During the past few days, there were reports of widespread protests in Cuba. In some media, they were presented as uprisings against the government of Cuba and parallels were even drawn to the protests in Eswatini against elite corruption and royal dictatorship.
We wish to clarify the events in Cuba and place them into their political and socio-economic context. There is no doubt that after six decades of extremely harsh unilateral sanctions and blockades, there are many shortages in Cuba. This situation was deliberately created by the USA and its allies which employed the harsh measures as part of their regime-change agenda. They had hoped that by creating shortages and hardships, the people of Cuba would turn against their government but this did not happen since the Cuban revolution in 1959. The crime of Cuba was simply to chart their own way and to attempt to build a socialist country in contrast to the ideology and business interests of the US. Thus consecutive US administrations tried all they could to destablise Cuba and to install an administration there which would accommodate Western interests.
The ongoing shortages and hardships created by the US blockade were further heightened by the Covid-19 wave which hit Cuba as badly as many other countries around the world. Cuba’s president Miguel Diaz-Canel has acknowledged that most of the people who took to the streets in recent days have legitimate concerns, for example about the availability of power and needed medicines. This is directly linked to the arbitrary actions of the United States which prevented Cuba from accessing almost US$2 billion that could have been used to acquire medical supplies. Likewise, the interruptions of power supply in Cuba are largely caused by the blockade which limited Cuba’s ability to acquire spare parts, technology and fuel. As a result, the continuous supply of electricity has been affected since 21 June 2021, especially due to the increase in demand during peak hours at night. In 2019, when the Helms-Burton Act began to be applied, the focus was on preventing the entry of fuel to Cuba. However, Cuba still managed to prevent blackouts and resorted to thermal electricity generation. The recent blackouts in Cuba were caused because the country had to convert hotels in hospitals to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic and these hospitals required additional power.
Defending Venezuela’s right to self-determination
These hardships place Cuba in a very difficult situation which those opposed to Cuba’s chosen path want to exploit to effect regime change. Using social media platforms and networks of those opposed to the Cuban revolution, including the US administration. Their concerns are not about finding solutions to the hardships faced by the Cuban people, but rather to exploit these hardships towards their own political ends.
An attack on the right to self-determination
The current crisis is yet another attack on Cuba’s right to self-determination. We agree with Bolivia’s president Luis Arce who pointed out that “the problems in Cuba must be solved by the Cubans, without any interference, much less from those who have maintained a criminal blockade for 60 years.” The blockade has damaged Cuba’s economic and social development and undermined its commercial and diplomatic relations with the rest of the world. It is a highly coercive measure that undermines the Cuban people’s right to lead a dignified life. The blockade is, therefore, a direct attack on democracy, socio-economic progress and self-determination in Cuba.
We are aware that we ourselves find ourselves in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and a massive social and economic crisis. This requires much of our attention and efforts but we must not forget when people suffer elsewhere. We call on our peace-loving compatriots in Namibia to support the lifting of the blockade against Cuba and to let the people and government of Cuba find solutions to their own problems without being coerced by external interventions. - Namibia-Venezuela Association