Exiles say civil resistance in Cuba is a success
BY ANDRES AMERIKANER | Miami Herald
Chalk it up to Fidel Castro’s illness, to economic struggles or to spontaneous unrest, but Cuban exiles in Miami say their one-year campaign to encourage civil resistance on the island has been a success.
‘‘The campaign has taken off,’’ said Orlando Gutiérrez, national secretary of the 200-member Directorio Democrático Cubano, or Cuban Democracy Directory, in a news conference Wednesday. ``The struggle increasingly has public support.’‘
Last year, 10 Miami-based exile groups came together to start broadcasting television, radio and online ads featuring well-known Cuban exile artists to the island. Fliers and bumper stickers were distributed. Short ads starring artists such as Jon Secada and—most recently—singer Amaury Gutiérrez and TV personality Boncó Quiñongo were aired.
The objective: To get Cubans to stop cooperating with their government, Gutiérrez said.
‘‘The regime can’t handle the idle arms of 12 million Cubans,’’ he said. ``If we all unite in noncooperation, we’re going to achieve change.’‘
The groups provided dozens of examples, many from independent journalists inside Cuba, of civic resistance in the past year. For example, a sticker with the word ‘‘change’’ placed on a bust of José Martí in Santa Clara in September 2006; a labor unionist who was arrested for handing out the group’s pamphlets in December 2006; and signs reading ‘‘down with Fidel,’’ ‘‘change’’ and ‘‘I do not cooperate with the dictatorship’’ seen in San José de las Lajas in Havana province in June.
Another indicator of success, Gutiérrez said, is Raúl Castro’s speech on July 26, in which he chided ‘‘social indiscipline’’ stemming from wage protests.
The campaign does not call for violent resistance, said Angel De Fana, director of Plantados Hasta La Libertad Y La Democracia En Cuba, a group that represents former political prisoners. Although all forms of civil disobedience are welcome, he said, they are aware that Cubans live in fear.
‘‘If we asked them for violence, they’d probably reject it,’’ said De Fana, who spent 20 years in a Cuban prison and arrived in Miami in 1984.
Still, leaders of the exile groups said the time is ripe for change on the island, and support in Miami is peaking.
De Fana said his organization’s events in the streets of Miami attract more cheers, screams of support and honking than ever before.
Gutiérrez said his group has received a large influx of members in their 20s.
‘‘I think the absence of Fidel has shaken up the regime,’’ Gutiérrez said of Fidel Castro’s illness and transfer of power to Raúl. ``This is an environment that has never been seen before.’‘
The groups will gather this Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at Southwest Eighth Street and Southwest 27th Avenue to pass out fliers and stickers about the campaign.