Protests In Cuba Lead To Arrests
Over the weekend, Cuba exploded into an island of chaos and unrest. Thousands of Cuban residents all over the country took to the streets to protest the current state of their nation, calling for freedom and for the downfall of their communist government.
The rapidly growing movement, in truth, was about far more than just freedom. There were several reasons for the unrest, the main ones being the worsening Covid-19 and economic crises and the tightening of internet restrictions.
For a lot of the past 16 months, Cuba has remained relatively stable and safe when it comes to battling Covid-19. The number of cases and deaths remained relatively low, and hospitals weren’t being overwhelmed. For example, just under a year ago, in August of 2020, Cuba saw a record-breaking 93 cases in a day, and even that number was being treated like a crisis at the time.
However, when you fast-forward to the present, things have absolutely fallen apart. Over the past couple of weeks, cases have been sky-rocketing, with records being broken all throughout last week. On Sunday, Cuba officially reported 6,750 new cases for that day. Just to put that into perspective, that number is about 72.6 times higher than the record-breaking 93 cases they saw in August of last year. What’s even worse is the fact that many experts and residents believe that the actual number of cases was far higher than that. Because of all these new cases, hospitals are being completely overwhelmed, putting many on the edge of collapsing. Recently, there have been more and more complaints of people facing medical neglect and suffering severe illness or even death because they were being sent home without treatment.
What doesn’t help right now is the fact that despite Cuba making their own Covid-19 vaccine, the circulation of doses has been extremely limited. This means that a very small portion of the Cuban population has actually been vaccinated at this point. With that being the case, plus the fact that Cuba has a notably older population, the chaos and worry has been rising within the Cuban residents.
Cuba’s economic situation isn’t helping matters either. Due to the pandemic situation, there has been close to zero tourism throughout the country. This is a major problem, because tourism is one of Cuba’s main means of income for its residents. Without that income, many have struggled to remain financially stable.
Beyond that, the government has been adding restrictions on how currency can be spent. For example, they have restricted the use of American dollars, which is a very common source of foreign income for Cubans. The Cuban government’s reason for doing this is in response to the sanctions placed on the country by the United States which have not been lifted or loosened by the Biden administration.
The government has also created shops that only accept foreign currency, which has been frustrating a lot of the population, due to the fact that most Cubans get paid in Cuban pesos. It has become commonplace for there to be lines of people looking for different items such as soap or meat.
One other economic issue that has been growing consistently worse is the existence of inflation. As time has gone on, the prices for goods have been increasing, and it is becoming more apparent and more rapid. Even when the Cuban government released economic relief packages to help raise wages, the prices for goods rose as well. Some people expect the inflation to continue, with some experts predicting that the inflation rate could get as high as 900% in the coming months. And with no set timeframe for the restart of tourism in sight, Cuba could be in for a world of hurt economically if they don’t take action.
Lastly, there has been an increase in internet restrictions imposed by the Cuban government over the past few days. Most of their action has been to try and block Cuban residents from accessing social media. So far they have blocked Facebook and Instagram, along with a few others. At the time of writing there has been no block on twitter, but they do have the power to block the platform whenever they please.
This block is nothing new. This is a tactic that the Cuban government has used multiple times in the past to try and quiet outbursts and protests. With social media being the main way Cuban residents get their external news, and with it being a major form of communication, it often seems to work in the government’s favor. This is what has brought them to do it again, even going as far as to have a 30-minute blackout of the nation’s entire internet.
Despite the Cuban government’s effort to keep the protests quiet, the word got out in time. There have been protests outside of the country’s borders in support of the people. Many of these protests are taking place in Florida, which sits about 90 miles from the island. Two major showings have been in Jacksonville and Tampa Bay, where hundreds of people have given their support to the Cuban peoples’ cause.
Even Florida’s politicians have chimed in, with people on both sides of the aisle having something to say. Florida’s governor, Ron Desantis, sent out a tweet which said, “Florida supports the people of Cuba as they take to the streets against the tyrannical regime in Havana. The Cuban dictatorship has repressed the people of Cuba for decades & is now trying to silence those who have the courage to speak out against its disastrous policies.”
Florida’s Democratic party chair has asked the American people to continue standing with the Cuban people and is looking for the Biden administration to coordinate a response to this situation.
The Biden administration responded to the protests Monday. It was decided that the Trump-era sanctions would be lifted. This decision comes after months of it being reiterated that Cuba was not among the President’s top priorities. With this situation growing more intense, however, it has had to move up the list, and now it will be seen where the President stands in terms of policies surrounding Cuba.
With things remaining unsolved in Cuba, plus the growing attention to the situation here in the United States, there will be much more to come from this story. If you want to get all of the breaking news about this matter, or about any other major story, then go follow us on Twitter. There, you will receive all of the latest updates and breaking news every single day.