Yesterday, several anti-Castro groups planned a demonstration at the Bay of Pigs memorial on Calle Ocho, from noon to six. They specifically gathered to protest the recent indictments of Luis Posada Carriles, and to call for his immediate release. The day for the demonstration was repeatedly publicized on Radio Mambi by its regular callers (of which they have many). Oddly enough, the date and time for the protest was also publicized in the Miami Herald, the day before in a related article [not online].
As the demonstration began, a group of counter-demonstrators also showed up. Now, its important to state that there was only ONE video of the events that happened: that of WFOR CBS4 news, who also provide an unedited version online. After having seen the video and read several news reports of the incident, there were three anti-Posada protesters who were attacked by about another three to four pro-Posada protesters. The only provocation here was supposed chanting and holding up a large sign, that was later ripped up by the pro-Posada crowd. The anti-Posada group was attacked and chased away and have so far not filed any complaints to the police.
From the pictures and videos, the group that was attacked were members of the Bolivarian Youth and the attackers were members of Vigilia Mambisa, headed by Miguel Saavedra. The Miami New Times had a pretty good summary of Vigilia Mambisa in 2000 where they wrote that "[s]ome disapprove of Mambisa's street-theater tactics, labeling them emotional rather than practical... Other critics allege he and his band are paid provocateurs."
I have seen the Bolivarian Youth before when they had another counter-demonstration at the Orange Bowl for the Venezuelan Presidential election. There was video for that demonstration too, which also came close to becoming violent. They are a very politically active group who support many national and international causes.
I don't think anyone would want to characterize these two groups as violent, rather it seems that their deep differences on many issues requires a much more tolerant attitude.
Yet, only in Miami, where there is virtually little tolerance on the issue of Cuba, can such events occur. I place a lot of blame on the local media for their blind obedience and intimidation to the powerful Cuban-American political leadership, which continues to defend Luis Posada Carriles. The reports (so far) have not even made any attempt to contact the Bolivarian Youth, who were chased away before they could say anything to the media, and the incident is described as a "scuffle" or "clash", when in reality it was an attack.
Now, here's a way to make a judgment about some of the sentiments of the those who say that anti-Castro groups are generally peaceful and saintly. The video clearly shows the head of Vigilia Mambisa, Miguel Saavedra, chasing and hitting (at one point with his megaphone) a retreating member of the Bolivarian Youth.
Will Saavedra, or Vigilia Mambisa, be publicly condemned for their actions? Will anyone from the Cuban-American leadership (who know Saaverdra well) come out publicly to condemn his attack on the Bolivarian Youth?
Time will tell. Yet, I think some of us know what is likely to happen.