Cuba: Cubans in Catastrophic Situation

For years, the bureaucracy-ridden Castro regime has amply demonstrated its absolute inefficiency: Suffice it to say that Cuba, once the largest producer and exporter of sugar, can barely meet its domestic needs. But the scale of misery achieved in recent months under President Miguel Díaz-Canel is frankly catastrophic.

The catastrophe is specifically evident in the areas of public health, electricity generation and the recurrence of huge disasters. And all this happens against a background of human rights violations that have increased following the massive protests against the communist regime that took place across Cuba on 11 July 2021.

In the field of public health, it can be said that, according to The Economist, the number of deaths in Cuba caused by COVID-19 could be 7.3 times greater than the amount officially reported by the Cuban authorities. The communist propagandists tried to hide the pandemic-related deaths, but the extraordinary increase in the total number of people who died from one year to the next (and whose only possible explanation is COVID) quickly discovered the lie. There is also a new wave of dengue fever cases. The situation in the country is so frightening that the authorities cannot even ensure the most basic measure to prevent the spread of the disease: fumigation in houses to ensure the destruction of the mosquito that transmits dengue fever from a sick person to a healthy one.

In the field of electricity generation, a comment is necessary on the $1.2 billion loan that Putin’s Russia made to Cuba in 2015. At the time, it was made public that the money was intended for the construction of four new generation power plants. However, nothing has been done and the regime has not communicated what the benefits of this important loan were. As a result, power cuts have become a permanent feature in Cuba, especially outside Havana. The constant power cuts have become the main cause of protests by angry Cubans who are fed up with communism and Marxism-Leninism. There is no solution in sight to the problem of electricity supply. If change can be foreseen, it will only be for the worse.

In recent days, public attention has been focused on the huge fire in the largest fuel storage facility in the city of Matanzas. For the second time in three months, it was not possible to prevent flying sparks from some of the lighting poles installed at the site that ultimately caused the disaster. So far, however, the authorities have not bothered to explain the causes to the population. The only possible guess is the lack of maintenance and the use of faulty, damaged technology. This disaster came just three months after another: the explosion of the “Saratoga” hotel in the heart of Havana, which killed 47 people. Despite the time that has passed, no official information has been released about the causes of the disaster.

This accumulation of bad news is further demoralizing people in the wake of the brutal repression unleashed by the Castro regime against the thousands of Cubans who took to the streets on 11 July 2021. On this historic day, angry citizens protested in more than fifty different places in Cuba while chanting “Freedom!” and “Down with communism!”. Although they were only exercising their right to peaceful protest, those of them who stood trial were convicted of all kinds of alleged crimes. In several cases, the prison sentences they received exceed twenty years! At the same time, the repressive wave was used to commit all kinds of other arbitrary acts.

The opposition leader and founder of the civil rights movement Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU), José Daniel Ferrer-García, was arrested on 11 July 2021 with his son when they joined the massive protests on the streets of Cuba. The two and another dissident leader, Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, are in prison since then, even though they did not participate in the protests; they only went to the places where hundreds of other Cubans had spontaneously gathered to protest, with the aim of joining them. Furthermore, Félix Navarro and his daughter Saily were arrested on 12 July in the small town of Perico in Matanzas province when they presented themselves at the police station to find out the fate of the demonstrators who had been arrested the day before.

Meanwhile, the Cuban Minister of Economy, Alejandro Gil, has turned the monetary policy he himself had announced months earlier on its head. He announced that Cuba will now buy US dollars at the official rate of 120 pesos to 1 dollar. In doing so, he is involuntarily making clear what ridiculous wages the communist economists are paying the working Cubans. Moreover, by doing so, the Cuban government has itself fueled a further increase in inflation.

This, in short, is the catastrophic situation in which Cubans currently find themselves under the communist regime.

(This article was published on on 11 August 2022. The author is the lawyer Rene Gómez Manzano, a former political prisoner and chair of the IGFM Cuba section.)