Havana recognizes a fatality and reduces the severity of the clashes by claiming that “worse scenes have been seen in European capitals”
In the end, Barack Obama was right: the opening of Cuba to the world, hand in hand with the internet, would open the eyes of the people. But the Cuban exile was also right: drying up the source of tourism and economically asphyxiating the regime, to the point of not being able to provide the most basic things, would take people to the streets.
The first spark has left at least one dead and around 150 arrested, according to the preliminary balance. The deceased’s name is Diubis Laurencio Tejada and he was 36 years old, as confirmed by the Ministry of the Interior to the official agency ACN. According to this version, he did not die on Sunday, but on Monday, which reveals that the protests continued at least in the Arroyo de Naranjo neighborhood, on the outskirts of Havana, where there were “several injured and detained when the group tried to go to a Police station with the aim of attacking their respective and damaging the facility, “said the official agency.
Little is known about what is happening in Cuba because the government immediately suspended mobile internet, while selectively blocking web pages and applications in a country where very few people can afford to connect at home. “There is a lack of data, but there is also a lack of medicines,” admitted Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla during a press conference with foreign correspondents held on Tuesday.
Confronted with the violence that the Cuban police have applied in the streets, the foreign minister responded defiantly. “I have seen worse scenes in some European capitals,” he counterattacked. Rodríguez admitted that the country is experiencing “a complex situation,” but categorically denied that there is anything like a government crisis. “We Cubans have lived through worse moments and we will know how to solve it,” he said.
There really hasn’t been any like this. The only precedent dates back to the so-called ‘maleconazo’ of 1994, during the shortages and blackouts that have brought back the pandemic and the resurgence of the embargo. During the Obama thaw and the timid opening of the regime towards the self-employed, an incipient middle class flourished, allowing young people to dream of a better life.
Turning back is not easy, after having tasted the honeys of the entrepreneurial class. Now there is a lack of food, medicine and even electricity to start the air conditioners and electrical appliances that were bought in the Dominican Republic or other countries to which the Government allowed travel. For missing, there are even tourists who ask for a dollar.
And what was beginning to be left over was information from the outside world and propaganda from Miami. The apocalyptic image that exile painted permeated the streets, where never before since the triumph of the revolution had shouts been heard in unison calling for “freedom!”, “Down with the dictatorship!”
Lack of cooperation
The Cuban government assures that the spark of 11-J was ignited by a dozen Twitter accounts created in the United States and Spain by computer systems capable of emitting five retweets per second. “You try to do it!” Challenged the Chancellor. The program even changed the geolocation profile to make it appear that users were operating from Cuba, according to the Government’s version, which places the birth of the #SOSCuba label on June 15. It was reportedly created by a Miami company a week before the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly against the embargo.
The Executive of Miguel Díaz-Canel directly accuses the US Government of being involved in the campaign of the Florida company that receives state aid and challenges the White House to deny it if it is not true. The real frustration of Havana is that nothing has changed with the arrival of Joe Biden to power, because he has not repealed any of the 243 measures that Donald Trump imposed in the middle of the pandemic to tighten the embargo. “Even with Ebola, we had cooperation,” complained the foreign minister, who blames the embargo for the difficulties the country has had in obtaining the materials and ingredients for its own vaccine.
The hypocrisy and cynicism with which the White House has asked the Government of Havana to listen to the voice of its people but ignore their clamor against the embargo, is one of the few things that finds a majority echo in the streets. The opposition and the exile think that this is not the time to negotiate, but to push even harder to make the regime jump, weaker than ever in the absence of the Castros. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis even raised on Tuesday how to bring the internet to Cuba to continue haranguing through social networks, but for now that seems as illusory as the flotillas that intend to reach the island to support the popular revolt.
Cubans continue to riot in the streets, but not in Havana but in Miami, where since Sunday they cut off traffic every day. On the island, it is the government that has regained control. For now.