A boy runs near a Cuban flag painted on a shack with the words “Always on alert” in Havana, Cuba, in 2008. (Claudia Daut/Reuters) If we truly want what’s best for Cubans, we must identify the true cause of Cuba’s suffering.
As protests continue to spread throughout Cuba, much of the world waits with bated breath.
Last week, more than 60 years after Fidel Castro seized power, the communist regime appeared to be in jeopardy, as thousands of Cubans flooded the streets in the largest demonstrations the nation had witnessed in decades. Then the Cuban government struck back, killing at least one protester, arresting journalists, and blocking Facebook, Instagram, and other social-media sites that protesters had been using to communicate.
Despite initial claims from the U.S. State Department that the protests stem from a “concern about rising COVID cases/deaths & medicine shortages,” an abundance of video evidence suggests that poverty and a desire for political freedom are the real root of the unrest.
“The people are dying of hunger!” one woman can be heard shouting in a protest recorded in Artemisa, in the island’s west.
While most of the world has witnessed stunning economic advances over the last half century, Cuba has been left behind. Data show that income per person in Cuba — one of the wealthier countries in the Western Hemisphere prior to Castro’s takeover — is now barely half the world’s average (54 percent), and that the country now lags far behind its neighbors. This may explain why many sympathizers with the Cuban regime have pivoted from denying Cuba’s poverty to rationalizing it.
The media and various left-leaning groups have suggested that the U.S. embargo on Cuba — not the nation’s socialist policies — is to blame for the country’s misery. Black Lives Matter called the embargo “cruel and inhumane.” “The people of Cuba are being punished by the U.S. government because the country has maintained its commitment to sovereignty and self-determination,” the group added in a statement to Politico.
Not to be outdone, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez described the embargo
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