Why Cuba seems to be on brink of another revolution – Times of India


Early on Thursday, Cuban-American rapper Pitbull tweeted a “message to the world” about Cuba. “If you don’t understand what’s going on, then you need to wake the f#@k up,” he said in an impassioned 2-minute speech that had clocked many thousands of likes by morning. So, what’s going on in Cuba?
A ‘life and death’ struggle
The communists, who have ruled Cuba since 1959, coined the slogan ‘patria o muerte’, which means ‘homeland or death’. But in the streets of Cuba’s cities a different cry is ringing now: ‘patria y vida’ — homeland and life. It’s a call to take back the country from the regime.
What Cuba is going through right now — and nobody denies this — is a struggle between the two camps. But the details differ depending on where you are getting your news from.
NPR reports: “Cuba is suffering through a summer of dire shortages, from food and electricity to medicine. Fed-up Cubans are taking to the streets in unprecedented protests.” The Washington Post also says the protests are “among the most significant displays of dissent since the Cuban revolution of 1959.”
But head over to Granma, the communist party’s newspaper, and the picture appears flipped. “A group at the service of foreign and annexationist interests, paid and directed by the US, was looking to provoke a social explosion,” a report says.
A true picture is hard to get because “the internet is controlled by the regime, and it appears it has either been cut or is very limited,” NPR reporter Carrie Kahn says.
Is Cuba’s government at risk of being toppled? Nora Gámez Torres, who reports for the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, tells NPR the most likely scenario is the government retaining control. Nevertheless, “Cubans now see what they can do if enough people protest. So the genie is out of the bottle.”
Hit on all sides
Why is Cuba facing turbulence now? Adam Taylor explains in the Post that it’s been hit by a perfect storm of bad luck.
First, Covid shaved off 11% of its GDP. Foreign tourist arrivals fell 94%, shutting off a major source of dollars. Its compadre Venezuela’s economy collapsed, stalling the supply of subsidised oil and starting a severe power shortage. There is also the old US economic embargo — made worse under Donald Trump — which Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel blames for the crisis.
For a country that imports 70% of its food supply, the dollar crunch was bad enough. To compound it, Cuba dismantled its 30-yearold dual-currency system at the wrong time, leading to a price spiral “that threatened people’s survival,” a long Twitter thread by the handle @red_dilettante explains.
Cubans today are reeling under shortages and soaring prices. As the protesters’ anthem ‘Patria y Vida’ says, “at home the casseroles no longer have any food.”
Musicians, writers and artists have also become a force behind the protests, says Taylor. The Patria y Vida music video, for example, has been watched 6.5 million times. And then there’s social media to amplify the message. A protester tells The New York Times: “The only thing that gave us the bravery to hit the streets was seeing that other people were also doing it.”





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