Report: First Senior Cuban Government Official Resigns over Protests

People take part in a demonstration to support the government of the Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana, on July 11, 2021. (Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images)
YAMIL LAGE/AFP via Getty Images

The vice minister of Cuba’s interior ministry resigned after allegedly questioning the ministry’s security response to anti-government protests across the Communist-ruled island starting Sunday, Spain’s ABC newspaper reported on Wednesday.

ABC reported on July 14, citing sources close to Cuba’s communist ruling regime:

The Vice Minister of the Interior of Cuba, Brigadier General Jesús Manuel burón Tabit, has resigned after questioning decision-making within the ministry and the Security Council, as well as the excessive use of police force to repress the demonstrations of 11 July.

“His departure is motivated by disagreements with other commanders [and] differences with respect to the measures taken during the protests last weekend,” according to the Spanish newspaper.

“There is trouble within the [Cuban] Army and differences between the military of the old guard and young generals,” ABC‘s Cuban government sources said Wednesday.

A member of Cuba’s communist old guard, Cuban Council of State Vice President Ramiro Valdés Menéndez, was forced to contend with a mob of anti-government protesters surrounding his home in Palma Soriano, eastern Cuba, on July 11, the day the protests began. Valdés is a veteran of Cuba’s communist revolution (1953-1959) and has held several prominent posts within the Cuban communist regime over the past six decades, including that of Interior Minister and Vice-Prime Minister.

Thousands of protesters demanding an end to decades of communist rule over Cuba launched mass demonstrations across the island on July 11 in an unprecedented show of peaceful force. Cuban state security forces have reacted to the protests with a heavy hand. Some eyewitness video footage circulating on social media appears to show Cuban police officers firing at alleged anti-government demonstrators in recent days.

Cuba’s Ministry of the Interior issued a statement on July 13 confirming “Diubis Laurencio Tejeda, 36, died Monday [July 12] during a clash between protesters and police in the Arroyo Naranjo municipality on the outskirts of Havana.” Authorities did not specify how he died.

Police arrested an unspecified number of people in connection with the incident, according to the statement. The press release also said some people, including police officers, were injured during the altercation.

Cuba’s interior ministry “accused demonstrators of vandalizing houses, setting fires and damaging power lines,” in its July 13  statement confirming Tejeda’s death. The ministry further alleged that protesters “attacked police and civilians with knives, stones and other objects.”

Cuba’s state-run telecom monopoly ETECSA on Monday blocked access to major social media and instant messaging platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, and WhatsApp. The Cuban government has additionally ordered ETECSA to implement rolling internet shutdowns meant to prevent protesters from sharing information about ongoing demonstrations nationwide.

“The targeted restrictions are likely to limit the flow of information from Cuba following widespread protests on Sunday [July 11] as thousands rallied against the socialist government,” the London-based internet monitor NetBlocks wrote in a blog post on July 12. “The restrictions are ongoing as of Tuesday the 13th midmorning local time.”


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