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US protest narrative paves way for military incursion

HAVANA (AP) – Cuba on Wednesday criticized the United States and President Joe Biden for a series of statements by senior officials after unprecedented protests on the island last week, accusing the US government of seeking to justify intervention military.

Johana Tablada, deputy director of US affairs at Cuba’s foreign ministry, said US officials paint a false picture of the situation in Cuba, which is grappling with serious economic problems amid rising infections with coronavirus.

“There is a Walt Disney account of bad government and people fighting for their freedom – stereotypes that frighten anyone who has never set foot in Cuba, because of their arrogance and disregard for the truth. “Tablada said in an interview with The Associated Press. .

“They are very interested in fabricating an alternative reality because the riots of July 11 were not enough to justify the war that is being waged on us,” she added.

Communicating via social media, thousands of Cubans took to the streets on July 11 in various parts of the country to voice their complaints about power cuts, long queues at stores, shortages of goods and the rise. prices, while some called for changes in government. The protests resulted in acts of vandalism, the destruction of patrol cars, the throwing of stones at hospitals and looting.

There were also violent arrests of protesters by police, which AP witnessed, and according to authorities, one dead. Authorities have not released a list of prisoners, but Human Rights Watch said in a report Wednesday that around 500 had been arrested.

The day before, Colonel Víctor Alvarez of the Interior Ministry said that some detainees had been released when there was not enough evidence to prove that they had participated in protests, but that others were being processed by the court system. He did not give any figures or other details.

The protests were the largest in more than two decades, as groups of government supporters also took to the streets, including tens of thousands on Saturday.

Authorities have suspended cell phone internet data service on the island, accusing a campaign orchestrated from the United States of using robotic messaging on Twitter and other social media to spark the protests. Officials have also insisted that US sanctions imposed by the Trump administration are responsible for the island’s food, medicine and fuel shortages.

A petition on the platform created by a Belgian citizen asking the US government to invade Cuba has been signed by nearly 500,000 people, and some Florida politicians have raised such an action as a possibility.

Tablada said that although there is currently no US military movement targeting Cuba, there are signs of extreme aggression, such as those that have led to interventions in Libya and Iraq.

“We are at a time when the discourse has deteriorated to unprecedented levels,” she said. “From the Biden government as far as Cuba is concerned, we have seen several times a day, every day since July 11, senior American officials saying things that are not true” about Cuba.

Biden promised during his election campaign that he would resume President Barack Obama’s policy of bringing President Barack Obama closer to the island, but after entering the White House he maintained all of the increased sanctions imposed by President Donald Trump, including the addition of the Cuban government to a list of sponsors. terrorism.

The White House said a task force has been tasked with reviewing U.S. policy preventing Cuban-Americans from sending money to Cuba, but ensuring that the Cuban government does not act as an intermediary in the flow of money. Washington says it is also considering increasing the staff at its embassy in Havana to facilitate civil society participation.

Cuba is going through one of the worst economic crises in its history, a mixture of its own inefficiencies, the blow of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of US sanctions.

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