U.S. Policy Implicated In Economic Crisis Driving Cuban Protests

By People’s World\W.T. Whitney Jr.

Photos: YouTube Screenshots

Hundreds of Cubans demonstrated peacefully in Santiago de Cuba and other cities across the island on March 17.  Portrayed in some U.S. corporate media outlets as “anti-government” protests, the demonstrations were focused on electrical power outages and food shortages.

The protests were reacting to an accumulation of great economic difficulties that have assaulted Cubans and their government alike for decades.

Cuba is in the midst of a sharp economic crisis. Surging inflation is battering the economy, which shrank by almost 2% last year. Fuel prices rose by more than 500% just this month, while electricity rates climbed 25%.

Exports for 2023 were far below predictions, food production was less than 2022, and tourism income has only recovered to 69% of pre-COVID levels. Shortages of fuel and other supplies—largely because of the U.S. blockade—continues to hamper production in most sectors.

The dire circumstances are driving a mass exodus of Cubans; 425,000 migrants arrived in the United States in 2022 and 2023. Among those leaving are 9% of Cuba’s healthcare workers and thousands of educators. These departures have further aggravated the economic situation.

Responding to the Sunday demonstrations, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel pointed out on social media that “enemies of the Revolution are trying to take advantage of a context [of shortages] for destabilizing purposes.” He noted, “In the last hours we have seen how terrorists based in the United States…are encouraging actions against the country’s internal order.”

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