On this May 1st what is left of the communist world celebrated their “International Workers’ Day.” In Moscow the parade featured a huge photograph of Josef Stalin, the tyrant responsible for millions of deaths including the government engineered famine of 7 to 10 million Ukrainians. CNBC reported that in North Korea "People attend an event to mark [the] Workers' Day.” The CNBC newscast failed to point out that the North Koreans, just like the Cubans attending the celebration in Havana, are required to attend, and if they do not they suffer serious punishment. Cuban workers are ordered to report to their factories and are trucked to the event. Housewives, women, elderly folks not attached to a work place are rounded up by the Committees in Defense of the Revolution. Students are bused from their schools. Those are facts that most Western readers will not find in most of the media coverage.
In Havana, Raul Castro happily waved his hat to the crowd while his goons ran after a Cuban who dared to jump ahead of the parade waving an American flag and shouting human rights for Cubans. The name of the protester is not known. According to an Associated Press story carried by The Washington Post he was struck in the face as he was carried past reporters. Perhaps The New York Times that continues to advance a Cuban “narrative” that most of the time ignores Cuban reality, and that has carried a Reuters story on what happened, will pursue the story further and ask to visit him. Media inquiries as to his name and whereabouts might discourage the regime to inflict on him further beatings and abuse.
The Washington Post, May 1, 2017
Protester disrupts start of Cuba’s annual May Day parade
hoto: Associated Press
By Michael Weissenstein | AP
HAVANA — A protester briefly disrupted the start of Cuba’s largest annual political event on Monday, sprinting in front of May Day marchers and brandishing a U.S. flag before he was dragged away.
President Raul Castro watched along with other military and civilian leaders and foreign dignitaries as the man broke through security and ran ahead of the tens of thousands in the pro-government march.
Wearing a Cuban flag T-shirt and gripping the Stars and Stripes above his head, he stayed ahead of two similarly dressed security agents until he was swarmed by other officials and tripped over his own feet.
Plainclothes officers struggled to control the man but eventually lifted him off the ground and hauled him away in front of foreign and Cuban journalists covering the parade. Two of the guards shouted “Long live Raul!” and “Long live Fidel!” — Castro’s older brother and predecessor, who died Nov. 25. One struck the protester in the face as he was carried past reporters.
The protest was a surprising breach of security at a government-organized event where agents line the route of the march. It echoed a September 2015 demonstration that saw a member of the Santiago-based dissident group Patriotic Union of Cuba approach Pope Francis and cry out to the pontiff before security agents detained him. Several others were arrested nearby as they appeared to try to join the protest.
The identity of the protester detained Monday was not clear, and no dissident group immediately claimed him as a member. Cuba’s official media did not report on the incident.
Havana’s May Day march is Cuba’s largest regular gathering, a carefully choreographed display of support for the socialist system by hundreds of thousands of people organized by their state-run workplaces.
Castro has said he will step down as president in February, making this his last May Day parade as head of state, but the Cuban government has said virtually nothing about the succession process.
That political ambiguity, along with an economic slowdown spawned by reduced aid from Venezuela, has created a tense and uncertain atmosphere on the island.
While it has relaxed control of many aspects of everyday life, Cuba’s single-party Communist government maintains practically zero tolerance for political protest, labeling dissidents as paid agents of the U.S. government and Cuban exile groups who want to return capitalism to the island.
Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mweissenstein
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.
(Photo caption above) Russia: A Russian Communist party activist carries a banner with a portrait of late Soviet leader Joseph Stalin during a May Day rally in central Moscow.
CNBC: "North Korea: People attend an event to mark International Workers' Day in Pyongyang."