SHOUTING ‘freedom’, ‘down with communism’ and ‘down with the dictatorship’, thousands of Cubans across their island have, for the first time in many years, taken to the streets to denounce the Communist dictatorship’s repression and failure to provide the necessities of life, such as food and basic medicines. Despite a violent response from the regime, the protests are likely to lead to the final collapse of that Marxist dictatorship, which appears to be in a slow but accelerating death spiral.
Predictably, the regime has blamed the USA for instigating the protests. Such claims have been backed up by western leftists including the usual bunch of Corbynistas. The SNP’s Angus MacNeil even promoted the idea that the Cuban demonstrations were organised by the CIA.
This is all clearly nonsense.
Distinguished Cuban writer Wendy Guerra, recipient of France’s Order of Arts and Letters, explains it accurately: “What is happening is that we have reached a limit of resistance, of tolerance. Cubans now realise, from the information they have through social networks, that the entire supposed revolutionary ideal is amorphous and that they have been manipulating us for many decades.
“There is no design, there is no economy, neither good nor bad, there is no economic plan, and people are literally starving… To buy an aspirin on the black market, which is where it appears, you have to pay 1,000 pesos ($40 US).”
“Get the Americans out of the conversation because they have not made this internal crisis…”, she said. “This is a problem that has been generated by the repression of a government that does not let the people move, that has been with a single party and a single voice for 62 years, despite the ideological and mental impoverishment of its policy.”
Despite the efforts of leftists to pretend that the US is somehow involved or to blame US sanctions, protesters themselves have made their views clear. For example, in this video, a young Cuban protester shouts “we’re here because of the repression against the people. They’re starving us to death, all Havana is crumbling and we have no homes.”
Cuban economic collapse is due to the broken communist economic system which has failed in Cuba just as it has everywhere else. Cubans don’t have enough food to eat and while the government blames the shortage of food on US sanctions the truth is that since 2001 the sanctions have exempted food.
In fact the United States is the largest exporter of food to Cuba.
In reality the shortage of food is caused by Cuba’s systemic economic failure, a combination of the economy’s inability to generate enough hard currency to import food and the continued collapse of domestic food production. State-owned food-processing factories are degenerating due to lack of investment, there is no fuel for agricultural vehiclesand harvests like the Mango crop are left rotting in the fields as a consequence. The Cuban state needs to import products like wheat, which are not grown domestically, but can no longer afford to do so in sufficient quantities. In May Diorgys Hernandez, general director of the food processing ministry, said when he announced a wheat shortage that “the financial costs involved in wheat shipments to the country” were partly to blame. Bread, Cubans’ staple food, is now largely unavailable, or restricted in some cities to only children and the elderly.
As the Cuban economy collapses, the regime’s ability to generate enough hard currency to keep itself in power continues to degenerate. The sugar sector, long a considered strategic asset for the country because of its contribution of foreign exchange through exports of sugar, rum, energy and other derivatives, is a good example. In May the Cuban state sugar monopoly announced that the 2020-2021 harvest was “one of the worst in the history of Cuba” by fulfilling only 66 per cent of the planned amount of 1.2 million tons. That means a harvest of 816,000 tonnes – the lowest since 1908. In 1959, the year of the communist revolution, the harvest was over 6 times larger at 5.6 million tons. Of the 156 sugar mills operating before 1959, only 56 exist today and just 38 of these could operate during the last harvest.
Domestic consumption is between 600,000 and 700,000 tonnes of sugar per annum and Cuba has an agreement to sell China 400,000 tonnes annually. The communists will either deny sugar to the people or cut the few remaining exports.
Speaking at a Council of Ministers meeting the president of Azcuba, Julio García, listed the causes of the low performance as “organizational and management deficiencies”, broken equipment, low quality of raw material and time lost in harvesting and transportation. He added that “financial difficulties, weather conditions, accumulated problems in the infrastructure of the power plants and lack of labour and technology discipline also had a negative effect.”
The Cuban regime faces a vicious circle. It cannot generate enough hard currency to import either enough food or spare parts, so its aging infrastructure continues to decline. Power plants cease to function and the resulting blackouts hold back what remains of the economy. While the communist elite receive special treatment – in form of access to food, medicines and better healthcare – the rest of the population are in dire straits and on the brink of starvation.
But what are we in Britain doing to help the Cuban people? The answer, sadly, is not much. We have done next to nothing to support human rights and freedom of expression in Cuba, contrary to lofty policy commitments such as the global pledge on media freedom. In response to the current protests a Foreign Office minister issued a statement on Twitter calling for ‘calm and restraint.’
Parliament is not much better. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cuba is controlled by unrepentant propagandists for the Cuban Marxist dictatorship in the form of Corbynites such as Grahame Morris and Dan Carden. Few MPs show an interest in the plight of the Cuban people. By contrast the European Parliament has just passed a strong resolution denouncing the regime’s brutal violations of basic rights.
We need in Britain much more vigorous support for the Cuban people and the brave independent journalists and human rights activists who are fighting state oppression. Our government should take every opportunity to denounce the regime’s brutality and trampling over human rights. Continuing to look the other way makes no moral nor political sense.
Screenshot photos of protests in Cuba from NBC news. An earlier version of the article appeared on CapX.