The Hidden Hand of the US Blockade Sparks Cuba Protests
by Medea Benjamin and Leonard Flores
July 13, 2021
(Common Dreams) Protests erupted in various Cuban cities the weekend of July 11 over dire economic conditions and a surge in Covid-19 cases. They are the biggest protests to hit Cuba in three decades, and they may well continue in the coming weeks. They come on the heels of artists' protests in Havana at the end of 2020, and have extended to many parts of the island. But their scale has been exaggerated by the Western press and by Cuban Americans who have been predicting, for 60 years, the imminent fall of the Cuban government.
Media outlets like The New York Times wrote about "hundreds of Cubans" while Reuters described them as thousands. In either case, Cuba has a population of 11 million people. The protests pale in comparison, both in terms of turnout and in state repression, to mass mobilizations that have rocked Colombia, Haiti, Chile, Ecuador and other Latin American countries over the past few years—or even Portland, Oregon, or Ferguson, Missouri. Moreover, U.S. media have paid little attention to the counter protesters, who have gone out into the streets to express their support for the government and Cuban Revolution. This includes Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who marched in the streets of Havana after denouncing the protests as an attempt to "fracture the unity of the people."
The protests should also be understood in the context of a brutal economic war waged by the United States against the island nation for more than 60 years. This was laid out clearly by the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in 1960, when he explicitly called for "denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government." This strategy has failed in its goal of regime change for decades, and it is unlikely to be successful now.
Admittedly, this is a "media report" upon which I rely to give me a picture of what is happening in Cuba. Personally, I have never visited the country. However, I have attended events featuring visitors from Cuba and have had discussions with people who have visited that country. The tone of this article is consistent with impressions I have received from those personal experiences.