The Cuban communist regime has imposed a nine-day mourning period following the death of dictator Fidel Castro, banning the public sales of alcohol, playing music, or “public spectacles.”
“During the National Mourning period, all activities and public spectacles will cease to occur,” the state newspaper Granma decreed. “The flag will fly at half staff on public buildings and militar establishments.”
“Radio and television will broadcast informative, patriotic, and historic programming,” the newspaper adds. Typically communist red, Granma’s webpage on Monday boasted a subdued black and white.
“Rebel Youth,” a state propaganda outlet highlighting communist youth, has declared “thousands of moments of silence” for the communist dictator on its homepage. The government is forcing all employers to “facilitate the participation of its workers in activities” to commemorate Fidel Castro. Elián González, the communist party hostage violently deported under the administration of Bill Clinton, is quoted as telling Cuban youth “do not speak of Fidel in past tense… Fidel will be, he is. He is present and future.”
Dissidents on the island have corroborated the reports of the imposed mourning period extending to prohibitions on appearing joyful in public. The Miami-based Martí Noticias reported this weekend that communist authorities have banned “any type of celebration” for nine days.
“You can’t listen to music in public, on cell phones, or drink alcohol,” Adriano Castañeda, a dissident activist, told Martí. On Saturday night, Castañeda, located in central Sancti Spíritus, “a committee began going block by block, going into neighbors’ houses looking for music or a festive atmosphere and warning against them.”
On Tuesday, Cuba’s current dictator, Raúl Castro, will reportedly welcome a bevy of leftist VIPs for the first of many events commemorating his elder brother, including Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and former Latin American leftist leaders Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil and José Mujica of Uruguay.
The mandatory mourning period has alarmed dissidents who fear an impending crackdown. The arrests have already begun. On Friday night, following Castro’s announcement of his brother’s death, Danilo Maldonado, a graffiti artist known as “El Sexto,” was arrested after spray-painting the words “he’s gone” on a wall in Havana. For the first time in years, the Ladies in White – the mothers, sisters, daughters, and wives of political prisoners – chose not to march in Havana holding the images of their imprisoned relatives, fearing even more violent repression than the usual weekly beatings and arrests.
The Cuban government announced the death of Fidel Castro, 90, on Friday night. Castro ruled the island from 1959 to 2008, leaving a legacy of firing squads, concentration camps, hunger, and fear.
The announcement triggered a wave of exuberant celebration in Miami’s Little Havana, home to most of the nation’s Cuban exile community, and elicited a wave of praise from the world’s leftist leaders, notably Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has been a stalwart ally of the repressive communist regime.
In contrast, American President-elect Donald Trump issued a statement referring to Castro as a “brutal dictator” and sending his well wishes to the Cuban exile community.