Are the Cuban people moving to end dictatorship?

Map of Cuba, circa 1680.

Map of Cuba, circa 1680.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s something Bryan tried to post, but it mysteriously disappeared on him. So I’m hereby posting it for him, in appreciation for his recent efforts to keep this blog alive when I’m too tied up with stuff to do so (which I still am). I, too, have been thinking about the Caribbean, and not just because my youngest daughter lives down there and, after a too-short visit, is returning there tomorrow. I’ve been wanting to write something about Haiti. Maybe I’ll find time at some point…

Over the weekend, protests moved into the streets of various cities in Cuba.

It looks like the protests started over the chronic issue of food shortages and other essential products and services. The pandemic has only made conditions on the island country worse. The protesters also demanded vaccines to combat the pandemic, but began shifting in tone with chants of “Freedom!” and “Down with Communism!”

The New York Times has this:

Shouting “Freedom” and other anti-government slogans, hundreds of Cubans took to the streets in cities around the country on Sunday to protest food and medicine shortages, in a remarkable eruption of discontent not seen in nearly 30 years.

— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 11, 2021

Freedom and other anti-government slogans?” sort of seems an odd thought, but… whatever. If your government is ever on the other side of things from people legitimately asking for “Freedom,” you’re doing something wrong.

In any event, I certainly hope the people of Cuba are allowed to be free to choose their own form of government at some point. If this protest turns violent the current lack of medicine and food is going to exacerbate the poor conditions that already exist.

20 thoughts on “Are the Cuban people moving to end dictatorship?

  1. Bryan Caskey

    Thanks for the technical assist. I’m not sure what glitch in the Matrix got me. I guess the protests have sort of either quieted down or been put down. Seems like the Cuban people will probably continue under a dictatorship for the time being.

    Wonder if that will ever change…

  2. Barry

    The embargo allows the government to blame the United States for everything.

    If the dictatorship ever ends, it will be because the Cuban people decide to do it themselves.

    Did anyone hear the Republican Mayor of Miami advocating for the Biden administration to intervene directly in Cuba with the military?

    It’s hard to keep Republicans straight these days. They worshipped Trump because he promised no more foreign wars and wants Americans focused on America- except when a Democrat is president and they want foreign military intervention.

    The inconsistency is interesting.

    If we have a Republican President- end foreign intervention- no wars, bring the boys home. Mind our own business.

    When we have a Democratic President: Let’s strike Cuba with the military. Of course nothing bad could ever happen if we do that.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Are you in favor of ending the embargo? I don’t really see the point of it now. By any measure, it’s been a failed policy, right?

      We trade with China. Seems like the USA would be able to have an outsized influence on Cuba from an economic standpoint…for good.

      1. Barry

        One of the few things I supported Obama on was his outreach to Cuba and his easing of travel restrictions. Of course it angered most Republicans in Florida who wanted to keep the status quo policy in place since it had been so “successful” over the past 50+ years.

        Yes, I am in favor of ending the embargo.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          So, with Barry and Bryan in agreement, let’s go ahead and end the embargo. Congress is too dysfunctional to act. Perhaps we should be the deliberative body…

          1. Bryan Caskey

            Remind me, is that what Cubans in the streets are chanting about — the embargo? Or is it an end to the dictatorship?

            I get those two confused all the time.

            1. Barry

              I listened to the Michael Smerconish program this morning on Sirus radio’s POTUS channel.

              In the 11am hour of his show, Michael had on a Los Angeles based travel journalist who has acted as a travel tour guide in Cuba for 3+ decades. About 5 or so years ago, Michael was able to take his wife and 3 of his children to Cuba on a vacation/tour. He said the trip was outstanding.

              The tour guide he had on the radio served as his family tour guide when was visited Cuba.

              He said the country is deeply divided. He mentioned that “it would not surprise me if 50% of the population or even a slight majority want to see the dictatorship and communist government go away- but that there was a large population- especially in the rural areas of the country that want to see it maintained.

              During the Trump years, the amount of American tourists was drastically reduced. During the 2nd term of Obama, American tourists poured millions into the economy there that had a huge ripple effect throughout the country helping the Cuban people. But that was seriously cut back during the Trump years. The suffering was always there- but has increased in recent years.

              He said the protests were mainly about the lack of food and COVID vaccines available for the people.

              He also said Cuba’s medical technology sector was one of the few highlights of the country- that they were able to create 2 vaccines all by themselves. Still, only about 17% of the population has been fully vaccinated.

            2. Brad Warthen Post author

              Bryan, I’m not sure which it is.

              Tell you what. I should probably run down there and check it out. Walk around and listen a bit. Hang out at Finca Vigía. Drink some Cuba Libres. Blend in, you know, until everybody’s comfortable with me and will tell me what’s going on.

              Y’all pass the hat, and when y’all have raised enough money to pay for the trip, let me know.

