The Cuban People Have Already Started Walking and Are Not Going to Stop

A moment of the demonstration this July 11th in the city of Santiago de Cuba. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ariel Hidalgo, Miami, July 13, 2021 — The Cuban president de facto (because he was never elected by any vote) has blamed U.S. policy for the social explosion that shook the entire country this past Sunday. According to him, it was this policy that generated the critical situation, both in the economic and health spheres, which caused the people to despair.

But any Cuban who lives or has lived in Cuba knows very well that the responsibility for most of the calamities they have suffered for many years does not lie in a supposed external blockade, but in the internal blockade imposed by the government leadership itself against free economic initiative – through high taxes, high cost of licenses, and multiple prohibitions.

The well-known policy of not doing and not letting do: they neither carried out the structural reforms that could have freed the population from so many tribulations, nor did they allow them to improve their living conditions by their own means.

They were not even being asked to return to capitalism with a neoliberal policy. Congress after congress of that ruling party, intellectuals and groups of Cubans formed within that system, demanded an opening toward a more democratic and participatory socialism that would encourage greater productivity and generate an improvement in the country’s economic situation. As that path meant having to renounce the absolute power that they have enjoyed up to now to the detriment of a population in the worst conditions, they did not want to listen.

This government has even rejected offers of humanitarian aid on several occasions, especially in recent months, with the worsening of the epidemic, and has refused to open a humanitarian corridor to help the most affected regions.

Sick people of all kinds deteriorate from lack of medication. The elderly die from lack of antibiotics, and children die, not only from the virus but from malnutrition. Many patients are sent home to die because nothing can be done in the hospitals. The suicide rate, especially among the elderly, has risen alarmingly. All of this they try to hush up. Moreover, during the first quarter of this year, the Government has allocated only 0.003% of its budget to public health and social assistance.

So who are the real instigators of these protests?

Díaz-Canel has also said that “counterrevolutionary” elements within the country have been instigated from abroad, but as he cannot deny that the protests have been massive in more than twenty important towns in all provinces – something in the style of the now disappeared Commander in Chief would be a plebiscite with a very clear result: “out” – he argues that many people are “confused”. But for more than six decades that dictatorship has maintained a monopoly on information by controlling the mass media of communication and dissemination. Who’s carried out the job of confusing the people?

No one can say that they were not alerted. Yesterday’s social explosion was like a chronicle of announced rebellion. At the beginning of 2021, the two survivors of the original nucleus of half a dozen political prisoners that started the dissident movement published in this newspaper and sent to Díaz-Canel’s office a proposal to begin, peacefully and in an orderly manner, a process of changes for the solution to the Cuban problem that would be satisfactory for all, and we warned that discontent “could explode massively with serious irreparable consequences.” The author of these lines himself published on May 21, in the Havana Times digital magazine, the article “The Cuban Leadership is Sleeping on a Powder Keg.”

The government response was not only to ignore the calls, but to further increase the precariousness of the population. In January, with the unification of the currency, purchasing power fell despite the increase in nominal wages, because the prices of goods and services rose greatly. And on June 21, it suspended deposits in dollars, which had allowed citizens access to the products of the basic shopping basket.

Did you think that the population was going to continue indefinitely with folded arms and bowed head, enduring so much neglect and so much injustice?

Now, his response is brutal repression: “The order to fight is given. Revolutionaries take to the streets!” And he clarified, so that there would be no doubts: “We are ready for anything!”

The demonstration was peaceful, a universally recognized right, until police repression and government mobs began, generally repressive agents in civilian clothes.

Many wonder what will happen now. The only thing I know is that the Cuban people have already started walking, and they are not going to stop.

Translated by Tomás A.


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