First modification: 08/01/2021 – 02:56
The social protests that broke out in Cuba on July 11 and 12 are the most important in more than 30 years. Slogans were heard in the streets calling for more freedom, more vaccines, medicines and the end of the stores that sell products in free convertible currency, among others. The government seemed surprised as the world discovered the multifaceted crisis that the island is experiencing. A crisis that is far from over and, above all, that nobody knows how it can end.
Today’s guests: Stéphane Witkowski, researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Latin America, IHEAL, specialist in Cuba; Delia Arrunategui, freelance journalist, specialist in economics; and Armando Valdés Zamora, professor at the Paris-Est Créteil University, specialist from Cuba.
These intergenerational protests began in peripheral areas with respect to urban centers and, in the capital, in densely populated and highly impoverished municipalities.
Stephan Witkowsky emphasizes that “1994 was a very important moment of crisis for the rafters”. But now “there are two new, different things. The government is totally different, the historical leaders are gone; and the second is the internet, as of 2018. That totally changes the parameters ”.
Armando Valdés estimates that these protests show that “Cuba is no exception. We are already like Nicaraguans, like Colombians, like Chileans, Bolivians who take to the streets. This is neither from the left nor from the right, neither of the young nor of the old ”.
“There is not at all that ghost that the Cuban regime built for the exterior that we are the victims of the empire, when the empire is buying 250 or 300 million dollars of food. Cuba’s problem is not economic, Cuba’s problem is political ”, he assures.
A vision that Delia Arrunategui does not share. “Of course young people demand freedom, but there is also a basic need for food. And the measures that the Trump administration has taken have been very harsh, they directly affect ordinary people ”.
It is difficult to separate the economic from the political. “It cannot be separated when it is part of a set,” he says. “In my understanding there is a serious problem in the economic system that is not working correctly. There has to be an evolution in the economy, in the economic project, that goes in correlation with politics ”.
“The Cuban leaders are very aware of the mistakes. There are many economic mistakes of day-to-day management. There is an evident bureaucracy, the weight of public companies that are not efficient, ”says Stéphane Witkowski.
One of the great challenges of the regime is “to accelerate the updating of the current economic model and to continue the institutionalization of the revolution, without Fidel, without Raúl (Castro), when the historical legitimacy of the 1959 revolution is lacking.”