Unpacking the Protests in Cuba

Recent events compel me to post sooner than I otherwise might. First, I’ve received so many questions, including in my professional capacity as a journalist, about what’s happening in Cuba that for efficiency’s sake, it’s easier to condense my thoughts here. Part I is What You Need to Know.

Second, just as many people or more, have contacted me asking how they can help. And while some may be abashed to say it, I’m not: Cubans need help. So for everyone wishing to act in solidarity with Cuba and the more than 11 million people on the island, I’ve put together Part II: What You Can Do. If anyone has other (serious, verifiable) leads for donation, support, lobbying, etc., please feel free to drop me a line or comment.

By way of preface, transparency, and cred: I have built this blog and my not-altogether-smooth writing reputation through a golden rule of only reporting what I’ve seen or experienced first-hand. As a (distant second, seldom-used) alternative, I’ll report what close friends and clear-eyed colleagues have experienced. What follows employs both these mechanisms.

I’m not there now, but I was in Cuba for the November 27 sit/sing-in at the Ministry of Culture and ensuing events through March 2021. Different from what’s happening now, but useful as a baseline for how different things can look when you’re on the ground actually living it, from when you’re watching from afar, observing virtually. I’ve also been in constant, expensive and difficult contact with my friends and loved ones, young and old, in Havana and the countryside.

Obviously, there’s much more to be understood and written about these events, but this is what I’ve got for you right now.  I’ve used numbered, bold sections for ease of reading.  

What You Need to Know

1. Anything on the internet should be considered suspect, false, or doctored until proven otherwise. Cuba and COVID-19 have a lot in common: a perfect storm of historic and novel circumstances converge, fueled by an infodemic and all hell breaks loose. In Cuba’s case, we have 60 years of brewing animosity and policies—on both sides—exacerbated by a pandemic lockdown and four, going on five, years of Trump sanctions. Throw in a rabid, militarized diaspora with some internet savvy (and coaching, I’m sure) and the shit is bound to hit the fan. Oh! Plus the weather.

First time someone has mentioned the weather in relation to recent events? No surprise there. Unless you’ve lived it, weather severity of the type we have in Cuba and how it affects people has probably never occurred to you. But it’s real: two consecutive summers without a beach or pool for cooling off (they were closed both this and last year) , combined with no air conditioning  when there’s a blackout (most Cubans can’t afford it anyway), plus the shortages, plus the lines, plus the economic crisis, plus the MLC stores—of course it’s driving some to extreme lengths.

Conclusion: If it weren’t for COVID-19, we would not be seeing protests in Cuba.  

2. The US and their shills in the exile community are complicit in fueling the violence (and goddamn it: would all of you just stop? You are destroying people and families). We know violence begets violence in a vicious cycle where there are no winners. Think US involvement is some wacky leftist conspiracy theory? This is old hat for Uncle Sam. Just follow the money—to whom it’s distributed and how it’s spent. These are US tax dollars paying for this, which should nauseate you as it does me.

Conclusion: Cuba’s right to sovereignty and self-determination is violated by US sanctions. Obviously, events in Cuba cannot be laid entirely at the door of foreign intervention, but without the money and cage rattling by the US government and exile groups (to mention nothing of the media’s role), I wouldn’t be writing this post.  

3. Too many of us have too short a historic memory and we, as a human race, suffer greatly for it.  Several factors at play today put me specifically in mind of the violent act of war at Girón. Remember Girón? To recap: President Kennedy authorized a military invasion of Cuba by CIA-trained and equipped Cuban exiles, promising air cover once they reached the beachhead. That cover never came and many people died as a result. A tactical oopsie daisy from which I would have hoped policymakers had learned. Wishful thinking. Whatever policy analysis is being done in the US continues to underestimate the will of the Cuban majority to defend their right to sovereignty while overestimating the power and sway of people of Cuban descent off-island.

Conclusion: US Cuba policy continues to depend on counsel from partisan factions and people who are too far removed from what is happening on the ground to make an accurate assessment. This has had fatal consequences like the Bay of Pigs, Brothers to the Rescue and others still classified.                  

