‘Special Troops, batons, guns and dogs’ to control the people in Guantánamo
MANUEL ALEJANDRO LEÓN VELÁZQUEZ | Guantánamo | 7 de Enero de 2017 –
Three months after Hurricane Matthew hit, the inhabitants of Baracoa and
Maisí are complaining about the Government’s sluggish response to aid
those who lost everything, and criticizing the still-strong military
presence in the affected areas.
“All this is controlled by special troops, ‘black berets’ and ‘red
berets.’ The situation has been like this since the passage of Matthew,
and in recent days some 300 or more of them showed up to relieve those
who are here,” explained Wilder Frómeta Romero, who lives in Balatrera,
“They control the lines to buy building materials and other things. They
go around armed with batons, tear gas, and pistols. People are scared.”
Oversight at locations selling materials for the repair of homes is
meant to prevent the situation from getting out of hand.
“It’s where there are the most dissatisfied people, because they give
the materials to people who aren’t supposed to get them, there are long
delays in the allocations, and, moreover, they don’t give people what
they really need,” said Frómeta Romero. The military “is trying to avert
a protest,” he said.
He explained that at the end of the year the authorities “slashed the
prices” of some items “and the streets were packed.”
“Several people, mostly youths, got into fights, and the ‘black berets’
went up there, I think to prove their supremacy to the people,” he said.
Frómeta Romero’s wife complained that many basic necessities, like
“rice, peas, soap, toothpaste and sugar, are expensive.”
“The prices of agricultural products, such as vegetables and meats, are
sky high. Chicken abounds, but at the TRD (stores), where you cannot go,
due to the lines, and, in my case, my fear of military dogs,” said the
“They said they were going to give rice and beans free of charge for six
months, and since the Hurricane they have only given out these products
free once, and that was during the month of the tragedy. What they have
you done with that, I do not know,” she complained.
Francisco Luis Manzanet Ortiz, a dissident leaving in Jamal, said that
in the town “they’ve installed security cameras everywhere.”
The authorities put “a checkpoint in Yumurí and another on the Toa
Bridge. The soldiers have taken over Baracoa in such a way that some
don’t even want to go outside, they’re so scared,” said Manzanet Ortiz.
“The reinforcements are brought in Jeeps, and guarded by patrols, with
their sirens blaring, so that everyone knows that more guards have been
sent. A few days ago they got into it with some kids, and, with what
those black berets know about personal defense, imagine how they ended
up,” he added.
Manzanet Ortiz complained that “the repression against dissidents has
increased” because “people come to us to report the injustices that are
“When we try to leave the town they stop and inspect us to see if we
have any recorded information or images on us. They take our USB drives,
cameras, phones, everything that they believe serves to conduct
independent journalism,” said the dissident.
In Maisí, one resident affected by the hurricane, who asked not to be
identified, said the situation there “is similar to that in Baracoa.”
“The authorities claim that it is 80% recovered, but the truth is that
most of us are living in ‘temporary’ shelters made out of cardboard
sheets and tar to craft walls and roofs sheltering us from the rain,”
said the woman, a resident in the town of El Veril.
“I myself have begun spending time in an office they want to get me out
of,” she said.
“They are leaving for last those of us whose houses were razed by the
hurricane, and giving priority to those who suffered partial damage;
according to the State, to build us a complete house,” she said. But
“I’m not going to leave (the office) until I see what happens, because
with them you never know.”
A young man from Los Llanos, who, like his neighbor in El Veril,
preferred not to reveal his name, said that the town is also “militarily
“Since Matthew swept through that place, the special troops have not
left,” said the youth.
“No one has ever seen so many soldiers here. I can even understand that
they have mobilized those doing their Military Service as a labor force
for the recovery process, but the only thing the special troops do is
sow fear among the peasants,” he said.
Source: ‘Special Troops, batons, guns and dogs’ to control the people in
Guantánamo | Diario de Cuba –