In the event of massive protests against the Government in Cuba, independent journalists would be the first objective to be neutralized, indicated documents used by the Armed Forces during the Bastion 2016 military exercises to which DIARIO DE CUBA had access.
The Bastión exercises are fictitious combat situations, simulations involving imaginary events created to address what the military considers potential dangers. The indications feature a series of objectives to meet in order to achieve "victory". Access to the documents that describe all this is restricted. Lower-ranking officers and the soldiers do not receive all the information.
"Human rights are for certain occasions". The phrase, uttered by a captain, seems to summarize the Armed Forces' general outlook.
The traditional "American enemy" was also mentioned in the 2016 Bastión documents, but this time independent journalists were singled out as the "number one threat."
"It's something that has been discussed for a while," said a FAR major. "Journalists are a weapon that can do a lot of damage, discredit the Government. The Internet is a very strong propaganda tool."
In the imaginary combat situation, "economic difficulties" spark demonstrations throughout the country. The interruption in the oil supply from Venezuela, due to the serious internal difficulties caused in that country "by imperialism", is one of the triggers. The protests are scattered at the beginning, but later they become widespread. Young people would be the most active protesters, as they are "more susceptible to enemy propaganda".
Although advanced as peaceful and nationalist protests, they would attack the image of the State's different bodies and the leaders of the Revolution. There would be outbreaks of violence in neighborhoods such as Central Havana, Old Havana, and El Cerro, with windows being broken, and looting.
The general response plan in the documents included cutting transportation routes in order to isolate the protests and control the number of participants.
But "independent journalists would always be the first objective," the major confirmed. "They would be the ones who could transmit to the world the image of a Cuban government that does not have the support of the people, one massacring the population. The order would be to arrest them or prevent their subversive work."
The documents to which DIARIO DE CUBA had access did not include any orders to shoot demonstrators. Some sections did refer to "accidental deaths" in the protests. One of them noted that the protesters would be the cause of the incidents.
"It stated that the MININT officers would be fighting the demonstrations, dressed as civilians," said another official who read the document. "The incident was not specified, only that there were fatalities."
The FAR stated, in their script for the simulation, that the groups most active amongst the protests would be, first of all, independent journalists and members of the Movimiento Cristiano Liberación (Christian Liberation Movement). Although these were not in charge, it would be important to "neutralize" them in the early hours of the uprising.
Finally, according to the scenario, the people of Cuba would ultimately "understand the imperialist manipulations", regain "confidence in their historical leadership," and engage in great marches of support for the Revolution, in every corner of the country.
This script expresses the views and ideas of the Armed Forces, such that the increasing attacks against independent journalists in Cuba and the obstacles thrown up at all times against their work cannot be seen as a mere coincidence.
This work, although it often does not reach all Cubans across the Island, is considered a threat by the Government, to the point that journalists are considered a top military objective.