Thousands of Cubans took to the streets on Sunday to protest a lack of food and medicine as the country undergoes a grave economic crisis aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic and US sanctions.
According to one Cuban, who spoke to the BBC on the condition of anonymity, “there is no food, no medicine, there is no freedom. They do not let us live.”
The outlet further reports that at the crux of the Cuba protests lies the issues that have arisen from American economic sanctions, the Cuban government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and food and medicine shortages. The perfect storm of these three issues has collapsed the country’s economy.
The issues were exacerbated by the Trump administration, according to CNN. During the Trump era, tourists — which power the economy — were limited from visiting, and some even canceled their travel altogether. This further contributed to the failing economy — and it was all but toppled when the pandemic hit.
That’s why Bernie Sanders blamed the American sanctions on the island for the current Cuba protests.
“It’s also long pastime to end the unilateral U.S. embargo on Cuba, which has only hurt, not helped, the Cuban people,” he said.
But the real answer isn’t that simple. While protests are common in the United States and enshrined in the Constitution. They’re forbidden in places like Cuba, where protesting against the government will result in arrest and incarceration. That’s what’s happening to these protestors — and according to the BBC, the only reason we know about it is that the Internet is shining a light on all of it.
For Sanders, though, the Cuba protests speak to a larger need of the people that’s no longer being met by their government.
While this is not to say that American-style democracy is the correct choice for Cuba — the Batista administration was just as corrupt and murderous as the Castro regime — it is to say that anything’s better than what they have now.
For his part, President Biden is supportive of the Cuba protests.
“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,” Biden said in a statement.