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Cuban government steps up rhetoric against US ahead of protests scheduled for November 15

As activists in Cuba challenge the government and continue to prepare for the national protests on November 15, the government is stepping up its rhetoric against the United States, accusing it of funding and leading the protesters.

President Miguel Díaz-Canel said in a speech Sunday that the protests were “an externally orchestrated plan”.

In the province of Matanzas, east of the capital, Havana, the authorities observed Sunday “el día territorial de la defensa” – roughly translated as a day of territorial defense – to prepare for a possible invasion of what the government called “the enemy”.

A video broadcast on a Cuban news program showed defense officials meeting with local workers about preparedness, armed people practicing in response to an attack, and schools conducting exercises.

In his speech, Díaz-Canel said that the previous July 11 protests were “nothing more than provocations and acts of vandalism as part of the strategy of unconventional warfare and the” coup d’état in gentleness “against our revolution”.

He said the march in less than three weeks would involve think tanks and US government spokespersons.

The most vocal leader of the planned march, Yunior García, denied the claims and said the organizers had pledged not to take outside funding.

The United States has expressed support for the protesters following the July events. After the Cuban government crackdown, the United States sanctioned several government officials and entities in August.

Díaz-Canel said the US Embassy in Havana “subverts the internal order of our country”. He said US diplomats frequently meet with “those leading the counterrevolution,” saying they offer guidance, logistical support and funding.

A State Department spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday that “the US government supports the right of Cubans and people everywhere to exercise their freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly,” adding: “We call on the government Cuban to respect these rights and to ensure that it is not like an attack, but an opportunity to listen to the Cuban people and to do what is right for the Cubans and for Cuba.

The Cuban Embassy in the United States did not respond to a request for comment.

In his speech, Díaz-Canel said: “The stated goal of the United States government is to overthrow the Cuban revolution.

He said the Biden administration’s policy towards Cuba is “trapped by its desire to win the vote in Florida,” which he says is dominated by “the Cuban-American mafia in Miami,” remarks similar to those that he and other officials have done in the past. .

The tone is similar to the tone Cuba set after the historic July 11 protests, when thousands took to the streets to voice their grievances, from the lack of political change to the island’s chronic shortages.

While Díaz-Canel said in July that the government must do “a critical analysis of our own problems … so that we can transform situations”, he blamed the United States and the effects of the decades-long embargo for events.

Government officials began to vilify young activists planning the November 15 protests on public television, accusing them of being led by the United States

The government rejected the activists’ official request to protest, saying it was an effort to overthrow the government. The day of the march coincides with the day Cuba opens its borders to tourism.

Lillian Guerra, professor of Cuban and Caribbean history at the University of Florida, said “fear” about an American invasion was one of the pillars of Cuban government discourse before the 2000s.

“What this implies is not just the fear of an American invasion,” Guerra said. “It was the fear that the exiles, the successful people in the United States, would come back and take control of their country.”

But “that argument doesn’t work anymore,” and it doesn’t reflect what many Cubans see on the ground as more and more Cuban Americans have invested in the island through family ties, thereby improving economic conditions. of their relatives, she said.

To Cubans on the island who advocate government change, preparing for an American invasion seems out of touch with reality.

The Cuban government’s strategy of blaming the United States for “neutralizing discussions” on the protests and pushing a theory that there is “no discontent on the island” does not take into account the reality on the island. field, Guerra said.

“What is emerging is oppositional culture,” she said. “It is not a rising opposition. It is a culture of growing opposition.

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