14 July 2021

Cubans are crying out for freedom from their Marxist dictatorship – Britain must listen

By Peter Young

With chants of ‘freedom’ thousands of Cubans have, for the first time in decades, taken to the streets to denounce the Communist dictatorship’s repression and failure to provide the necessities of life, such as food and basic medicines. The protests are spreading, despite a violent response from the regime, in an uprising that may herald the final collapse of that Marxist dictatorship.

“It’s 9:30 to 11:30 and protests in Cuba are continuing,” stated Erika Guevara Rosas, Amnesty’s Mexico-based director for the Americas on Twitter yesterday. “There have been reports of several people being injured by police gunfire, arbitrary arrests, threats, attacks on journalists, including an AP photographer, a strong military presence on the streets and an intolerant government.”

Needless to say, the regime, backed up by western leftists, have blamed the USA for instigating the protests. This is obvious rubbish.

Distinguished Cuban writer Wendy Guerra, recipient of France’s Order of Arts and Letters, explains it accurately: “What is happening is that we have reached a limit of resistance, of tolerance. Cubans now realise, from the information they have through social networks, that the entire supposed revolutionary ideal is amorphous and that they have been manipulating us for many decades.

“There is no design, there is no economy, neither good nor bad, there is no economic plan, and people are literally starving… To buy an aspirin on the black market, which is where it appears, you have to pay 1,000 pesos ($40 US).”

“Get the Americans out of the conversation because they have not made this internal crisis…”, she said. “This is a problem that has been generated by the repression of a government that does not let the people move, that has been with a single party and a single voice for 62 years, despite the ideological and mental impoverishment of its policy.”

Despite the efforts of leftists to pretend that the US is somehow involved or to blame US sanctions, protesters themselves have made their views clear. For example, in this video, a young Cuban protester shouts “we’re here because of the repression against the people. They’re starving us to death, all Havana is crumbling and we have no homes.”

Cuban economic collapse is due to the broken communist economic system which has failed in Cuba just as it has everywhere-else. Cubans don’t have enough food to eat and while the government blames the shortage of food on US sanctions the truth is that since 2001 the sanctions have exempted food. In fact the United States is the largest exporter of food to Cuba.

In reality the shortage of food is caused by Cuba’s systemic economic failure, a combination of the economy’s inability to generate enough hard currency to import food and the continued collapse of domestic food production. State-owned food-processing factories are degenerating due to lack of investment, there is no fuel for agricultural vehicles and the harvest is left rotting in the fields as a consequence. The Cuban state needs to import products like wheat, which are not grown domestically, but can no longer afford to do so in sufficient quantities. In May Diorgys Hernandez, general director of the food processing ministry, said when he announced a wheat shortage that “the financial costs involved in wheat shipments to the country” were partly to blame. Bread, Cubans’ staple food, is now largely unavailable, or restricted in some cities to only children and the elderly.

But what are we in Britain doing to help the Cuban people? The answer, sadly, is not much. We have done next to nothing to support human rights and freedom of expression in Cuba, contrary to lofty policy commitments such as the global pledge on media freedom. In response to the current protests a Foreign Office minister issued a statement on Twitter calling for ‘calm and restraint.’

Parliament is not much better. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Cuba is controlled by unrepentant propagandists for the Cuban Marxist dictatorship in the form of Corbynites such as Grahame Morris and Dan Carden. Few other MPs show an interest in the plight of the Cuban people. By contrast the European Parliament has just passed a strong resolution denouncing the regime’s brutal violations of basic rights.

We need in Britain much more vigorous support for the Cuban people and the brave independent journalists and human rights activists who are fighting state oppression. Our government should take every opportunity to denounce the regime’s brutality and trampling over human rights. Continuing to look the other way makes no moral nor political sense.

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Peter Young is former Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute.

Columns are the author's own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of CapX.