Thousands of people staged the largest anti-government protests in 27 years in Cuba on Sunday, which resulted in dozens of arrests and clashes after the country’s president Miguel Díaz-Canel called on his supporters to confront the protesters. It was not seen since the one known as the ‘maleconazo’, in 1994. These are the keys to the unprecedented day:
Because right now?
The shortage of basic products, food and medicine, the routine electricity cuts in some regions and the generalization of shops with exclusive payment in foreign currency led to the demonstrations that first broke out in San Antonio de Los Baños (30 kilometers east of Havana) and They later spread to other locations, including the Cuban capital.
The riots occur with the country mired in an economic crisis now exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and increased US sanctions.
Who is leading the protests?
There is no defined leadership. Cuban citizens of all social sectors They have spontaneously and peacefully joined the protests organized and documented on social networks, and whose organization the government blames the United States.
The mobile internet, a great ally
Three years ago, those scenes would have been unimaginable. During decades Cuba was one of the least connected countries in the world, did not allow mobile internet to enter until December 2018. By then, a minority of the island’s inhabitants had internet in their homes. The rest could only connect in internet cafes or Wi-Fi parks, with an hourly rate.
The success was amazing. Of the island’s 11.2 million inhabitants, 4.4 million were browsing from their phones at the end of 2020. For the communist government, improving connectivity was a priority to modernize the country. Now any Cuban can transfer money from his cell phone, pay his bills or make purchases online. And even transmit what happens inside the Island.
What does the government say?
The government labels the participants in the “discrediting actions” as “mercenaries” and “lackeys” as it has described the massive protests. President Díaz-Canel responded by calling his supporters to take to the streets to combat protests. In a televised intervention, he denied the crackdown on protesters, despite videos showing strong police action and multiple reports of arrests of protesters.
What has the exile said?
The Cuban political exile asked US President Joe Biden to act “decisively” to protect the Cuban people from repression, support their desire for change and urged him not to repeat the “mistake of President John Kennedy” of leaving them helpless.