4. Pay no mind to the man behind the curtain as he works furiously to distract us from the fact that since the 19th century to right this second, Cuba is a US domestic issue, rather than a foreign policy concern. We need only look at last week: Haiti sinks deeper into chaos and violence, openly requesting US assistance to stabilize the situation and all we’re hearing about is Cuba. Why? And why has President Biden, despite having a ringside seat during the normalization process, despite Dr Jill Biden’s visit to the island, despite his campaign pledges, despite urgent calls to lift sanctions from BLM, Oxfam, the UN and others, refused to change Trump’s policy towards Cuba? Because congresspeople in New Jersey and Florida have his ass over a barrel, posing a threat to his power and the Democrats’ future in mid-term elections. Haiti? Who cares. Cubans? Expendable. Cuba? Capitulate to elected bullies to consolidate power in the Beltway—using florid and moving language, evoking democracy, freedom, and human rights. But only when it fits US interests and narrative.

Conclusion: US policy towards Cuba is about the US, not Cuba or Cubans on the island. As a friend put it recently: the US is ready to sacrifice 11 million Cubans at the Bob Menéndez altar.

5. Too many, including Cuban policy makers, continue to meter todo el mundo en el mismo saco (lump everyone together, ignoring nuance and circumstance). All societies are an organism—a living, breathing, often amorphous and contradictory conglomeration of personalities, individual situations, philosophy, and history. Just like every New Yorker is not a rushed neurotic mess in a perpetual rat race, not every Cuban who has been to the United States is against their own government. Just like not every Floridian is a gin and tonic swilling fogie, not every young Cuban wants to emigrate. Not every Cuban on an overseas scholarship is under the thumb of a foreign government and not every child of Operation Peter Pan is working to destabilize their birth home.

Conclusion: Beware of anything you read that says ‘the Cuban people are doing or feeling X’; such generalizations can’t be applied to any nation and is a blatant tip off that your source is biased. Instead, look for nuance and breaking down of stereotypes—something sorely needed to move us closer to mutual understanding.

6. The limits of Cuban resiliency and creativity are being tested in ways heretofore unseen. Sure, for certain generations and to a certain extent, the Special Period and Bush aggressions were a test. But younger Cubans didn’t live that, they don’t want to live like that and they shouldn’t have to. Their resiliency and creativity are being forged now, during COVID-19. While the pandemic shares some commonalities with the shortages and exposed inequities that typified the 1990s, Cuban youth can’t be expected to channel the same flavor of resilience their parents and grandparents did. They have different sources of resiliency and are as creative, in their own way, but they need a real seat the table and need to be heard—and not only members of the UJC, señores.   

I’ve been writing and talking about waning resiliency for a while. Most Cubans I know are tired, hungry, hot and let me underscore: sad. Everyone I’ve talked to in these past few days—Cubans on the island and off—are crying themselves to sleep at night (when they can sleep) and bone/soul depressed about what is happening. They aren’t in the streets or trolling hate on the internet; they are desperately trying to maintain communication with their loved ones, find food, and keep their mental health from further fraying.

Conclusion: Anyone against violence, anyone wishing to see a peaceful, long-term and sovereign solution, anyone who cares about the health and well being of Cubans and their families, wherever they choose to live, should be promoting resiliency and creativity. How do we avert violence while promulgating respectful, sane dialogue even though we disagree? How do we engage disaffected, disenfranchised or apathetic youth? In some cases is doing nothing better than doing something? Just some preliminary questions that can help inform the road map out of this morass.

7. COVID. COVID. COVID. As a public health journalist, as someone who has lived the pandemic in Cuba and now for the past four months in the United States, the A #1 priority right now is controlling the spread of COVID-19 and treating those that have it.

Conclusion: What is killing Cubans is COVID-19. Not the Cuban armed forces. Not the police. Not the lack of internet or freedom of speech. Not even the hunger, kept at bay via the ration card, as threadbare as it is. It’s the SARS-CoV-2 virus and anything that keeps jabs from people’s arms, medicines from their reach, and food from their table is complicit.

***NOTE: I was not aware when I wrote this that 36-year old Diubis Laurencio Tejeda died during the protests. I regret the omission.***

What You Can Do

1. Promote non-violence. If not, the current shit show could erupt into a blood bath.

2. Don’t be a dot com dolt. Do not share, like or otherwise promote posts, tweets, videos or photos without first verifying the source, date, author and veracity of claims made therein. And see What You Can Do #1 before hitting send.

