Two demonstrations in cities southeast of Havana, San Antonio de los Baños and Palma Soriano, have revealed this Sunday the boredom of Cubans in the face of the health crisis caused by the coronavirus, the shortage of food and medicine and the power outages that have occurred reported in some of the most humble municipalities in recent days.
According to the testimony of local journalists, videos and images disseminated on social networks, hundreds of Cubans took to the streets this Sunday around noon shouting “Freedom, freedom” and “Down with the dictatorship” in both municipalities, and quickly circulated the rumor that other towns in the interior of the country began to join the protest. Shortly after noon, the claim reached the capital of the country. “Special troops are running through the streets of Havana at full speed and heading towards the Malecón,” reported Cuban journalist Abraham Jiménez Enoa, a columnist for the Washington Post, shortly after noon.
The protests take place when Cuba is experiencing the worst outbreak of the pandemic in a few weeks, a third wave focused mainly on Havana. This Saturday the island reported for the third consecutive day the highest number of infected and deceased by covid-19: 6,923 infections and 47 deaths. However, according to local sources, the claims are also driven by an underreporting of the number of patients and deaths due to a health crisis that the government and official media do not recognize in all its magnitude.
In the afternoon, President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who was in San Antonio de los Baños, gave a brief conference in which, according to the official gazette Granma, said that “a group of people gathered in one of the most central parks to claim, even revolutionary people joined who may be confused by the misinformation on social networks.”
For months the island had managed to control the virus, keeping the infections in dozens, but in recent weeks they have been counted in the thousands. Medical services in places like Matanzas have collapsed, at the same time that basic medicines such as antibiotics or painkillers are scarce on the island. Citizen claims this Sunday are mixed with pressure for the Government to agree to open the borders to receive humanitarian aid, a critical point for the Cuban regime, which has always appealed to the strength of its health system as one of its pillars of exterior image.
The protests come days after the government announced that its vaccine against covid-19: Abdala was ready. Although it has not yet been approved by the WHO, the State Center for Medicines, Equipment and Medical Devices of Cuba, says that it shows an effectiveness greater than 92%.