, aimed at demanding greater political freedoms, claiming that they were a pretext for causing trouble on the communist island and that they had been secretly organized by Cuban exiles. and the United States.
The city of Havana saw a heavy police presence Monday morning as authorities prepared to confront potential protesters. In the end, the streets remained quiet, yet evidence of the chilling effects of the government’s warnings.
According to the independent human rights organization Cubalex, based in Havana, the Cuban police arrested 11 people, while another 50 were “besieged” inside their homes to prevent any public gathering.
On Monday, Cuban activist Saily González Velázquez said in a video broadcast live on Facebook that government supporters were blocking her home in Santa Clara to prevent her from attending the protests.
“At 5:30 in the morning, people called by the Cuban government came to my neighborhood. I know they were called by the Cuban government because of the posters they carried,” he told CNN, adding: “They played music and when I left my house, they started yelling at me and my family. ”
The activist also denounced that those outside her home were threatening her with death.
In the videos, a group of people can be seen outside their home with signs and shouts, and chants of “traitor” can be heard from the crowd. The crowd can be seen holding signs that read “Nothing Can Beat Us” and “Homeland or Death.”
Cuban activist, journalist and Washington Post columnist Abraham Jiménez Enoa also tweeted Monday saying he was “besieged by plainclothes officers and policemen.”
He tweeted: “The neighbors tell me that today’s operation is bigger than yesterday’s. I can’t see it from my balcony because there is a tree blocking my view. I only see your feet. Are you so afraid of journalism that it comes out and tell people? right? ”
According to Cubalex, among those detained on Monday were the Cuban citizen Agustín Figueroa Galindo, who usually writes for the opposition blog “Primavera Digital en Cuba”, and Berta Soler Fernández, leader of “Ladies in White”, an organization that advocates for the liberation . of political prisoners on the island.
Cuban officials had been nervous, fearing the spontaneous island-wide protests that rocked Cuba in January and led to more than 1,000 arrests, according to activist groups.
But on Monday afternoon, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla declared that Cuba was “calm” and that “outside of Cuba they created expectations that were not met.”
Over the weekend, supporters of the Cuban government also blocked the apartment of activist and playwright Yunior García Aguilera in Havana in what appeared to be a move to anticipate the demonstration. García Aguilera is the highest profile organizer of the event.
A government supporter living in the Garcia Aguilera neighborhood told CNN that he was proud to have confined the activist to his home.
US officials have threatened to impose sanctions on Cuba if the protesters are arrested by the police.