Skip to content

Cubans Are Fighting for Freedom, Not Because of ‘Medicine Shortages’

Los cubanos no están en las calles por "la escasez de medicinas", están en la calle por su libertad

Leer en Español

[Leer en español]

Cuba has been under a tyrannical communist regime for more than sixty years. The Castro brothers, Fidel and Raul, were for many years the de facto dictators on the island. Today that position belongs to Miguel Díaz-Canel, who is nothing more than a mere continuation of the Castro regime.

During the last six decades, the island became so impoverished that thousands of Cubans decided to leave the country by raft, venturing into the unknown waters of the sea in search of a future in free lands. The United States, par excellence, is the country of origin of the brave Cuban dissidents.

With this complicated context, Cubans, for years submerged in extreme poverty and starvation, with a constant shortage of food and medicine, fleeing their homeland to try to live a full and happy life, decided to take to the streets and rise up against the Castro regime asking in unison for one thing: “Freedom!

“Down with the dictatorship”, “we are not afraid”, “Homeland and Life”, were some of the chants heard in the Cuban streets on the historic day of last Sunday, July 11, the day in which thousands of Cubans, after more than three decades in silence, decided to rise up against Castroism.

This civil movement fighting for the freedom of the Cuban people, partly driven by the many years of communist nightmare, partly by the current economic and health crisis, is not being covered accordingly by the media in the United States and around the planet.

For many respected, long-established news agencies and newspapers, the Cubans’ protests are due only to a mere outbreak of COVID-19 cases, a health crisis, economic problems and medical shortages. For them, socialism and Castroism have nothing to do with the protest. On top of that, they blame U.S. sanctions for the recent deterioration of the Cuban economy. All this is a big lie.

Los cubanos no están en las calles por "la escasez de medicinas", están en la calle por su libertad
At the Versailles restaurant in the city of Miami, hundreds of Cuban exiles came out in support of their compatriots who are marching today against Castro’s tyranny. (EFE)

In Cuba, protests are not only about medicine shortages

The international agency The Associated Press covered the July 11 protests in Cuba with the following headline: “Demonstrators in Havana protest shortages, rising prices.”

AP is correct in mentioning shortages and price increases as one of the reasons, but this is neither the only nor the main argument why Cubans took to the streets.

AP, without mentioning at any time the crisis generated by Castroism for decades, blamed the sanctions of Donald Trump’s administration for the current economic crisis.

“Cuba is going through its worst economic crisis in decades, along with a resurgence of coronavirus cases, as it suffers the consequences of U.S. sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.”

Sanctions on Cuba by the United States do not prevent the island from trading with the world, but only with some American companies. The island does not suffer a blockade, but an embargo, and the current crisis falls on the back of the communist regime that did not know how to manage the income obtained by Cuba and the royalties coming for years from Venezuela and other countries.

In fact, the story of the blockade fell apart on July 14, because the Cuban regime itself accepted the import of food, medicines and personal hygiene products with no import value limit for travelers visiting the island.

AP’s report is serious because, as a news agency, it is contracted by other media outlets that replicate the news wires that they themselves broadcast. This is the case of, for example, NBC 6 South Florida:

France 24 was another news media that focused the reports on the demonstrations in the wrong way. “Cubans take to the streets against shortages and health crisis,” read one of the headlines.

“Thousands of Cubans took to the streets in some cities this Sunday to protest against the government for its response to the Covid-19 pandemic and what they consider negligence by the authorities. The demonstrators denounced acts of repression by the police and cuts to internet service. The country’s president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, called on his supporters to demonstrate in a counter-response”, explained on its web page the TV channel financed mainly by the French state.

Like the AP agency, France 24 also blamed Trump’s sanctions for worsening the economic crisis, but nowhere in the article does it point to the Castro dictatorship: “Cuba is going through its worst economic crisis in decades, hard hit by a resurgence of contagions of the new coronavirus and the financial consequences of the sanctions imposed by the former US administration under Donald Trump, which have also not been lifted by the new administration of Joe Biden.”

In an article dated July 12 titled “What is happening in Cuba for a historic protest against the government?”, in Euronews, several of the reasons behind the demonstrations are explained. None of the items mentions the pressing need of Cubans to overthrow a regime that has kept them in misery and oppressed them for decades. In fact, in the beginning, they even go so far as to minimize this issue.

“The spontaneity of this Sunday’s protest in Cuba has an explanation that goes beyond the classic justifications of Castroism. It is true, according to experts, that the blockade imposed by Trump on remittances is among one of the reasons that explain this manifestation of unrest, but there are many more factors that explain why Cubans have now staged one of the largest protests that the country has experienced since 1994 with the Maleconazo.” begins the article and then goes on to explain that the shortage of medicines, the economic crisis, Internet access and the fact that Cuba no longer has a big brother to support it — like the Soviet Union last century or Venezuela during the last few years — are the reasons for the protests.

The famous TIME magazine also published a report on the Cuban protests titled “Food shortages, COVID-19 and Instagram: the driving forces behind Cuba’s protests,”.

In the fourth paragraph of the piece they write the following, “The pandemic’s blunt impact on Cuba’s economy, already struggling under the Trump-era tightening of sanctions, has brought the island to the brink of its worst food shortages in 25 years. Empty supermarket shelves, the crippling pandemic and recent access to social media allowing Cubans to openly share their outrage all helped lead to Sunday’s rare protests against the communist regime.”

In TIME‘s report, at least mention is made of Cubans’ outrage and the call for freedom that runs through the streets of Havana and throughout the island. However, in the international media there is a peculiar way of looking at these demonstrations: very few mention the problem of restrictions to freedoms in Cuba, they all talk about the economic crisis blaming the American sanctions without mentioning the failure of Castro’s socialist model. In addition, almost all the media highlight the health crisis and the shortage of medicine as the main reason behind the protests. This is false. Certainly, there are many reasons, but the main reason is one: freedom.

Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón is a journalist at El American specializing in the areas of American politics and media analysis // Emmanuel Alejandro Rondón es periodista de El American especializado en las áreas de política americana y análisis de medios de comunicación.

Contacto: emmanuel.rondon@elamerican.com

1 thought on “Cubans Are Fighting for Freedom, Not Because of ‘Medicine Shortages’”

Leave a Reply