|Near the Havana Sea Wall on August 5, 1994|
500 Cubans gathered on August 5, 1994 on the pier "de la Luz", to take the launch that goes to Regla and Casablanca because there was a rumor that it would again be diverted to Florida. It was a rumor of a path to freedom that these 500 people had seized upon.
|Cubans marching and shouting for freedom on August 5, 1994|
Military trucks arrived and announced the suspension of the launches departure and dispersed the crowd. People walking along the Malecón (The Havana Sea Wall) joined the dispersed crowd and gathered near the Castillo de la Real Fuerza (Castle of the Royal Force). A thousand Cubans began to march shouting Freedom through the streets of Havana.
That 500 Cubans would gather to flee the island is not a new phenomenon but that another 500 would join them to march and call for freedom was something new and an unexpected development for the security services.
After marching for a kilometer, a hundred Special Brigade members and plain clothes police confronted the protesters.
|Plainclothes regime agent aiming his gun at protesters August 5|
That same day Fidel Castro took to the official airwaves and as usual blamed the dictatorship's problems on the United States but had to address the event that took place on July 13, 1994 saying:
"...it [the United States] wants at all costs to undermine the country's economic effort, as part of its overall plan to destroy the Revolution. Radio broadcasts, subversive propaganda, all of this is spearheaded from outside and is encouraged abroad. But, to be sure, this concrete fact--this phenomenon--has been much more clearly in evidence in recent weeks, starting with the accident involving the tug '13 de Marzo'. I believe that one of the most infamous and most grossly cynical acts of the United States Government occurred because of this accident."An exhaustive investigation by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the events of the attack and sinking of the "13 de Marzo" tugboat on July 13, 1994 found that "[t]he evidence clearly shows that the sinking of the tug "13 de Marzo" was not an accident but rather a premeditated, intentional act," and held the Cuban State responsible for violating the right to life of all those killed that day aboard the tugboat.
The beginning of the massacre had been witnessed from the Malecón and according to one of the survivors, Sergio Perodin: "People in Havana Malecon (a popular seafront place), couples, fishermen, began to shout asking the Polargo's crew not to sink us."
Twenty three days later 1,000 Cubans were marching through the streets of Havana and clashing with regime officials and Fidel Castro was trying to justify the events surrounding the "13 de Marzo" tugboat sinking portraying the perpetrators of the massacre as heroes and defaming the victims.
|ABC newspaper in Spain outlines what happened on August 5, 1994|
It appears that what had started provoked by a rumor of freedom frustrated by repressive forces then combined with outrage from the previous month's massacre of innocents turned into a popular protest that initially caught the Castro regime by surprise. For the first time in 35 years a mass popular protest was able to sustain itself long enough to be reported on by international media before it was crushed by the regime's repressive actors.
Two decades later and the Maleconazo is still remembered in the popular consciousness of Cubans. The Cuban punk rock group, Porno para Ricardo named a song and album after the protests. Below is a video the banned group produced for the 18th anniversary of the August 5th uprising in Cuba.