3. Recharge the phones of your loved ones. This allows you to keep in touch and know they’re safe. Also, phone saldo is used as an ersatz currency that can be sold and traded. I’ve used ding and Fonoma, but there are many others.

4. Encourage critical thinking. Pay attention and actively listen. Dig deeper. Be conscious of subtext including hidden agendas, axe-grinding and hypocrisy. Look for nuance.in

5. Don’t fight on the internet. This is akin to pissing in the wind or fucking drunk: useless, frustrating and messy. Your energy and time are better spent hounding your elected officials for a humanitarian Cuban policy during this traumatic pandemic.  

6. Send money to loved ones. This is more difficult than ever since Trump shut down Western Union to the island but I’ve successfully used Duales which has the option of depositing into a bank account or delivering the money straight to the recipient’s door.  

7. Send food to your loved ones. There has been an explosion of services delivering fresh, canned and prepared food door-to-door in Cuba (side benefit of COVID-19). The ones I’ve used with no problem whatsoever are MallHabana and Katapulk. Not cheap, but assured.

8. Send medicines and syringes to Cuba. Already there are several global campaigns to send urgently needed supplies to Cuba to help control COVID-19, including 30 million syringes so every Cuban can be vaccinated. They have the vaccines because they produced them but they don’t have the syringes. Other options for sending essential medicines and supplies are through the Cuban embassy in your country (except the USA, natch) and now, in your suitcase.

That’s it for now folks. I will update as necessary. Thanks for reading and a huge, grateful hug  to everyone who has reached out with emotional, financial and moral support.

48 Comments

Filed under Americans in cuba, Busting myths about Cuba, Communications, Cuban economy, Cuban idiosyncracies, Cuban phrases, Cuban Revolution, Expat life, health system, Living Abroad, Uncategorized

48 responses to “Unpacking the Protests in Cuba

  1. Andrew Mark Butchers

    Greetings from Guanajay. Thank you Conner, for such a clear article.

    (Can I just say – better not to use Ding, as they overcharge by about 20%. Cheapest are acuba.com and rebtel.com. The current recharge offer includes bonus minutes which can be used to call outside Cuba).

    • More fantastic info from readers!! Thanks AMB.

      So there you have it folks: acuba.com or rebtel.com. Get those recharges going!!

      Take good care in Guanajay (my suegra and familia are in Quivican…not so close, but no so far either!!)

  2. Christine Cushing

    Glad for your update and insight. Massive campaign happening in Canada right now, with monthly humanitarian aid (from Canadians who are collecting medical supplies, food, toiletries, etc., and making financial donations to cover the flight). Passengers are being taken for two week stints to Holguin, and I believe the flight stops in Varadero as well (so supplies are reaching both areas – as we know Matanzas is being hit the hardest with covid). The FB link – https://www.facebook.com/655801929/videos/328203085338349/ and the webpage link – https://www.canadacubacharterflights.com/donate-today/?fbclid=IwAR3TEcaa4JevUUxDFruFaafnKR9ZMc2_85RFwWyBQyWmPuAuhm2xLYKGAo0
    The Canadian Network on Cuba are also doing the same thing (not sure if they are making a collaborative effort, but I have introduced them to each other – more info on their website http://www.canadiannetworkoncuba.ca

    There is also a very active FB group Canadians helping Cubans, where people are reaching out with up to date information on bank transfers, food deliveries, phone recharges, shipments of parcels, travel information – all kinds of information and help going through this very active group.

    Petitions galore, letter writing campaigns to our politicians, maintaining contact with our friends and families on the island to ensure their safety, helping with whatever can be done from a distance.

    • FANTASTIC. Thanks so much Christine for the detailed info and links. I was on a CNC panel this year and it was really uplifting. As I said to Sheila: it is VERY important for Canadians to have their voices heard on Cuba. And Im so thankful for all these comments and support. It really does help keep us going (I say us because none of anything I or Cuba Libro does is done alone; this is a moment for unity against the ills plaguing our modern world!)

  3. Sheila Greene

    Thank you for giving a down to earth explanation of what is happening & what we can do. I will share and hope that the Canadians who have come to respect and love the Cuban people who so openly welcome us will assist in convincing the Canadian people to push to support for supplies especially in the medical field that are so sorely needed. Hugs & stay safe.

