Cuba: Anger that Draws its Sap from the Economic Slump

In Cuba, anger has been on the streets since Sunday, despite the crackdown. The island and the Cuban regime had not seen demonstrations of such magnitude since 1994. At that time already, a violent economic crisis had made the daily life of Cubans impossible. Today, similar problems are denounced by the inhabitants of the island: shortages, inflation, with in addition, an extremely severe health crisis that hits Cuba to the heart.

The new figures were revealed Monday, July 12, as President Miguel Diaz-Canel tried through a televised speech to vibrate the revolutionary cord to delegitimize the demonstrations: 6,423 new cases of Covid-19 declared. This makes Cuba one of the countries with the most new infections relative to its population. So far, the island had escaped the first waves suffered elsewhere in the world. From this Thursday, the government will therefore strengthen the restrictive measures. In addition to limiting travel between provinces, it is preparing to impose a two-week isolation for travelers arriving at the airports of Varadero and Cayo Coco, close to two tourist hotspots on the island.

The tourism sector, another victim of the pandemic
The tourist province of Matanzas is the most affected and the government has had to send human reinforcements to support overwhelmed hospitals. In response to popular discontent, some hotels will be requisitioned to accommodate cases in more dignified conditions than before. The measure is facilitated by the fact that these hotels are in reality empty. During the first half of 2021, the number of tourists fell by 94%. However, tourism alone accounts for a quarter of the island’s GDP, which collapsed by 11% last year. It is obviously a vital contribution in foreign currency which has dried up. A disaster for this island which imports 70% of its food needs.

Cubans’ daily life boils down to shortages
Power shortages are recurrent, especially since the Venezuelan neighbor is no longer able to supply oil at subsidized prices. In addition, the island is experiencing drug shortages, which is all the less supported as Cuba exports its doctors and has started producing a vaccine against local Covid-19 and not recognized by the WHO. .

On Sunday, demonstrators targeted shops that only accept foreign currency. A novelty introduced last year to capture the precious dollars and euros. And last month, the regime decided to ban cash deposits in dollars in banks, to promote alternatives to the greenback. Cuban demonstrators also attribute their misery to his internal political choices, while defying the threat of repression.