Thousands of people have joined protests in Cuba over increasing prices of food, power shortages and rising cases of COVID.
People began taking to the streets in San Antonio de Los Banos in the west of the island, with protests following in the capital Havana when word spread.
One protester said, “I’m here because of hunger, because there’s no medicine, because of power cuts—because there’s a lack of everything.”
The country is experiencing a severe economic crisis due to Donald Trump’s tightening of US sanctions and the impact of COVID on the tourism industry.
The US imposed an economic blockade on Cuba in the wake of its 1959 revolution, and has sought to undermine the regime ever since.
It will try to use popular opposition to its own advantage.
But workers and the poor in Cuba have a right to protest the regime’s failures and the growing economic instability. Inequality has increased in Cuba due to the government’s response to the economic crisis. In an effort to attract foreign capital it has opened up large areas of the economy to private business.
Those who have families working abroad and receive remittances in foreign currency have privileged access to extra food and other goods.
Police thugs were sent in to crack down on the protests and a number of left-wing activists were arrested.
They included Frank Garcia Hernandez, a critical Marxist historian and academic. Also seized was Maykel Gonzalez Vivero, director of Tremenda Nota, an important online magazine in defence of LGTB+ rights. Both have since been released but confined to house arrest. Others are still in jail.
Cuba’s ability to stand up to US bullying and economic pressure for over six decades should be a source of admiration for anti-imperialists everywhere.
But this does not make Cuba a model society, and it has never been genuinely socialist or democratic.
We should demand the end of US sanctions on Cuba, and oppose US efforts to extend its influence into the country.
But workers in Cuba also have a right to dissent and to determine their own future.