    • Thanks Sheila. I encourage all Canadians to also contact their elected representatives. We need an all court press on this and Canada is a very important piece to the puzzle. Take care.

  4. Martha Martin

    Thanks for writing this column Conner. I’ve been stewing since I first heard about the situation in Cuba. I wanted to help but I had no idea what to do. I’ve just made a contribution to send syringes to Cuba, thanks to you.
    I’ve taken to screaming at the two senators on TV who pretend to know so much but haven’t visited Cuba. I’ve been there more recently than they have. Jerks!

    • HA! Screaming at the TV — its like a new Olympic sport or frustrated citizen’s perennial pasttime! But really, we all have to marshal our energy and forces, not let them divide us (powers-that-be always trying to divide and conquer!!) and show full, global support for Cuba and other countries the world is ok abandoning….

      Donating to the syringe drive is crucial. I have, you have, have you lurking reader?? A $50 donation buys 1500 syringes–enough to vaccinate 500 Cubans. BTW – these are being shipped directly from the United States thanks to the hard work getting the OFAC license by Global Health Partners. This means they are more affordable, shipping is cheaper and they will get there faster than if they were shipped from anyplace else. Stay strong and watch your blood pressure!! (I personally have grown allergic to both news and FB)

  5. Molly + James

    Thank you for sharing this. We’ll be passing it along. Figuring out how we can help and feeling all too disconnected. We’ve been trying for the life of us to find your new email address, but we have it written down somewhere and not digitally it seems. Send us a note if you can—we’re normally reading along with the blog but lost track these past few months and missed too much. Please send us a note when you have a few minutes and if you remain stuck in the United States (we’re hoping that you can make it home ASAP), know you have a room here in West Texas. We love you. We love the Cuba Libro family. Sending big hugs to all.

    • Thanks guys. Hope you and all the family is well. Everyone at Cuba Libro is ok and we are just waiting for when the COVID-19 restrictions loosen to open up again. We’ve been able to remain afloat since March 2020 thanks to our amazing community. A LOT has happened since your last visit, as you can tell!! Not sure I have your email either….maybe we can connect on IG? Take care. Abrazos, Conner & Team Cuba Libro

  6. Thank you for your blog. I kniw I’m getting the straighttruth when I read your column ….  Btw, I use hablacuba  por recargas & I send money & food combos with toiletries thru a friend that uses a service that gets it straight to her door in La Playa, Thanks againPaul 

    Sent from the all new AOL app for Android

  7. Thank you for your very informative blog. I am especially grateful to have an answer as to why the Cuban people could not receive their vaccines. I have donated to Code pink, in order to help with the supply of vaccines.
    I ,myself, am now doubly vaccinated and would love to be able to visit Cuba this winter and bring medicine in my suitcase. Can you please tell me if Cuba is ready to receive fully vaccinated tourists? What kinds of food could I pack to bring to Cuba Libro??

    Thanks for your advice:)

    • Hi there. As of July 15, even fully vaccinated visitors have to do 14 day quarantine. This will undoubtedly change as the epidemiological situation improves. Hopefully by the time you’re ready to come it will be a different, better story. Visitors are now permitted to bring in unlimited supplies of food and medicines, but this was just announced and I have no on-the-ground info yet as to what happens with those supplies when those folks arrive.

      Good food to bring to anyone in Cuba includes: high protein snacks (power bars, jerky, nuts, dried fruit); instant oatmeal (or regular oats); vacuum packed tuna; peanut butter; any kinds of grains (rice, quinoa, etc); ramen (Cubans love ramen!!); and more for the soul than body: CHOCOLATE.

      Thanks for all your support. NOW is the time to show solidarity for Cuba

  8. I would also look at this thread from a Cuban Communist in Miami, Florida. Now let me preface this by saying he is not a Stalinist like the Cuban Government is. He is a follower of Leon Trotsky. His brand of Socialism is illegal in Cuba and many Cuban Trots were either jailed or exiled during the 60’s. I don’t even know if any exist on the island anymore.

    But he is painting a very different picture. Namely that the reason the protests are happening in the island, is because the Communist Party dropped the American Dollar for the Euro. Which is the same thing Saddam Hussein was going to do before Iraq was invaded. Because as he points out, the supremacy of America depends largely on their economic power in the world. If suddenly, countries begin to devalue American currency in anyway, you have these “protests” pop up all of the sudden with people demanding democracy.

