What’s Really Going on in Cuba
by Helen Yaffe
July 23, 2021
https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/07/23 ... n-in-cuba/
(Counterpunch) On Sunday 11 July, dozens of anti-government protests, apparently coordinated via social media, took place simultaneously throughout Cuba. In several places, including in San Antonio on the outskirts of Havana and in Matanzas, where Covid-19 cases have been surging, protests turned violent, with windows smashed, shops looted, cars overturned, rocks thrown and people assaulted.
The international media has exaggerated and manipulated these events to depict mass opposition to the Cuban government, police repression of peaceful protests and a regime in crisis. Meanwhile, the role of external forces, the existence of a concerted social media war on Cuba, the pernicious impact of US sanctions and the mobilisation of thousands of Cubans in support of the revolutionary government have been deliberately downplayed or ignored.
In most of the Americas, including in the US, such social disturbances are common, and often involve serious casualties and multiple arrests. In Cuba, however, the last violent protest was the Maleconazo uprising in 1994 – the worst year of the so-called ‘special period’ of economic crisis in which Cuba’s GDP fell by 35% after the collapse of the socialist bloc which accounted for nearly 90% of Cuba’s trade. Hoping to push the country over the edge, the US government enacted the Torricelli Act in 1992 and Helms Burton Act in 1996, tightening US sanctions and obstructing Cuba’s trade with the rest of the world. While scarce resources were harnessed to prioritise welfare, Cubans faced shortages in every sector: food, fuel, medicines, housing, industry, transport, and so on. Life was tough.
These conditions are returning to Cuba today as a direct result of US sanctions. Reversing Barack Obama’s tentative rapprochement, the Trump administration tightened the US blockade to unprecedented levels, adding 243 new actions, measures and sanctions to cut off Cuba’s trade with the world, fine ships carrying fuel to Cuba, scare away foreign investors, block remittances and family visits, and prevent Cuba’s access to the international financial system which is dominated by US dollars.
Over 50 of those coercive measures have been taken since the beginning of the pandemic…
Cubans take part in a mass rally in defence of the Cuban Revolution and calling for an end to US sanctions, July 2021.
Photo: Helen Yaffe.