Thousands of Cubans went to mass protests – there is a new outbreak of coronavirus in the country: almost 7,000 new cases and 47 deaths in just one day
Over the past year, the Cuban economy has shrunk by 11 percent – and this is the lowest figure in the last 30 years. The government began arresting the discontented, accusing the United States and local activists of trying to counterrevolution.
The protesters in Cuba were supported by thousands of refugees from the island living in Florida. They were joined by Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio – he claims that Cubans demand not only the fight against the coronavirus and food but also greater freedoms.
Thousands of Cubans took to the streets of large cities – Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and Camaguey – demanding that the government resolve the situation with food prices. Over the past few weeks, food prices on the island have skyrocketed due to food shortages.
According to Giovanis Gonzalez, a participant in the demonstration, he took to the street because “they (the government) are against the people, they want our starvation. Havana is at the limit, we have no normal housing, there is nothing, but the government has money to build expensive hotels, we are starved.”
The Cuban economy, one of the main sectors of which is tourism, has declined by 11% over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another important source of income is sugar production – this year’s sugar cane harvest is worse than expected, there is not enough fuel and equipment in the country to collect it. In turn, the government’s reserves were reduced so much that Cuba could not afford to buy imported products to meet the demand for essential goods.
According to one of the protesters, she “has nothing to cook from, and the electricity was turned off more than 20 times in one day.”
Cuba also lacks medicines for the treatment of COVID-19 and its consequences. There are 32 thousand active cases of coronavirus in the 11-million-strong country; almost seven thousand of them were registered on Sunday.
Cuba has refused Chinese and Russian vaccines, as well as participation in the COVAX initiative. Local specialists have developed two of their own vaccines, Adbala and Soberana-2, but they are not enough – only 15 percent of the population has been vaccinated in the country.
How did the government respond?
In response to the peaceful actions of the protesters, the police began to arrest and beat their participants, several dozen people went missing – the police and special services do not inform the relatives of the activists about their detention.
According to Miguel Rodriguez, a demonstrator, he and his young daughter were beaten by state security officers only because they took to the streets.
Catholic priests and monks joined the protests. According to Father Jorge Luis Gil, “people took to the streets to freely express their opinion, they are being repressed and beaten, this is unacceptable, and we also came out to prevent this. We are nobody, but we want to support the protesters and forbid beating them.”
President Miguel Diaz-Canel organized a rally in his support, then went out into the street, actively communicated with Cubans and journalists, accusing participants and supporters of the protests, as well as activists from YouTube of trying to counterrevolution.
According to the President of Cuba, “the country cannot make 12 million vaccines in one day so that there is enough for everyone at once.”
According to Diaz-Canel, the protests are allegedly organized to “discredit, destroy and provoke.”
He told reporters: “We have come to tell the revolutionaries of this city that the streets belong to them and that no worms and counter-revolutionaries will be able to take them away. If they provoke us, we will apply revolutionary laws without violating their constitutional rights. If you want so much good for the Cuban people, first lift the blockade, and do not tell me that this government is not effective, that it acts harshly, or that we have a dictatorship here.”