    He also points out that the protest leaders seemed to be tied to USAID which has been funding opposition groups with millions of dollars since at least the early 2000’s. So this is not a pro-democracy movement. It’s another attempt at a coup in a Latin American country backed by the United States for their own interests. He has a bunch of information on that thread. And he even explains that the origins of the SOS Group actually goes back to Nicaragua when Trump was attempting to overthrow the democratically elected Sandinista government over there.

    As he says,

    “Whenever you see those SOS hashtags pop up, a coup is bound to happen,”

    He updates the thread almost daily. If you are not a fan of large threads then just read the portion on the dollar and euro. He even points out how Gadhafi was removed from power because the US and the European powers feared a gold backed currency that Gadhafi planned to use for Africa to become independent from the West.

    • Thanks for the resource, for reading and participating in the conversation.

      The dollar was abandoned in Cuba because the blockade prevents Cuba from using it on international markets. All other major hard currencies are accepted. I don’t know about what happened in other countries when they departed from USD but I do know, as a political scientist, that comparing different countries, with different histories and culture (the Cuban diaspora and their activist nature is one thing setting the island apart–the second largest Cuban city after Havana by population is Miami, for instance) is a dicey business.

      If you check out thecubamoneyproject.com (linked in the post). you can see exactly where USAID money has gone in the past decade. Millions, upon millions. And any sane analyst would look at how much $$ the US gov (ie US taxpayers) has paid to destabilize Cuba since the 1960s and it hasnt worked. How much good money are they going to throw after bad? It’s a failed policy and hurts regular people — not the govt as anyone who has any clue about how Cuba works knows up close and personally. Frustrating.

      Anyway, calls for a coup from any corner are SERIOUSLY misguided and will cause a regional conflict the likes of which Biden cannot weather. Already thousands of graduates from the Latin American Medical School (ELAM) are rallying behind Cuba; once young US voters pick up the banner, say no to hypocrisy and colonial-style oppression of which the US seems incapable of abandoning. the poop is gonna hit the fan

      • That is the best comment I have ever read in my life. I think I have re-grown some new brain cells that I lost when watching US media. Thank you for that! And yes you’re right it is a dicey business. But what I think he/she/they are saying is that the US has a history of attacking nations of the third world with coups whenever they try to become economically independent. Red is a Cuban American and does a lot of studying even on the current stuff in Cuba. Any chance you have any additional sources on this that you can share with me that I can give to Red? We’re Twitter buddies. I know they would love any input you have to give.

      • Yes, they do love themselves a good coup don’t they? Covertly, overtly, sending/training others to carry out the dirty business. Goes back to Arbenz in Guatemala. Or rather the Monroe Doctrine and Platt Amendment. But I date myself. Who knows about these policies these days? I wish more people did because it might broaden understanding of how we got here.

      • Yeah, and the Coup business is a booming sadly.

      • And everyone Ive spoken to on the island–from all walks and views–is 100% against military intervention.

      • Meanwhile the exiles want the US to send in navy seals and to invade.

  9. Debbie Armstrong

    Thank you for this. I left Cuba on Saturday, July 10, hoping to return at the end of August. When all the trouble started the next morning I was hit hard by all the Facebook posts, videos, etc., and stressed that I would not be able to “go home”. I stopped looking at any FB posts on this whole kerfuffle, because of all the anger. Your blog has reminded me on how I feel about life in Cuba, I have been there many years, and now I can just relax, help where and when I can, and look forward to my return. Thank you 🙏

    • Hola Debbie. I hope you found smooth sailing wherever you’re headed.

      I, too, have largely abandoned FB. I remember interviewing an outstanding woman of Cuban science (a series medicc review has been doing for several years; https://mediccreview.org/cuban-woman-of-science-medicc-review-collection/) who said: “FB is like a solar, with all the inherent gossip and backstabbing.”

      Its important for folks like you, who have a wealth of experience in country, to be heard. Stay tuned because Im organizing some initiatives to move the needle on this issue and straighten the narrative which has become all bent by those who learned how to maneuver on the web and propagate fake news during the Trump administration.

