Cuban Protests


    In News

    Recently, thousands of Cubans have joined street protests from Havana to Santiago in the biggest anti-government demonstrations in decades.

    Major Highlights

    • Background
      • The protests erupted amid Cuba’s worst economic crisis since the fall of the Soviet Union, its former ally, and a record surge in Covid-19 infections, with people voicing anger over shortages of basic goods, curbs on civil liberties and the authorities’ handling of the pandemic.
    • Reasons Behind Falling Economy
      • Cuba’s economy is struggling as Tourism, one of the most important sectors, has been devastated by the restrictions on travel during the Covid-19 pandemic.
      • Sugar, which is mostly exported, is another key earner for Cuba. However, 2021’s harvest has been much worse than expected.
        • The shortfall was to blame on a number of factors, including a lack of fuel and the breakdown of machinery which made bringing in the harvest difficult, as well as natural factors such as humidity in the fields.
      • Consequently, the government’s reserves of foreign currency are depleted, meaning it cannot buy imported goods to supplement shortages.
    • President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who also heads the Communist Party as well, blamed the unrest on the USA, an old Cold War foe.
      • In recent years, the US has tightened its trade embargo on Cuba.
        • He called its tight sanctions on Cuba – which have been in place in various forms since 1962 – a “policy of economic suffocation”.
      • Allegedly, it is also manipulating social media campaigns and is sending “mercenaries” on the ground to provoke protests.
    • Thousands of protestors have gathered in downtown Havana and along parts of the seaside drive, chanting “Fidel” and are demanding the stepping down of Diaz-Canel.
      • Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was a Cuban revolutionary and politician who was the leader of Cuba from 1959 to 2008.
    • USA’s Stand
      • The USA stands with the people of Cuba in their call for freedom, relief from the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering by the authoritarian Cuban regime.

    Cuban Missile Crisis

    • In April 1961, the leaders of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) were worried that the US would invade communist-ruled Cuba and overthrow Fidel Castro, the President of the small island nation off the coast of the US.
    • Cuba was an ally of the Soviet Union and received both diplomatic and financial aid from it.
    • Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union, decided to convert Cuba into a Russian base, so he placed nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962.
    • The installation of these weapons put the US, for the first time, under fire from close range and nearly doubled the number of bases or cities in the American mainland which could be threatened by the USSR.
    • When the US became aware of the nuclear weapons in Cuba, the then US President, John F. Kennedy and his advisers were determined to get the missiles and nuclear weapons removed from Cuba.
      • However, they were reluctant to do anything that might lead to full-scale nuclear war between the two nations.
    • Hence, Kennedy ordered American warships to intercept any Soviet ships heading to Cuba as a way of warning the USSR of his seriousness and this seemingly evident clash came to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
    • The whole world got nervous keeping in mind the intensity of the war however, both sides decided to avoid war and the Soviet ships slowed down and turned back.
    • The Crisis was a high point of the Cold War (1945-1991).
      • Post World War II (1945), the world got divided into two power blocs dominated by two superpowers, the US and Soviet Union.
      • The Cold War referred to the competition, the tensions and a series of confrontations between the US and Soviet Union.
      • It was not simply a matter of power rivalries, of military alliances and of the balance of power. These were accompanied by a real ideological conflict as well, a difference over the best and the most appropriate way of organising political, economic, and social life all over the world.
      • The western alliance, headed by the US, represented the ideology of liberal democracy and capitalism while the eastern alliance, headed by the Soviet Union, was committed to the ideology of socialism and communism.

    (Image Courtesy: History)

    Source: TH