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"No food, no medicine, no freedom. We are tired": Why do Cuba citizens come out to mass protests?

Author : 112.ua News Agency

Source : 112 Ukraine

Thousands of people on the streets, clashes with the police. All of this is part of the protests in Cuba. The last time, experts say, protests of this kind took place 30 years ago. What happened?
22:11, 13 July 2021

Cuba
Open source

"The day has come: we can no longer tolerate this. There is no food, no medicine, no freedom. They do not allow us to live. We are already tired," the BBC quotes one of the protesters.

The media are clarifying several reasons for the protest. Cubans are protesting against the dictatorship, they demand to provide the population with vaccines to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, they express dissatisfaction with constant power outages and interruptions in food supplies.

Context

Cuba has been experiencing a deepening economic crisis for two years. The island's authorities, according to Reuters, blame the US sanctions and the pandemic for the crisis, while opponents believe that the reasons for what is happening are the incompetence of the authorities and the Soviet-style one-party system.

Sanctions, inefficiencies, and the pandemic have driven tourism to a standstill and slowed down foreign revenue streams in the country.

In 2020, the economy contracted by 10.9%, and by June 2021 - by 2%. The resulting monetary crisis led to shortages that forced Cubans to queue for hours for essential goods throughout the pandemic.

Cuba is being vaccinated against Covid-19, but vaccines are in short supply. And recently the situation with diseases has deteriorated sharply due to the appearance of the Delta strain.

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On Sunday, health authorities reported a record 6,923 cases and 47 deaths. Hospitals in the hardest-hit province were overcrowded.

How are the authorities reacting?

On the whole, in an expected way. They blame the United States and the mafia for the protests and using force against the protesters.

"We are ready to give our lives. They need to step over our corpses if they want to face the revolution. We are ready for anything and will fight in the streets," the media quoted President Diaz-Canel as speaking on state television.

He called on the communists to take to the streets and fight back the protesters. The time has come to defend the revolution, he said.

At the same time, the law enforcers are also "defending the revolution." According to the BBC, in Havana, they beat several protesters and used pepper gas against the crowd.

And throughout the capital, according to Reuters, special forces jeeps with machine guns mounted behind were seen. However, the presence of the police was very intense even after the Sunday protest died down.

In parts of Havana, protesters overturned police cars and then pelted them with stones.

Patria y Vida (c)

According to media reports, some of the protesters used lines from a song by several Cuban dissident rappers that became very popular amid the current situation on the island.

The song has a lot of messages. One of the main ones is the replacement of the famous slogan of the times of the Cuban revolution Patria o Muerte ("Motherland or death") by Patria y Vida ("Motherland and life").

At the moment, the song Patria y Vida already has almost 6 million views on YouTube.

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