An anti-communism Cuban dissident interrupted Monday’s May Day parade in Havana, running in front of the marching throngs waving an American flag. A communist mob attacked him, beating him and dragging him away.
The man, identified as Daniel Llorente, has previously waged similar protests against the communist regime of dictator Raúl Castro and has expressed vocally his support for the American government.
Video of the incident shows that Llorente took off running in front of the throngs, waving an American flag before the likeness of mass murderer Ernesto “Che” Guevara in the Plaza of the Revolution, waiting to march just moments before the May Day parade was to begin, shouting anti-government slogans. A group of men waiting on the sidelines, who have not been identified in reports, restrained, beat, and dragged Llorente away. Every major Cuban government leader, including dictator Castro, was in attendance.
The Miami-based outlet Martí Noticias identified the man as Llorente, a freelance cab driver and dissident, but does not belong to any dissident organizations. Instead, he has used his American flag to protest on previous occasions by waving it before public congregations. A year ago, Llorente protested before a crowd awaiting the first American cruise ship’s arrival in Havana, the Adonia. Llorente greeted the ship waving an American flag and shouting “Yes we can!”, the famous slogan of President Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. The government organized a rabble to berate Llorente with racial epithets, and Llorente responded by asserting his freedom.
“I use whatever flag I want because I am free. I am not a hypocrite, not like all the Cubans marching yesterday [the 2016 May Day march] — all those Cubans are hypocrites,” he told his detractors. He went on to praise the U.S. flag as the “pride of the Americans” and assert, “I don’t fear the government.”
Llorente was also beaten and whisked away following that incident.
May Day, or International Workers’ Day, is a holiday organized to celebrate Marxism worldwide. In Cuba, governed by communists for over half a century, the government celebrates annually with a large mandatory parade in Havana.
In a rare admission that the Llorente incident occurred, state propaganda outlet Granma condemned the protester as an “annexationist” and claimed he had a criminal record for “armed robbery.” The newspaper insisted that 800,000 Cubans marched to celebrate communism and ran a number of articles claiming that the ideology, which has killed nearly 100 million people worldwide, remains popular. Among the articles supporting the government was one headlined “Fidel, More Present than Ever” (he is dead).
Violence against dissidents remains rampant in Cuba, perhaps more common under Raúl Castro than during the end of his brother’s term. In March, for example, two members of the dissident group Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU), one a pregnant teen, were attacked by a communist mob and beaten, the woman punched in the womb in an attempt to force her to abort. That same month, Eduardo Cardet, the head of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), was sentenced to three years in prison for allegedly refusing to mourn the death of Fidel Castro. The Ladies in White, a group of dissidents who protest every Sunday by attending Catholic Mass in their signature color and holding images of prisoners of conscience, are beaten and arrested following that Mass on a weekly basis.