Report from Franklin Regarding Weekend’s Events in Havana

[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]

Much news continues to come out of Havana on Sunday, December 11, 2011, following the flotilla on Friday, and activities related to the Human Rights Day on Saturday. Twitter reports indicate that many active dissidents are being detained, others afraid of being detained, and even the Ladies in White picked up and deported to their provinces. It is common in Havana for people who do not have permits to be in Havana to be deported to the provinces where they are supposed to reside.

I telephoned two friends in Havana today, and received remarkably different accounts of what was going on.  The first one is not permitted to be in Havana and works in an unofficial and undesired activity.  He stated that he has not left his small, illegal rental property for days.  He said, though, “I can’t talk about it on a cellular phone. I’ll tell you everything next time you are here in person. But I cannot work. I cannot go out.”

Another person completely surprised me. I called to talk about something else, and he asked me, 

“What is going on with boats coming to Cuba?”

I explained the flotilla of four or five boats that had gone there to shoot fireworks. He said, “They didn’t come to Havana.”

I said, “Yes, they did. I saw a number of photos from the Malecon showing the fireball in the sky.”

He expressed surprise. People in his neighborhood have been talking about the boats.  Some said they were attacking. Others said they were coming to shore to get people and take them to the U.S.  I explained that neither was true. The boats had anchored twelve miles off shore, and shot fireworks as a demonstration against the government. 

I asked, “You didn’t hear or see anything?”

I have been to his dwelling, about twelve blocks off the Malecon, in Centro Habana.  He said, “No. 

Nothing. Nobody in my neighborhood knows anything.”

I said, “Do you know about arrests and turmoil?”

He said, “No, I know nothing of that.”

Weird. When you see the Twitter reports, things are obviously happening, and the arrests were going on for some time before this week, in preparation for the week.  Well-known activists were put away so they wouldn’t be able to do much. Now more are being picked up.

But maybe this also gets back to what I said in a previous post.  The lack of smart phones, Internet, accessibility to Twitter, etc., means the rest of us know what’s going on there, while the residents who are not active in the dissident community know nothing.

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