Cuban filmmaker and intellectual Eduardo Del Llano defended from his blog the right of citizens on the island to mount strikes and demonstrations and to dissent without their being labeled "enemy agents."

Under the title "Manifestarse" (Demonstrating), Del Llano asks "Why can't Cuban workers go on strike? Or students stage demonstrations?"

"I don't believe anyone will claim at this point that it's because only under capitalism is there anything to complain about," he said.

Del Llano is the producer of iconoclastic short features that circulate from one person to the next on video, as well the screenwriter for films by Fernando Perez, Gerardo Chijona and Daniel Diaz Torres.

"A modern, democratic society should contemplate citizens having the right to express their discontent publicly without being called mercenaries or enemy agents," he says.

Del Llano says that that Cuba's state press "reports the beatings suffered by demonstrators in other countries with dramatic photos and articles," adding that in his opinion "police repression of a peaceful demonstration is bad, but not allowing it is worse."

"Contrary to what our government appears to believe, street demonstrations do not indicate that a society is weak and divided. It simply signifies that it is human," he says.

He also believes that today "it would be ridiculous to pretend" that workers in Cuba "have no reason to complain and the only ones who feel troubled are remnants of the old bourgeoisie, etc."

"Any number of people unhappy with the system that we care to use - let's suppose the improbably low figure of 1 million Cubans, which is to say one out of every 12 living in their own country - means that all those citizens, who have committed no political crimes, have no one to represent them in parliament," he says.

As for the dissidents, "it's time to stop automatically seeing them as degenerates and accept that they are - or should be - part of civil society. As happens, for example, in Venezuela," the filmmaker said, referring to the Cuban government's ally and benefactor.

He expresses his conviction that "there will be some mercenaries and opportunists," even as "there are also many fire-breathers and arrivistes on the government side," but believes that "others simply have a different opinion about what is best for the country."

"It would be healthy to at least listen to those opinions and not drown them before they are born," Del Llano says.