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Why are there protests in Cuba?

VIOLENCE has broken out in Cuba amid one of the biggest anti-government protests in decades.

Cops were pelted with stones as thousands took to the streets demanding “freedom”. Here’s all the key details.

Getty Images - Getty
Cubans have taken to the streets in protests against the regime[/caption]

Why are there protests in Cuba?

Cubans have taken to the streets in protest amid the country’s worsening economic crisis.   

Led by President Miguel Díaz-Canel, the island nation has seen the economy drop by 10.9 per cent in 2020, and two per cent through June of 2021.

The resulting cash crunch has spawned shortages that have forced Cubans to queue hours for basic goods throughout the pandemic.

The government has mainly blamed the seismic slump on U.S. sanctions and the pandemic, while its detractors point to incompetence and a Soviet-style one-party system.

Sactions imposed by the government to combat the pandemic – coupled with local inefficiencies – has shut down tourism and slowed other foreign revenue flows in a country dependent on them to import the bulk of its food and fuel.

Meanwhile, Cuba has begun a mass vaccination campaign, with 1.7m of its 11.2 m residents vaccinated to date and twice that many have received at least one shot in the three-shot process.

But, the arrival of the Delta variant has prompted cases to surge, with health authorities reporting a record 6,923 cases and 47 deaths on July 11- twice as many as the week before.

According to local reports, this grim milestone appeared to be the final straw as people shouted “down with the dictatorship” and violently attacked police officers.

When did Cuba become a Communist country?

Cuba has been a communist country since 1959 when guerilla fighters led Fidel Castro and Che Guevara overthrew Cuba’s dictator Fulgenico Batstista in what became known a the ‘Cuban Revolution’.

Castro swiftly began forming relations with the Soviet Union, closing a lot of mainstay American business in the process.

In 1961 Castro officially announced that his government was socialist.

At the height of the Cold War, the US attempted to invade Cuba regain control and overthrow it’s communist led government.

Their attempted coup failed as 100 people were killed in the infamous blood bath called the Bay of Pigs.

With Castro firmly at the helm, the Communist Party of Cuba was created in 1965 and has ruled the island ever since.

Today, Cuba is the only communist state outside of Asia, in the Caribbean and in the western hemisphere.

Getty Images - Getty
Cuba – which has been a Communist country since 1959 – is in the midst of an economic and social crisis[/caption]

Why are protestors singing Patria y Vida?

Patria y Vida is rap and reggaeton hit song by a group of well-known Cuban musicians which has deeply angered the communist-run government.

The song, which has been viewed more than five million times on YouTube, blasts the dire economic situation on the island and has become an anthem for protesters on the island.

The title ‘Patria y Vida’ or ‘Fatherland and Life’ also plays on one of Fidel Castro’s favourite revolutionary slogans “Fatherland or Death”.

According to the BBC, Havana had previously described the artists as mercenaries and released its own pro-revolutionary song in response, albeit with limited success.

What has President Miguel Díaz-Canel said about the protests?

President Miguel Díaz-Canel has spoken out suggesting the protests were a provocation by mercenaries hired by the US to destabilise the country, and has promised a “revolutionary response”.

We are prepared to do anything,” he reportedly said. “We will be battling in the streets.”

Thousands gathered in Havana to call for Diaz-Canel to step down while pro- government supporters brandished the Cuban flag and chanted “Fidel.”

Diaz-Canel said many of the protesters were sincere but claimed they had been manipulated by U.S.-orchestrated social media campaigns.

He warned that further provocations would not be tolerated, calling on his supporters to “confront such provocations.”

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