Tensions High as Protests Erupt Across Cuba

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This past week, the Cuban government made the decision to temporarily lift all regulations placed upon food and medicine after multiple protests erupted across the country.

According to Authentic Cuba Travel, such restrictions include (but are not limited to) “all kinds of seeds, fresh animal or vegetable products unless prior approval has been obtained from the Ministry of Agriculture; narcotics, drugs and psychotropic substances except those for personal use and provided holding medical prescription.” 

As in many places, the global pandemic has placed somewhat of a strain on Cuba. With many out of work, the government’s handling of the coronavirus, and a growing economic crisis (reminiscent of the country’s 1991-2000 Special Period), tensions are high.

Additionally, Black Lives Matter is currently receiving backlash for a statement they released in relation to the protests, which mainly focuses on the impact of the United States Embargo that has been in place in Cuba since 1962.

“Black Lives Matter condemns the U.S. federal government’s inhumane treatment of Cubans, and urges it to immediately lift the economic embargo. This cruel and inhumane policy, instituted with the explicit intention of destabilizing the country and undermining Cubans’ right to choose their own government, is at the heart of Cuba’s current crisis,” said the organization.

The statement goes on to mention the need for medical supplies as a result of the coronavirus. It also addresses the solidarity Cuba has had in the past with those who experience oppression, like Assata Shakur (godmother of the late rapper Tupac Shakur), who was granted asylum in the country after killing a New Jersey state trooper during a 1973 shoot out.

Black Lives Matter is calling President Biden to end the embargo, citing it as a “human rights violation.”

Last Monday, President Biden released a statement in support of the Cuban protests (which are also taking place within The United States).

“We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime,” said Biden. “The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights. Those rights, including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected.”

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