Cuban dissident: opposition may eventually spark a work stoppage

Opponents of the Cuban government may eventually spark a gradual work stoppage against the government that would undermine Havana’s ability to repress dissent, according to activist Jorge Luís García Pérez, also known as “Antúnez.”

The stoppage will be difficult to achieve but could grow into a mass protest down the long road of opposition to the communist system, Antúnez said during a news conference at the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies.

By disrupting the work of government agencies and institutions, the stoppage could erode their ability to repress the people and control an outburst of public protests, added Antúnez, who arrived in Miami on Sunday for his first-ever trip abroad.

The stoppage is already visible in the growing abstention rates reported for recent elections, he said, but to make it effective will take time. “It will be a gradual, patient and difficult process. We’re not thinking of paralyzing the country tomorrow,” he declared.

Antúnez also disagreed vehemently with reports that Cuba’s opposition movement is riven by internal disputes and rivalries, and blamed the reports on government propaganda efforts to slander dissidents and diminish their importance.

“I want to deny that the opposition is divided,” he said. “The Cuban resistance is more alive than ever.”

He added: “I know that there is an attempt on the part of the government to neutralize it, to silence it, to make believe that it does not exist.”

The dissident, who served 17 years in prison, added that the opposition to ruler Raúl Castro’s government was much bigger than what is perceived abroad, because each day there are many protests that are never reported in the news media.

“The protests, and the people’s sympathy for the opposition, have been growing,” he said. “Never before has the freedom of Cuba been so close.”

Antúnez, who was interviewed by El Nuevo Herald and The Miami Herald on Wednesday, also repeated his criticisms of Castro’s economic reforms as “maneuver” designed to fool the international community into believing that real change is afoot.

“They only want to legitimize and give continuity to the dictatorship,” he said.

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