              I always wanted to go through Checkpoint Charlie at least once. But then they tore down the wall, and spoiled my dream. This would be a nice consolation prize…

  3. Barry

    Also noticed Florida “Conservatives” arent enforcing the law they just passed about blocking highways and protests.
    Florida’s anti-protest politicians shift their tone for Cuba protesters
    DeSantis proudly signed a law punishing protesters who block highways, but obviously he meant only Black protesters. Not a peep from him about the free-Cuba march on I-95

    1. Bryan Caskey

      The Biden administration has declared that any refugees seeking to enter the United States without proper authorization will be turned away and sent to wait in another country. That policy sounds rather familiar, doesn’t it? In fact, it’s almost identical to the rules put in place by the last President against Mexico and Northern Triangle Countries which met with such outrage.

      So with the Biden in charge, it seems that the huddled masses yearning to breathe free and the wretched refuse of your teeming shore doesn’t include the Cubans.

      1. Barry

        interesting how you didn’t address the Ron DeSantis signed law that I referenced above and tried to change the subject.

        I guess there is no good answer at why Cubans were allowed to protest and block traffic which is against the law In Florida and other protesters aren’t allowed to do so. The old “what’s bad for one group is good for another. The old Conservative “equal under the law” belief isn’t really a firm belief is it?

        For decades, the U.S. government has been turning back the vast majority of migrants encountered at sea.

        The Dept. of Homeland Security has said those trying to reach the U.S. by sea – both Cubans, Haitians and anyone else will be intercepted by the Coast Guard and immediately returned to their home countries before they reach US soil.

        Domestic law allows migrants to request asylum once they reach U.S. soil. But during the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. government has been citing a public health law to expel most migrants without permitting them to seek refuge.

        “If individuals make, establish a well-founded fear of persecution or torture, they are referred to third countries for resettlement,” Secretary Mayorkas said. “They will not enter the United States.”

        The Conservative approach is that Cubans are the exception to the rule they want enforced on everyone else. Hmmm…..

        1. Bryan Caskey

          What was seen on the Palmetto Expressway in Florida was not peaceful protesting. They were adopting a tactic used during the BLM riots for the last year or more. And no matter what you think of either of their causes, we can’t honestly condemn one while condoning the other. Shutting down a highway without a permit is a dangerous endeavor and they should have known better.

          DeSantis should have called out those protesters and had them moved over to the park so the normal flow of traffic could be restored. He undermines his own credibility by failing to do so.

          1. Barry

            Well, I agree DeSantis should have

            But sadly this proves it was purely a political stunt.

            DeSantis is a hypocrite

            1. Bryan Caskey

              Eh, I think a law prohibiting people from blocking major roads is good. It just needs to be fairly and evenly enforced. Is it shocking that a politician is hesitant to call out members of his base? No. Is that hypocritical? Sure. Is it an anomaly? Hardly. Every politician everywhere, from the dog catcher to the President has some degree of bias and hypocrisy. That’s human nature. If you can find some angels to govern, let me know.

              Related, here’s my favorite movie line referencing hypocrisy;

            2. Bryan Caskey

              HYPOCRISY UPDATE:

              Apparently, Gov. DeSantis read this blog and saw your disappointment.

              On Thursday, the governor reversed course and said that authorities could not “tolerate” people blocking roads.

              “It’s dangerous for you to be shutting down a thoroughfare,” DeSantis said during a press conference with Florida GOP Reps. María Salazar and Carlos Giménez calling on the Biden administration to help restore Internet access to Cuba. “You’re also putting other people in jeopardy. You don’t know if an emergency vehicle needs to get somewhere and then obviously it’s just disrespectful to make people stand in traffic.”

              1. Barry

                Are politicians often hypocritical?

                Sure- of course.

                But DeSantis portrays himself as a super tough guy- not afraid to call it as he sees it and regularly calls out others for acting hypocritical. He has portrayed himself as “above it all” for years now.

                So sure- are they all hypocritical? Yes.

                But not all politicians pretend to be the toughest guy around acting as if they are above such petty actions as being hypocritical- all the while they are being 100% hypocritical.

                Not to mention- DeSantis’ effort to keep people from protesting on public roads was not exactly earth shattering news. Most people have no issue with keeping people off public roads during protests – for their safety- and the safety of police and EMS vehicles who have to use those roads.

                His “Brave and Bold” (as it was described in conservative media at the time) to absolve citizens who would run over protestors with vehicles was an essential part of his “tough guy” hypocrisy.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I’d like a Cuba Libre right now. Although I prefer my rum with ginger ale. Black rum, not the white stuff.

      When it comes to rum, paint it black. Tastes better…

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      That may be my favorite Stones tune.

      But watching that video, I much prefer the quick, dim shots of people in the crowd to seeing the crisp, bright images of those pathetically shriveled old men, even though Jagger moves like a much-younger one.

      See the smile on this girl in the crowd. That says Cuba to me…


      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Nothing against old men, mind you. How could I, who am one, be against old men?

        But the Stones were kind of shriveled old men by the time they were 35. And that sort of heroin chic look provides an unappealing contrast to the warmth and sun-drenched health that I associate with Cuba…

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