Tens of thousands of Cubans took to the streets of Havana Sunday, rising up in protest against the communist government, shouting “Freedom!”, “Enough!” and “Unite!” They are demanding the government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel be dissolved and free elections held. The protesters also denounced food shortages, high consumer prices, and the terrible impact the CCP virus outbreak has had on the island nation.
Initially, police did not interfere directly, but trailed the protesters through the famed Malecon Promenade. Then one demonstrator unfurled an American flag in front of police. It was quickly snatched away and security forces moved in to try to break up the huge gathering.
The protests erupted amid Cuba’s worst economic crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union, its old ally and benefactor. Thousands took to the streets in various parts of Havana including the historic center, their shouts of “Diaz-Canel step down” easily drowning out groups of government supporters waving the Cuban flag and chanting “Fidel.”
The Caribbean island nation of 11 million inhabitants where public dissident is usually restricted has seen a growing number of protests over the past year although nothing on this scale has occurred nor have such demonstrations begun simultaneously in so many cities.
Sunday’s anti-government demonstrations were the largest since the summer of 1994, said Michael Bustamante, an assistant professor of Latin American history at Florida International University.
“Only now, they weren’t limited to the capital. [The demonstrations] didn’t even start there, it seems,” he said.
Sunday’s demonstrations broke out at around midday in San Antonio de los Banos municipality in Artemisa Province, bordering Havana. Video on social media showed hundreds of residents chanting anti-government slogans and demanding everything from coronavirus vaccines to an end of daily blackouts.
“I just walked through town looking to buy some food and there were lots of people there, some with signs, protesting,” resident Claris Ramirez said by phone to America’s Conservative Voice. “They are protesting blackouts, that there is no medicine.”
There were protests later on Sunday hundreds of miles to the east in Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, where social media video showed hundreds marching through the streets, again confirmed by a resident.
“They are protesting the crisis, that there is no food or medicine, that you have to buy everything at the foreign currency stores, and on and on the list goes,” the resident, Claudia Perez, said in another phone interview with America’s Conservative Voice.
The protests in Havana started around 3 p.m. and fizzled out around 8 p.m., with some protesters giving up after security forces thwarted their attempt to reach Revolution Square
Cuba has been experiencing a worsening economic crisis for two years, which the government blames mainly on U.S. sanctions and the pandemic, while its detractors cite incompetence and Cuba’s Soviet-style one-party system.
A combination of sanctions, inefficiencies and the pandemic has shut down tourism and slowed other foreign revenue flows in a country dependent on them to import the bulk of its food, fuel and inputs for agriculture and manufacturing.
Special forces jeeps, with machine guns mounted on the back were seen throughout the capital and the police presence was heavy even long after most protesters had gone home by the 9:00 p.m. curfew in place due to the pandemic.
“We are going through really difficult times,” said Miranda Lazara, 53, a dance teacher, who joined the thousands of protesters who marched through Havana. “We need a change of system.”
Diaz-Canel, who also heads the Communist Party, blamed the unrest on old Cold War foe the United States, which in recent years tightened its decades-old trade embargo on the island, in a televised speech on Sunday afternoon.
Despite the nearly unprecedented public protests in Cuba, unless Americans are watching conservative cable channels or reading conservative online or print publications, they don’t know this happened.
Monday morning, there was absolutely no mention of the historic protest on the CNN or MSNBC websites’ home pages. Moreover, the socialists in Congress have been loudly silent about the events just 90 miles off our shores. No airtime whatsoever was devoted to video or reporting on the demonstrations through the Sunday afternoon news programs on the two channels.
The New York Times covered the events in Havana, but the coverage was negative. The paper’s social media department sent out this tweet:
It is the best example we have so far that the Fascists in media and government — both in the U.S. and the world — suffer from the belief that freedom is a gift of government, not from the Creator as our Declaration of Independence makes known. Further, the modern U.S. Fascists adhere to the idea that if a people do not have freedom but demand it, they are anti-government.
The people of Cuba are not anti-government. They are anti-communist. Those now living in the U.S. made terrible sacrifices to make a dangerous trip across the waters of the Gulf of Mexico to gain the freedom their government refused to grant them.
The media is joined in its failure to acknowledge the truth. The Biden administration had difficulty coming to terms with the unrest in Havana. The State Department put out a statement blaming the demonstrations on the CCP virus outbreak, ignoring the primary demands for freedom and release from tyranny.
That raised the ire of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a second-generation Cuban-American, who slammed State in comments made on Twitter Sunday.
“”People in Cuba are protesting 62 years of socialism, lies, tyranny & misery, not ‘expressing concern’ about rising COVID-19 cases/deaths. Why is it so hard for @Potus & the people in his administration to say that?”
By: Mike Nichols
Read more of Mike’s work here: https://mikenichols.substack.com