not sunday Cuba It faced the biggest protest in decades, when thousands demanded freedom and food. The deepest economic crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a surge in COVID-19 cases, power outages and greater access to social media have helped fuel discontent with the 62-year-old communist regime.
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The pandemic has devastated the island’s economy. Without the help of tourism, GDP fell by 11% in 2020, according to Economy Minister Alejandro Gil, the worst decline since the early 1990s, when the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe stunned the nation with allies and business. Partners denied. .
In response, this year the government suspended several subsidies and abolished the two-currency system that had existed for decades. Changes were needed, according to the Cuban Ministry of Finance and Prices, but they also started an “inflation spiral”. Some economists estimate that inflation Over 400% this year.
Cuba managed to keep Covid-19 cases under control at the start of the pandemic and grew Two comments. But the infection rate rose again, even though the island of 11 million people gave 7.5 million doses. As of Sunday, the country had recorded 6,923 new cases of coronavirus and 47 deaths due to COVID-19, both daily records. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said on Monday that having so many infected and isolated people hit the economy, forcing the island to devote its limited power resources to hospitals and recovery centers.
Cuba imports many of its basic products, and the government, with liquidity problems, is struggling to keep shelves stocked. It recently limited the exchange of the Cuban peso for the dollar, one of the key elements of the January reform package, as the government needed money to finance imports. With these problems, along with the widespread economic downturn and rising inflation, many Cubans do not have enough to eat. In addition to the slogans “Freedom” and “Down with Communism” over the weekend, one of the main messages was “We Are Hunger”.
The economic crisis also triggers migration. As of May of fiscal year 2021, the US Border Patrol said it had intercepted 23,066 Cubans, up from 14,015 in the previous full fiscal year.
Cubans are also angry with the ongoing blackout. On Monday, Mines and Energy Minister Livan Aronte said energy rationing has been caused by plant problems, rising electricity demand and US sanctions hindering fuel imports. Venezuela, once a reliable ally of Cuba’s oil supply, is unable to help much as it faces an economic crisis of its own.
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For Cuban officials, there are two reasons for protest: o embankment 59 American commercial and social networks. hey embankment The tightening was done in 2017 to put further pressure on Cuba’s economy and reduce the number of nations willing to trade with the island.
The regime also claims that the US manipulated Cubans through social media to participate in the protests. The number of Cubans with access to social media has increased in recent years. On Monday, the government appears to have banned the access On some sites like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.
– In collaboration with Andrew Rosati.
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