Student protest in Cuba brings out anti-riot squad

A Cuban anti-riot squad, previously unseen but surprisingly well-equipped and with fixed bayonets, quelled a Pakistani student protest in Matanzas, a video of the event shows.

"Our hand will not tremble in the face of violence," one Cuban official warns the medical school protesters in the video, broadcast on the Maria Elvira Live program on MegaTV.

The official adds that it's the second protest by the Pakistanis but gives no dates for either, and says 15 leaders of the latest manifestation were to be flown home immediately.

A statement by the Cuban Embassy in Pakistan on Thursday, after parts of the video were posted on the Internet, confirmed the protests but did not mention the students' complaints of inadequate education and living conditions.

"Unfortunately, since the first months of 2007 and until now, grave violations of discipline have repeatedly been committed by a small group of students," the statement said.

"Such violations of discipline have included, among others, disrespect for their professors, disregard to the Cuban authorities, failing to attend class, misbehavior, physical aggressions . . . along with acts of violence," said the statement, published by the online Pakistan Observer.

The video shows scores of members of the anti-riot squad dressed in black and equipped well for a country where riots are extremely rare — with tear gas guns, riot batons, dogs, face shields and U.S.-styled helmets. Several had bayonets fixed on their AK assault rifles.

About five squad members are seen briefly pushing back a group of a few dozen students, some wearing skull caps. But the video did not show any signs of violence.

It's not clear if the unit, previously unseen in public, belonged to the police or military, but its deployment signaled that the government is well prepared for street disturbances.

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