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Monday, August 4, 2014

Maleconazo at 20: The Havana Uprising of August 5, 1994

"Apart from the distances: in China they tried to erase what happened in Tiananmen Square and in #Cuba the Maleconazo."  - Yoani Sánchez, over twitter on June 3, 2014

 "I remember Tiananmen I remember the Maleconazo and presently I remember Venezuela and you, what do you remember?" - Yoani Sánchez, over twitter on June 3, 2014

Maleconazo: Mass protests in Havana, Cuba on August 5, 1994
Yoani Sánchez makes an important observation above the regimes in China and Cuba want to erase the inconvenient facts and historical events that are in conflict with the official narrative. Tiananmen Square and the Maleconazo are two such episodes that have important anniversaries in 2014. The massacre in Tiananmen was 25 years ago on June 4, 1989 and the Maleconazo marks 20 years on August 5, 1994. 

Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter describes below what happened on August 5, 1994 and its historic importance:
500 Cubans gathered on August 5, 1994 on the pier "de la Luz", to take the launch that goes to Regla and Casablanca because there was a rumor that it would again be diverted to Florida. It was a rumor of a path to freedom that these 500 people had seized upon. Military trucks arrived and announced the suspension of the launches departure and dispersed the crowd.  People walking along the Malecón (The Havana Sea Wall)  joined the dispersed crowd and gathered near the  Castillo de la Real Fuerza (Castle of the Royal Force). A thousand Cubans began to march shouting Freedom through the streets of Havana.  That 500 Cubans would gather to flee the island is not a new phenomenon but that another 500 would join them  to march and call for freedom was something new and an unexpected development for the security services.  After marching for a kilometer, a hundred Special Brigade members and plain clothes police confronted the protesters. The demonstrators dispersed into the neighborhood of Central Havana, burning rubbish bins, smashing the windows of the dollar stores and clashing with the police with stones and sticks. Regime agents responded with physical beat downs, several gun shots and their own mobilization of repressive actors.
One thousands Cubans marching through Havana chanting "Freedom!" and "Down with Castro"  The sounds and images of that day have been captured on video and its impact is felt two decades later in music and art.

 It is also important that the images of plain clothes state security aiming their guns at an unarmed protest in a manner that indicates they were shooting must also be remembered and widely distributed.

Maleconazo: Regime agents aiming their guns at protesters
It is also important to recall on the evening of August 5, 1994, the dictator, Fidel Castro took to the airwaves to justify and defend the "13 de Marzo" tugboat massacre that had taken place on July 13, 1994.

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