The United States has taken all measures to shatter the island nation of Cuba in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Is Russia next on the list?
This Sunday, protests sparked in the cities of Cuba, when people took to the streets protesting against power outages and shortage of medicines and food during the pandemic.
The riots began in the city of San Antonio de los Baños, in the province of Artemis in the west of the country. People were chanting slogans "Down with dictatorship" and "Homeland and life" (as opposed to Fidel Castro's slogan "Homeland or death"). Calls for protest all over Cuba have appeared on social media as well.
Protests took place in parts of Havana, as well as in provincial capitals of Camaguey, Matanzas, Ciego de Avila and Santiago de Cuba, EFE news agency reports.
In Havana, a group of young people held a sit-down strike in front of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television. The strike ended in verbal conflicts "with supporters of the revolution", a number of protesters were detained. Reportedly, the Internet connection on the island was cut off at about 15:00 local time.
International organizations such as Amnesty International or Freedom House have supported the protests in Cuba and called on the Cuban government to "respect the right to peaceful assembly."
The United States Department of State stressed the right of the Cubans to "peaceful" demonstrations. US Senator of Cuban origin Marco Rubio said the protests were prompted by the frustration of Cuban citizens in the face of repression and human rights violations.
"Protests in #Cuba aren't simply about "shortages” Socialism promises guaranteed food, medicine & income if you give up your freedom When, as always, it fails to deliver you don't get your freedom back That's why the protestors are chanting "Libertad”," Rubio tweeted.
Cuba has been living in the American blockade for more than 60 years under a total embargo on the supplies of technology and any products other than humanitarian aid. Extraterritorial sanctions are still in effect. It is estimated that this has cost Cubans over $120 billion in lost revenue.
This Saturday, Havana reported the largest number of infections and deaths from COVID-19 for a third consecutive day: 6,923 cases of infection and 47 deaths. Due to the pandemic, most of the island is subject to a night time curfew.
The leader of Cuba, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and President Miguel Diaz-Canel, went to San Antonio de los Banos on Sunday and from there urged his supporters to take to the streets and prepare for the "battle."
"We will not allow anyone to manipulate our situation, we will not allow anyone to defend a plan that is not Cuban," Juventud Rebelde quoted him as saying.
As noted by Diaz-Canel, the United States, from the start of Donald Trump's presidency, took measures to strengthen the blockade of the island nation in order to provoke mass protests there. The US also put Cuba on the list of terrorist sponsors.
According to the Cuban leader, the United States has deprived Havana of two main sources of foreign exchange:
This was done in order to, under the pretext of the inability of the Cuban Communists to provide the people with essential goods, to establish a "humanitarian intervention", Diaz-Canel explained.
In his opinion, this "assistance", if allowed, "will ultimately undermine the sovereignty and self-determination of the people, as we have seen many times."
The Cuban President added that the actions of the United States caused an increase in problems related to the purchase of necessary resources for the normal development of the Cuban economy, with the production and distribution of goods and resources, which led to an increase in existing problems and public discontent amidst the pandemic.
We knew that no one would sell us vaccines, we did not have the money to enter the international market and buy them, so we created our own and started vaccination, the president said.
Diaz-Canel noted that Washington's plan to destroy Cuba was obvious when compared to the way the United States acted towards loyal governments.
"Why did other countries that have gone through the peak of the pandemic were not subjected to media attacks, nor were they forced to succumb to humanitarian intervention in order to solve their problems? I think that history and facts show who is behind all this, and why they are trying to discourage and mislead our people," said Diaz-Canel.
"If they (US politicians) are so interested in helping Cuba and solving the country's problems, why don't they demand an end to the blockade and the unjust policy of genocide? What moral basis is there to support the fact that a foreign government can run this policy in relation to a small country in such unfavorable situations?", said the president.
He also warned protesters against mistakes.
"Those who support demonstrations in Cuba do not want Cuba to stay in good health. Their principles, their model is a neoliberal model, this is the privatization of medical services and education — everyone should do their best to save themselves."
The appeals from Diaz-Canel were heard. Pro-government rallies were held in Havana and other cities in the evening under slogans: "I am Fidel" or "Canel, my friend, the people are with you."
Boris Martynov, the head of the Department for International Relations and Russian Foreign Policy of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, told Pravda. Ru that one could see such protest in Belarus.
"There is a hybrid war going on in the world and there is a lot of money involved," the expert said.
According to him, life in Cuba is hard primarily because of the blockade of Cuba, which the Americans have been maintaining since 1961. In connection with ongoing reforms in the field of economy, softening of censorship, new channels have emerged to finance various kinds of opposition forces and sentiments, the expert said.
Boris Martynov believes that the Cubans want to follow the path of China, combining the communist ideology with market economy, but being close to the United States, they act cautiously.
"They are two hundred miles from the United States and cannot allow even the slightest sign of anarchy, not even the slightest excuse — otherwise, intervention will kick off tomorrow. They are running reforms, but those reforms target the Cuban mindset, Cuban history and Cuban geography — this must not be overlooked. There will always be those who will purposefully support those who remain dissatisfied," said Boris Martynov.
According to him, Russia needs to understand that after Cuba, the United States will get to Russia.
"One needs to be calm and stubborn, one needs to keep walking the path that we are on and try not to give reasons to anti-government sentiment. At the same time, Russia should always respond harshly to every "highly likely accusation" that comes from the West. It appears that the West knew about the poisoning of Navalny in advance, as is comes clear from the 2020 OPCW report. Did they organize it themselves, if they knew everything in advance? Russia swallowed the bait and started making excuses again," Boris Martynov said.