Amid the protests in Cuba over the weekend, the country’s newly inaugurated president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, spoke to the country this Monday, 12, alongside ministers of his cabinet.
The agent again blamed the embargo on USA by the country’s economic crisis.
The shattered economy, with problems of lack of energy and food supply (Cuba imports most of the food), are among the main reasons that took protesters to the streets in protests this Sunday, 11.
Protests also called for the end of the regime that has reigned since 1959, with cries of “Down with the dictatorship” and “Freedom”. Reuters witnesses saw at least two dozen protesters arrested.
The Cuban president accused the US of paying influencers to speak to the population against the regime.
“We are observing that in recent weeks a campaign against the Cuban revolution has intensified on social media, around the problems and needs we are experiencing,” he said.
Canel admitted that “not all the protesters are counterrevolutionaries”, and that part consists of a portion of the population dissatisfied with energy and food problems. However, he said he could not fully resolve these issues in the face of the US embargo, stiffened under Donald Trump and until now maintained by President Joe Biden.
“All these themes that are present in our society and are a reason for dissatisfaction, what is their origin? The blockade,” said Canel.
Government defenders also took to the streets on Sunday after Díaz-Canel said supporters should defend the regime. “The order of combat is given: the revolutionaries to the streets,” the president said in another speech yesterday.
the heir of the Castros
Díaz-Canel was made official as Cuban president in April this year, taking the place of then-mandator Raul Castro, brother of Fidel Castro.
Born in 1960, a year after the 1959 revolution, Canel is the first incumbent not to take part in the 1959 takeover. His arrival in the highest positions of government marks the end of an era in Cuba, with the rise of the generation that already born under the socialist regime.
In his career in Cuban politics, and having been vice-president since 2013, Canel has shown himself to be a faithful follower of the Castro regime, but analysts point out that his arrival marks the inevitable beginning of a new phase in which Cuba will have to transform itself in order to continue to survive.
The island’s economy has been hit hard by the fall in tourism and international travel restrictions. Problems in electricity generation were, according to international agencies, the last straw for popular dissatisfaction.
The Cuban population faces a lack of basic items such as meat and dairy products. The country imports two-thirds of the food that is consumed, in addition to buying mainly fuel and resources such as minerals. According to the government, the gross domestic product fell 11% in 2020.
Without access to the foreign market, Cuba also developed its own vaccines against the coronavirus, which began to be applied in recent months.
The island had just over 56,000 covid-19 cases and 1,500 deaths. The daily moving average of deaths topped 20 victims this week, which also raises concern.
clash with the USA
President Joe Biden, who was Obama’s deputy during the relaxation of the embargoes against Cuba, should not make policy review a priority, and he criticizes the Cuban dictatorship. Without giving a deadline, the White House said shortly after Biden’s inauguration in January that Trump’s measures would be “carefully” reviewed.
After yesterday’s protests, Biden said the Cuban government must “listen to the population”.
Before the coronavirus, the Cuban economy had already been hit hard under Donald Trump, when embargoes against the island, which had been slightly relaxed under the Obama administration, again became more restricted.
In the last days of his term, Trump also it placed Cuba in the group of “sponsors of terrorism”, a category from which the country had been removed in 2015. The Cuban government says the measures had an impact of 20 billion dollars on the island’s economy.
Cuba’s leaders in today’s speech stated that the US wants to use the concept of scorched earth, as happens with Venezuela. Canel also said that “one of the first calls of solidarity” he received was from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
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