[Franklin Marquez – Age –50’s; Birthplace – Santiago de Cuba, Cuba; Residence – Miami, Florida, U.S.; Lives with Wife and Children; Occupation – Attorney, Writer, Moderator of the Blog]
Reports on Twitter, other social networking, Miami newspaper, radio and television outlets, and the web exploded Friday night as a group of sixty Cuban Exiles living in the U.S. traveled in a flotilla of five boats to a spot in international waters, off the coast of Cuba, and set off fireworks for the residents of Havana to see.
December 10 is the International Day of Human Rights. The exile group decided to raise awareness by taking the action. The government of Cuba decried the act, threatened known dissidents, and possibly quelled large crowds on the Malecón in Havana.
The reason most say that the Malecón was empty was that it was raining. But enough people saw it from balconies, rooftops, and other locations, and reported it, that the effect was huge.
We have reported previously that the means of overtaking a government via protests organized and encouraged via social media seems unlikely in Cuba, because having a telephone, and particularly a smart phone is uncommon. Having Internet and other access in one’s home is unheard of. Even the famous blogger, Yoani Sanchez, travels to one of the big hotels or Internet kiosks daily and pays for her access. Sometimes the government blocks access by Cubans to these locations. I have used computers in some of the kiosk locations; the computers are dinosaurs, the connections as slow as our old dial-up, and there is no wi-fi so that one could access via their laptop, except in a few hotels.
But somebody managed to snap a photo of a ball of fire in the sky and to tweet it. It sure doesn’t look like our country’s colorful and spectacular fireworks, with loud noise, streaming colors, explosions of color and light inside other bursts, but it doesn’t matter. The fireball was a communication to the people of Cuba that people on the outside care and are not that far away.
The Cuban government, in the official newspaper, the Granma, called the flotilla’s creator, Ramón Sául Sánchez, a "terrorist" who has "carte blanche" in Washington.
It stated that Sanchez and the Democracy Movement he created had “orchestrated a new provocation against our homeland. He has spent 40 years planting bombs and carrying out violent acts with impunity.”
Sanchez said that, the initiative, first organized in 1995, seeks to "bring global attention to the internal situation" on the island "and encourage the Cuban people recover their right to" support the opposition, "the government Havana's branded as "mercenary" in America.
Also on Friday, December 9, 2011, demonstrations were held outside the home of the late opposition leader of the “Ladies in White”, Laura Pollan. The Ladies in White are a group of wives of dissident political prisoners, who stage weekly protests in Havana. While her followers read aloud the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, several hundred pro-government demonstrators staged a boisterous "act of repudiation".
Cuba’s famous blogger, Yoani Sanchez (who I imagine is not related to Ramón Sanchez), tweeted, “… A pesar de lluvia, control y detenciones los fuegos artificiales de la #flotilla se ven! La Habana llena de luces y carente de #DDHH,”(the hashtags being the flotilla Twitter stream and the International Human Rights stream). The English translation is, “…Despite rain, control and detention, one can see the fireworks from the #flotilla! Havana, full of light while lacking in human rights.”
I have not found any reference to actual imposition of overt government control or any arrests made on this day, but I am not certain whether Ms. Sanchez was referring to this day or in general.
Ramón Sául Sánchez tweeted, "Estoy muy emocionado, el objetivo se ha cumplido," which translates to, “I'm very moved; the objective has been achieved."