      • Debbie Armstrong

        Hello, I just signed on to your group, through a post I saw on FB. I have searched for “Here is “Havana” on Facebook, so I can share it with other “calm” people. Can’t find it. Are you a FB group, or only communicate with email?

        Debbie Living Aboard La Vida Dulce

      • Thanks for spreading the word. No FB group for the blog…only Cuba Libro has a page and is one of the main reasons Im even on FB anymore.. But people can subscribe to the blog on the righthand menu (I only post once a month at most so folks don’t have to worry about being bombarded). Cheers

  10. John

    Hi Conner ,
    Strange times for sure . A great many Cubans think democracy will change their lives while at the same time a great number of Americans long for a dictatorship with DJT at the helm . The problem is Cuba’s democracy will be like Mexico if they are lucky . There have been 70 political assassinations since Sept . And America’s dictator will be like fascist Germany . I love Cuba and the Cuban people but I have never been hungry and have always been free to do pretty much as I pleased so I feel totally unqualified to weigh in on the discussion except to say Cubans currently have a dignity and reputation rarely found anywhere else in the world . It’s so sad on the eve of the worlds acceptance of a free socialist Cuba the tables are turned by a raving lunatic willing to starve a nation into submission .

  11. Alexander

    Boy, you will make any excuses and lies for communism. I know I am talking to a brick wall with you but communism does not work, you liar. As much you want to blame the US and this supposed embargo which I should remind you that the US embargo bans trades between the U.S. and Cuba, mind you, Cuba trades with Venezuela, China, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, and the Netherlands, oops.
    Trump is no longer the president, so do yourself a favour and seriously get over him. You leftists have a bad case of ex-boyfriend syndrome.
    While people here are praising you for telling the “truth”, you are such a damn hypocrite. Why? As soon tough got going in Cuba, what did your ass do? Ran straight to America. Enjoying the luxuries of food, clean water, and freedom.
    So full of shit 💩

    • Christine Cushing

      Hahahahaha – you rightists are so reliable… hope your blinders aren’t hurting your head.

    • Thanks for proving my point better than I have Alexander!!

      There is so much misinformation here and in the spirit of Snoping your comment:
      1. extraterritorial applications of US sanctions have been in place since the early 1990s with Helms Burton and the Cuban Democracy Act, There are many many examples. Check out the Oxfam report Right to Live Without a Blockade which details examples over the past four years.
      2. All sanctions (242 more during Trump’s tenure) put in place during the last administration are still in place so I will “get over him” when his policies are in the rearview.
      3. I left because I was forced to….thanks to Trump closing the embassy. Guess you missed that bit?

      And just in case anyone else is not as careful a reader as I’d like:
      – I never made any excuse for communism. I making a plea for the inalienable right of self-determination and sovereignty. of a nation and people. Or maybe that only applies in the US, not other countries? (imagine if a superpower like China was doing to the US what the US does to Cuba?)

      Plus, your invective against me personally is revealing.

    • John

      Donald Trump declared the Venezuelan election was rigged ( sound familiar ? ) Then proceeded to destroy the Nation many millions of people displaced and starving tightening the screws on Cuba and Venezuela to steal their oil . The pandemic did the rest . Evil doesn’t come close to describing such a man .

  12. lachinita13

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this piece. Reading this brought tears to my eyes as you so clearly outline the reality in Cuba and the nuanced role that US policy has played in creating daily hardships for Cubans (which sadly many posting on FB/Twitter don’t understand, or don’t care about). Since the protests I’ve been pouring over social media from the left and the right trying to make sense of how the narrative turned so drastically away from the truth. But reading through all of the internet fights is emotionally draining and distracting from the real problem, Cubans need help. I’d love to be involved in any initiatives you’re organizing to move the needle as you mentioned in your reply to the comment above. And I’m looking forward to sharing this post with everyone who asks me “what’s going on in Cuba? why are they protesting?”

    On my last couple of trips to Havana, finally visiting Cuba Libro was on my list, but as you know well, a trip to Cuba never goes as planned! I’m hopeful that in the not so near future I can make it there.

    P.S. Also recommend Rebtel for recargas (no service fee, and also cheapest phone calls to Cuba that I’ve been able to find!)

