Since June 11, 2021, protests have been taking place in Cuba. USA’s imperialist Mafiosos have laid their vulturine eyes on these events, sensationalizing the demonstrations as evidences of the Cuban people’s disillusionment with their revolutionary government. Jake Sullivan, the US national security advisor, was quick to pose as a full-blown freedom fighter, saying: “The U.S. supports freedom of expression and assembly across Cuba, and would strongly condemn any violence or targeting of peaceful protesters who are exercising their universal rights.”
The reply of Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, was stinging: “The White House National Security Advisor has no political or moral authority to speak about Cuba. His government has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to promote subversion in our country and implements a genocidal blockade, which is the main cause of economic scarcities.” Indeed, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) allocated about $7.94 million to promote Cuban counterrevolution between 2006 and 2010. Since 2017, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has spent $16,569,889 for the same purpose. That is why President of Cuba Miguel Diaz Canal dubbed both these entities as “perverse monstrosities that assiduously strive to attack Cuba”.
The material basis for these propaganda crusades is supplied by the American blockade against Cuba which purposefully undermines the Communist Party’s efforts to sustain the country’s people-centered economy. USA’s economic warfare has cost the Cuban economy the equivalent of $144 billion over the past decades. Between the 1960s and the 1990s, Cuba’s socialist engine was oxygenated through Soviet aid. With the fall of the USSR, the embargo tightened – the US government passed a series of laws to punish anyone who would dare to trade with Cuba.
For Washington, the emergency situation occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic has meant little for the hybrid war against Cuba. Suffocating sanctions have intensified, cheered on by the Miami-based opposition. Cuba’s access to food and fuel has once again been impeded and export earnings have reduced. Measures to tackle the pandemic have required supplementary resources in the context of declining revenues from tourism with the closure of borders. Cuba’s GDP fell by 11% in 2020 – nearly one-third of the total fall the island experienced during the “Special Period” between 1990 and 1993, following the collapse of the Soviet bloc.
Shortages have worsened. Helen Yaffe writes:
“goods shortages on the island have made long, exhausting queues part of life’s daily grind, with Cubans rising at 4am to get in line. Poor agricultural production and the pandemic have exacerbated scarcity… Hard currency receipts were just 55 per cent of planned receipts in 2020, while imports fell 30 per cent compared to 2019. Cuba needs hard currency to purchase on the international market; over half the food, fuel, medicines and other vital resources consumed on the island are imported, hence the unfilled shelves and long queues.”
Yankee gangsters seek to provoke social instability and civil strife, encourage frustrations, and take advantage of the difficult circumstances of a country that has had to wage a difficult battle against the COVID-19 pandemic amidst financial strangulation and the stagnation of its main source of income, tourism. As Raul Castro expressed in a speech before the Cuban Parliament on April 19, 2018:
“one of the permanent commitments of the enemies of the Revolution is to penetrate, confuse, divide and alienate our combative youth from the ideals, history, culture and revolutionary work, to sow individualism, greed, the commodification of feelings and to induce the new generations to pessimism, to detachment towards ethics and humanist values, solidarity and sense of duty”.
In December 2020, Canal elaborated on how the American empire’s imperialist campaigns are destabilizing the Latin American country:
“We have seen projected in real time the old and the new plans of U.S. special services against the Revolution, the product of NED and USAID leadership training courses, including the attention they hypocritically claim to display for the problems that affect and irritate the population, the majority caused by the cruel blockade imposed by the same government that exacerbates them with the goal of fostering discontent, but also by vacuums and errors in our institutions in terms of their indispensable links with those involved in related activities. This is a disgraceful war, that disregards ethics and principles, and under the umbrella of prizes and other perks, via supposed NGOs and agencies dependent on foreign governments, finances groups and actions meant to vilify and weaken the state.”
Despite neo-colonial asphyxiation, the Cuban Revolution continues to survive. The liberatory project embodied in it cannot be extinguished easily. During the closing of the 7th Party Congress, Fidel Castro had declared:
“the ideas of the Cuban communists will remain as proof that on this planet, working with fervor and dignity, can produce the material and cultural wealth that humans need, and we must fight relentlessly to obtain these. To our brothers in Latin America and the world we must convey that the Cuban people will overcome.”
Yanis Iqbal is a student and freelance writer based in Aligarh, India and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously published at Eurasia Review, July 13, 2021
Cuba: Don’t fall for this! We’ve seen this movie before! US Hands off Cuba!
Caleb Maupin on Jul 11, 2021
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Caleb Maupin is a radical journalist and political analyst who resides in New York City. Originally from Ohio, he studied political science at Baldwin-Wallace College. In addition to his journalism, analysis, and commentary, he has engaged in political activism. He was involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement from its planning stages in August of 2011. He has worked against police brutality, mass incarceration, and imperialist war. He works to promote revolutionary ideology, and to support all who fight against the global system of monopoly capitalist imperialism. He is an outspoken advocate of international friendship and cooperation, as well 21st Century Socialism. Find all of Caleb’s books on his website.
The United States tries to take advantage of the price Cubans are paying for the blockade and the pandemic
Cuban government officials and activists have reiterated their demand for an end to the blockade imposed by the US which over six decades has cost Cuba $147.8 billion in damages
Cuba, like every other country on the planet, is struggling with the impact of COVID-19. This small island of 11 million people has created five vaccine candidates and sent its medical workers through the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade to heal people around the world. Meanwhile, the United States hardens a cruel and illegal blockade of the island, a medieval siege that has been in place for six decades. In April 2020, seven United Nations special rapporteurs wrote an open letter to the United States government about the blockade. “In the pandemic emergency,” they wrote, “the lack of will of the US government to suspend sanctions may lead to a higher risk of such suffering in Cuba and other countries targeted by its sanctions.” The special rapporteurs noted the “risks to the right to life, health and other critical rights of the most vulnerable sections of the Cuban population.”
