Cuba has rarely ever seen a protest to this scale. Many protestors from Havana to Santiago de Cuba were seen yelling “down with the dictatorship!”, “freedom!”, “We want liberty!” and “yes, we can!” recently. The protest started on this Sunday in San Antonio de los Baños
Cuba has surely seen its moments of conflict. This anti-government protest brings up the memories of the Cuban Revolution of 1959 and the Maleconazo protest in Havana in 1994 for many of the old Cubans.
The Reason for the Protest
Many factors have resulted in the rising trend of anti-government protests and fearlessness exhibited by Cubans in a way that has not been seen in recent times. Cuba, like many other countries in the world, faced severe difficulties during the pandemic.
Cuba’s economy contracted by 10% last year. The previous terrible economic crisis that the country had faced was in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. Many small businesses have been affected recently due to the pandemic. The food and power shortage problem has also been a huge source of frustration.
Many Cubans are demanding their President Miguel Díaz-Canel for the callousness and disregard displayed in his approach to international relations, trade and the pandemic. He has been severely criticized for demanding communists to fight with the protestors in the street.
The protests took quite a dramatic turn, with anti-government and pro-government protestors fighting each other. The police had to intervene to maintain peace. The demonstrators outside the Capital building were beaten by plastic pipes, and tear gas was also used. As many Cubans used the power of social media to highlight their protest, the Cuban Government went on to cut off the Internet.
The U.S. has extended its support to the protestors, supporting their freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly. It has condemned the unfair targeting of peaceful protestors by the Cuban Government.
Díaz Canel has been blaming the United States for the protests. He claims that the US-orchestrated several social media campaigns and successfully incited the Cuban population to turn back against its Government.
Relationships between the U.S. and Cuba have certainly soured since the tightening of the trade embargo by the Trump Administration. There remains a slight hope that things can get better with the current Biden Administration.
The Trump administration expressed its dissatisfaction with Cuba’s approach towards Venezuela and tightened the sanctions. Restrictions on the travel of Americans to Cuba has severely affected the livelihoods of Cubans as many Americans loved to visit Cuba on cruise ships and shop in Havana.
By cutting the American tourist population to Cuba in half and affecting the energy supply, Cuba has greatly suffered on an economic level recently. The excitement of the Obama trip to Cuba and the possibility of a great international relationship is now a ghost of the past.
We see how the situation remains disturbed, with long food lines for rationed meat and medicine shortages. The COVID infections are also increasing day by day, and the people continue to criticize the Government for its failure to enact proper reforms and take timely action.