    With gratitude,
    Emily

    • Thanks Emily for reading and writing in. Yeah: that social media is bad for the mental health, I tell you. Unfortunately, Facebook (or Facebu as Cubans call it) is the hottest thing on the island since sliced bread and night baseball (two things we don’t have there. Ha! Well, there is some sliced bread but fancy and expensive so not the pan diario most people eat)

      I am working on various initiatives now, including collecting medicines and supplies to go down. I will update as soon as I know more. Take care

  13. kelly

    hi Connor, hope things shake out well in the future, maybe it will be as simple as everyone being caught up and vaccinated, looking forward to having a leisure afternoon at your cafe sipping lattes with my friends like the old days

    • That would be grand!! From your keyboard to the rulers of the universe….thankfully, the vaccination campaign is going strong in Cuba and their first (but not last) vaccine has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

  14. Mike Rowland

    Interesting post with lots of stuff I agree with and some I kinda don’t.

    One thing I see missing in lots of comments about Cuba is how dependent Cuba has been on having a sugar daddy. During my life time it was first the US mob selling gambling and prostitution. After Castro came to power the USSR poured money into Cuba to keep it afloat; at least till the USSR went belly up and Cuba enjoyed the ‘special period’. Venezuela stepped in for a while till they they went broke and again Cuba had economic issues. COVID-19 was the straw that broke the camel’s back as it stopped tourist dollars.

    So now Cuba is reduced to begging for basic food stuffs (as an aside Cuba bought $US135,000,000 of food and medical supplies so far this year from the US but did not have enough money to buy more). Like the other islands in the Greater Antilles Cuba is a small island with no real resources to support a robust economy. While the US has made the situation worse with an embargo and wide ranging trade restrictions a lot of Cuba’s problems are self inflicted.

    Bottom line is without a new sugar daddy Cuba will have a hard time creating a good economy and will wind up having to beg even more than it is doing now.

    • Thanks Mike. Theres some stuff I agree with and some I dont.

      Absolutely on the sugar daddy point–theyve never been financially sovereign and while they’re trying to do it now….terrible timing and not set up for success.

      COVID wasn’t the straw that broke the camels back and stopped the tourist dollars: it was Trumps change in travel policies for US folks + shutting down Western Union + COVID.

      Reduced to begging for foodstuffs: also spot on, as is self-inflicted problems as a factor.

      Cuba differs from other islands in the Antilles in that it has a strong, evidence-based bio tech industry and medical services sector which, if allowed to operate without foreign interference, could be a huge revenue stream (and already is the largest hard currency earner).

      For anyone reading this comment: see how we can disagree amicably and productively? Thanks again for reading and writing in.

  15. Saiid

    Interesting to hear your perspective and as a teacher I’ve been trying to show my students videos, blogs and anything really going on in Cuba. You come across lots of interesting stuff. For example, food shortages but then you see videos like this 🤷🏼‍♂️ I wish I spoke Spanish so I really knew what and how this woman can afford food prices that are probably the same outside Cuba and what is her motive posting stuff like this at this time.

    https://youtube.com/channel/UCUfRBLzRhfw3dH-Wn13kiNw

  16. Thomas

    Thank you for the information to directly help.

  17. carrotcake2345

    Hi Conner: Thanks for your nuanced an informative post. Here in the U.S., I feel like my hands on tied on the matter, however we can also contribute to donations for syringes and the like. In terms of broader geopolitical initiatives like ending the blockade, it just feels insurmountable. I don’t feel like we even have a voice outside of the hot-zone of Miami, where the vote has already been cast. Anyways, what (besides your blog) are good sources of accurate information regarding the current situation in Cuba? Many thanks.

  18. Kasey44

    Let’s Face It. The only change that will come to Cuba will be from the Cuban people. It seems one of the only countries that doesn’t demand their rights except for last week and back in 1994. Egyptians have done it and overthrew the govt, although I’m not sure if that success and many other countries. Cuban regime needs to stop playing the bloque embargo for its failings. Cubans are lucky to get money / remittances from Miami or the country would really be in the whole. America is not going to intervene militarily. Not on the radar. The only choice is constant protest and that won’t be pretty but it’s the only thing. Obama tried to open it up but 2021 is different.

  19. Pingback: Unpacking the Protests in Cuba – Noticias viejas para usté

  20. Pingback: Cuba August, 2021: It’s Not Funny | Here is Havana

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