Demonstrations: In Cuba, the uprising of those with nothing to lose

Creating an unprecedented event, Cubans took to the streets in droves to protest against the regime. They will not bring down the government, but at least they will demonstrate that even in the communist island the power of the state is not unlimited, wants to believe this journalist published by Connectas, a platform orchestrating a collaboration between the media of Latin America.

In Cuba, certain political principles have been rehashed so much that everyone knows them. Starting with the one who postulates that “the street belongs to revolutionaries”.

On the island, politics – and the tranquility of the individual – boil down to one formula: to be or not to be revolutionary. As with Hamlet, it’s all or nothing. For those in power, this means that either we are for the government or we are against it. They are the revolution: they are his heirs and the only ones who have the truth in the matter.

On July 11, 2021, when thousands of people took to the streets to demonstrate in all provinces of the country, something remarkable and unprecedented happened in sixty years. What was fundamental in this event was not so much what it could imply for the future as the fact in itself: that the people take to the streets and occupy a sacred public space, the exclusive property of “ revolutionaries ”.

Around noon that Sunday, videos of the protests in San Antonio de los Baños began circulating on social media, a small town southwest of the capital in the hinterland. From the park, the protesters gathered in front of the headquarters of the Communist Party [PCC, the sole ruling party] and that of the local government. They arrived by bicycle, electric scooter or on foot. They all knew each other and shared the same demands, marching through shouts of “How much longer?”, “There are no drugs, no vaccines”, “Down with the government”, and “Freedom”.

Health disaster

It is less by reaction than by the effect of accumulation that the country has come to this. Cuba is going through a deep economic crisis which has repercussions on political and social life. To make matters worse, a new wave of Covid-19 cases has worsened the health situation, although the first Latin American vaccine, Abdala [produced by the state pharmaceutical group BioCubaFarma, but not recognized by the WHO] , has just been approved [by the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (Cecmed)], that a second candidate, Soberana 02 [developed by the Finlay Institute], is in the process of being marketed, and that more than ‘one million Cubans have already been fully immunized.

The numbers speak for themselves: as of April 12, 2021, just over a year after the start of the pandemic, the island had 467 deaths and 87,385 positive cases. Barely three months later, on July 12, this toll was multiplied by 2.5, rising to 1,579 deaths and 224,914 reported cases. The situation is particularly alarming in the province of Matanzas, where Varadero, the country’s main tourist destination, is located, even if the Prime Minister assures that the resurgence of cases of contamination is not linked to tourists, mostly Russian, who continue. to flock to Cuba.

Cuban Twitter users launched the #SOSMatanzas campaign, mobilizing international influencers and personalities around this hashtag, including [Lebanese-American] Mia Khalifa, [Spanish singer] Alejandro Sanz, [singer Puerto Rican reggaeton] Daddy Yankee, [Spanish actor-director] Paco León, or Residente [singer of the Puerto Rican hip-hop duo] Calle