This Monday, a group of protestors outside the new Cuban embassy in Washington accompanied the speech by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez with shouts of “Cuba sí, Castro No”; “Freedom for Cuba”; “Democracy.” While some chanted, “Viva Cuba,” others responded, “Freedom.”
At some points “Castro sí” was also heard. “Never in this country would I have imagined I would hear something like this,” said a Cuban who came to renew his passport in the consulate.
“I’m here to support the human and civil rights of the Cuban people who have not had free elections for more than 60 years,” said Laura Martínez, a Cuban-American, 26, gathered outside the building that, since 1977, housed the Cuban Interests Section in the United States. “Although I support the reestablishment of relations between Cuba and the United States, I want the human, civil and political rights of the Cuban people to be respected and we are demanding that right now,” she added.
The activist Rosa María Payá believes that “this is only the beginning of diplomatic relations that so far has meant the conversation between two elites, of people who were not there and don’t represent the Cuban people, because the Cuban people never elected them.”
“We are expecting that, at least in their discourse, those people who approach Cuba converse not only with the elites in power, but that they also support the right of Cubans to decide, of legislation conducive to [exiles’] visit to the island, and the extension of immunity from violence to those who demonstrate [against the regime] inside and outside of the island,” she adds.’
The writer Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo stressed the importance of the resumption of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana also resulting in greater freedom for independent journalists. He asks for “a more inclusive future,” in which “the chokehold that the regime keeps on civil society is loosened.”