The toughness of the US embargo has pushed the Cuban economy to its limits. On July 11, thousands of Cubans took part in unprecedented anti-government demonstrations. Shortages of basic goods led to these demonstrations. A speech by Cuban President Miguel-Diaz Cannel has led thousands of voters to demonstrate in defense of the “Revolution”.
Revolution is not a fruit that will fall when it is ripe. We have to move the tree to make it fall “(Ernesto Che Guevara). From the late 1950s until today, Cuba has lived and traveled on a complex path from the world of revolutionary utopia to the world of harsh reality.
The harsh reality of today
This reality is now emerging in the face of an acute economic crisis, forcing citizens to take to the streets again after decades of urging regime change. This time they are not protesting against a dictator like Fulgencio Batista, but against the regime that established the victorious Fidel Castro Revolution.
Anger over deteriorating living conditions has led to the protests. In some areas, households have only had electricity twelve hours a day, with shortages of basic goods and medicines being the norm and not the exception.
by Thanos S. Chonthrogiannis
©The law of intellectual property is prohibited in any way unlawful use/appropriation of this article, with heavy civil and criminal penalties for the infringer.
Shortages bring precision, wages remain stagnant, and tourism, which has eased the country’s economy, has crumbled, causing social discontent to overflow.
The economic crisis is shown by the reduction of GDP (2020) -10.9%, inflation rate (2021) to 500%, with the exchange rate of the national currency 1 Peso = USD 0.042 and the reduction of tourism reaching 57% by hitting GDP, given that the tourism industry accounts for 10.7% of the country’s GDP.
State-owned grocery stores have no food to offer. The internet, although still in its infancy, was the vehicle through which social outrage was ignited. The people demonstrated in many cities with slogans such as “Homeland and Life”, “Freedom”, “Down with the dictatorship!” and “Leave!”.
A 36-year-old protester was killed in the Guinera district. Hundreds were injured, some were missing and even more were arrested. The government appeals to the people to guard the revolution. At the same time, pro-government demonstrations are being organized, with the risk of the situation being diverted to civil strife between citizens.
Achievements and failures
Fidel Castro’s Revolution from 1959 to the present includes both achievements and failures. Amnesty International has been forced to acknowledge the significant progress made in Cuba in terms of health and housing services, as well as the great effort made to eradicate illiteracy.
Despite significant investments in both education and health, Fidel Castro, due to the US embargo, slipped into an authoritarian regime in order to protect and prolong the Revolution. He persecuted his political opponents, slipping into a form of dictatorship suppressing civil liberties.
It remained a country without elections, with significant distortions in the economy, politics and human rights. Under the influence of the USSR, the Castro regime went on a wave of nationalizations, and after the fall of the USSR ceded rights to private initiative.
The US embargo from 1960 to 2014 had caused damage to the Cuban economy approaching $ 1 trillion. It is the harshest and longest-running economic blockade humanity has ever experienced.
The President of Cuba comes from the bowels of the Cuban bureaucracy. It inherited a highly problematic situation involving two parallel currencies, the growing inability to finance social benefits (including health and education donations) and growing social inequalities.
Current US policy
Joe Biden’s policy is under fire from his own party because it completely nullifies the very correct (in our opinion) President Barack Obama’s openings. But the policy of US President Joe Biden seems to be guided by the great political power of the exiled Cubans of Florida who for more than sixty years are trying in every way to get their property behind the “Fidel Castro Revolution”.
Unfortunately, US policy toward Cuba has remained unchanged since 1960, always aiming to implement policies that have led to lower incomes, hunger, and despair to deter the government.
Cuba no longer poses a threat to American national security as it did during the Cold War, nor is it a role model for other Latin American countries.
Cuba, however, maintains a strong political symbolism for American foreign policy. The collapse of the regime in Cuba will appear in the US and internationally as an American victory, even if the practical repercussions of such a victory will be limited. That is why American foreign policy coincides with the interests represented by exiled Cubans in Florida.
The question now is whether the Cuban regime will be able to survive by conceding political freedoms and reforms or will collapse under the pressure of popular anger. It is difficult to survive because its resources are scarce, and given Cuba’s almost free oil supplier, Venezuela, it is in dire straits.