On July 12, 2021, Cuba’s President Miguel Díaz-Canel told a press conference that Cuba is facing serious shortages of food and medicine. “What is the origin of all these issues?” he asked. The answer, he said, “is the blockade.” If the US-imposed blockade ended, many of the great challenges facing Cuba would lift. Of course, there are other challenges, such as the collapse of the crucial tourism sector due to the pandemic. Both problems—the pandemic and the blockade—have increased the challenges for the Cuban people. The pandemic is a problem that people all over the world now face; the US-imposed blockade is a problem unique to Cuba (as well as about 30 other countries struck by unilateral US sanctions).
On July 11, people in several parts of Cuba—such as San Antonio de los Baños—took to the streets to protest the social crisis. Frustration about the lack of goods in shops and an uptick in COVID-19 infections seemed to motivate the protests. President Díaz-Canel said of the people that most of them are “dissatisfied,” but that their dissatisfaction is fueled by “confusion, misunderstandings, lack of information and the desire to express a particular situation.”
On the morning of July 12, US President Joe Biden hastily put out a statement that reeked of hypocrisy. “We stand with the Cuban people,” Biden said, “and their clarion call for freedom.” If the US government actually cared about the Cuban people, then the Biden administration would at the very least withdraw the 243 unilateral coercive measures implemented by the presidency of Donald Trump before he left office in January 2021; Biden—contrary to his own campaign promises—has not started the process to reverse Trump’s designation of Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism.” On March 9, 2021, Biden’s spokesperson Jen Psaki said, “A Cuba policy shift is not currently among President Biden’s top priorities.” Rather, the Trump “maximum pressure” policy intended to overthrow the Cuban government remains intact.
The United States has a six-decade history of trying to overthrow the Cuban government, including using assassinations and invasions as policy. In recent years, the US government has increased its financial support of people inside Cuba and in the Cuban émigré community in Miami, Florida; some of this money comes directly from the National Endowment for Democracy and from USAID. Their mandate is to accelerate any dissatisfaction inside Cuba into a political challenge to the Cuban Revolution.
On June 23, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez said that the Trump “measures remain very much in place.” They shape the “conduct of the current US administration precisely during the months in which Cuba has experienced the highest infection rates, the highest death toll and a higher economic cost associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Costs of the Pandemic
On July 12, Alejandro Gil Fernández, Cuba’s minister of economy and planning, told the press about the expenses of the pandemic. In 2020, he said, the government spent $102 million on reagents, medical equipment, protective equipment and other material; in the first half of 2021, the government spent $82 million on these kinds of materials. This is money that Cuba did not anticipate spending—money that it does not have as a consequence of the collapsed tourism sector.
“We have not spared resources to face COVID-19,” Fernández said. Those with COVID-19 are put in hospitals, where their treatment costs the country $180 per day; if the patient needs intensive care, the cost per day is $550. “No one is charged a penny for their treatment,” Fernández reported.
The socialist government in Cuba shoulders the responsibility of medical care and of social insurance. Despite the severe challenges to the economy, the government guarantees salaries, purchases medicines and distributes food as well as electricity and piped water. That is the reason why the government added $2.4 billion to its already considerable debt overhang. In June, Cuba’s Deputy Prime Minister Ricardo Cabrisas Ruíz met with French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire to discuss the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. France, which manages Cuba’s debt to the public creditors in the Paris Club, led the effort to ameliorate the debt servicing demands on Havana.
Costs of the Blockade
On June 23, 184 countries in the UN General Assembly voted to end the US-imposed blockade on Cuba. During the discussion over the vote, Cuba’s Foreign Minister Rodríguez reported that between April 2019 and December 2020, the government lost $9.1 billion due to the blockade ($436 million per month). “At current prices,” he said, “the accumulated damages in six decades amount to over $147.8 billion, and against the price of gold, it amounts to over $1.3 trillion.”
If the blockade were to be lifted, Cuba would be able to fix its great financial challenges and use the resources to pivot away from its reliance upon tourism. “We stand with the Cuban people,” says Biden; in Havana, the phrase is heard differently, since it sounds like Biden is saying, “We stand on the Cuban people.”
Cuba’s Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz said that those who took to the streets on July 11 “called for foreign intervention and said that the [Cuban] Revolution was falling. They will never enjoy that hope,” he said. In response to those anti-government protests, the streets of Cuba filled with tens of thousands of people who carried Cuban flags and the flags of the Cuban Revolution’s 26th of July Movement. Cruz said, “The people responded and defended the revolution.”
Manolo De Los Santos is a researcher and a political activist. For 10 years, he worked in the organization of solidarity and education programs to challenge the United States’ regime of illegal sanctions and blockades. Based out of Cuba for many years, Manolo has worked toward building international networks of people’s movements and organizations. In 2018, he became the founding director of the People’s Forum in New York City, a movement incubator for working-class communities to build unity across historic lines of division at home and abroad. He also collaborates as a researcher with Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and is a Globetrotter/Peoples Dispatch fellow.
Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He is a senior non-resident fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. He has written more than 20 books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations. His latest book is Washington Bullets, with an introduction by Evo Morales Ayma.
This article was produced by Globetrotter.
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