Cuban playwright Yunior Garcia takes on the government.
The Cuban government has banned a protest scheduled for November 15, but Yunior Garcia, a 39-year-old actor and dramatist, is unconcerned; he wants to march for reform and freedom regardless of what happens after that.
Garcia exudes youth, his glasses perched on his nose. He smokes a cigarette on the balcony of his apartment in La Coronela, a working-class Havana neighborhood, despite the exorbitant costs of cigarettes due to widespread shortages and the evident health risks.
Garcia, who is developing as a key player in Cuba’s opposition movement, had been the topic of a state television report the night before.
His call for protest was denounced as a “provocation,” and he was accused of being backed by the US, which was “supporting the destabilization of Cuba.”
Garcia, though, is unfazed by the criticism, and plans to march on November 15, a march he helped organize in Havana, three months after the historic protests that erupted across the Communist-run island nation on July 11.
Six other provinces are planning demonstrations in addition to the capital.
In an interview with AFP, he said, “Protesting is a human right, a constitutional right… thus on Monday, November 15, I will peacefully protest as planned.”
Garcia claims it is a “personal decision” because he has been unable to contact other event organizers because their internet and landlines have been cut, according to him.
When Garcia went to pick up the government’s formal response to the protest request on Tuesday, a small number of Cubans welcomed him with dollar signs, implying that he had sold out to Washington.
“They referred to me as a mercenary… ‘You know who pays me and how much I earn, my sole employment is with the government,’ I told them. My wage is barely 4,000 pesos per month, and I am paid by the Council for Visual Arts.’ “He stated that it was the equivalent of $166.
Garcia, who was born in the eastern city of Holguin, was previously only recognized in the arts world for his plays and television and film scripts.
But, since a protest in Havana on November 27, 2020, in which hundreds of artists requested greater freedom of speech, he has taken on a new role: he is one of the faces of a new generation critical of the government.
Many of the “new look” dissidents are not political activists; instead, they are self-employed artists. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C.