Protests against Cuba's regime gripped the country amid rising unemployment, food shortages, a struggling healthcare system and limited freedoms spawned by severe economic decline.
freedom and quality of life
Protests in Cuba began in the early hours of July 11th, 2021. Protesters took to the streets with signs and slogans aimed at the country's communist government, which many media outlets and Twitter users initially attributed to the country's lack of access to vaccines and soaring Coronavirus cases.
Some protesters interviewed by Reuters and The Associated Press did, in fact, make demands for vaccine access. As reported by USA Today, one protester who refused to identify himself shouted, "We are fed up with the queues and shortages. We want vaccines." However, a large majority of those protesting made demands for the current regime to step down and shouted slogans against communism, while brandishing American flags and signs that made references to freedom and the ongoing food shortages.
Much of the protests and dissent have been attributed to the Cuban regime's handling of the Coronavirus pandemic by several media sources, however, the current shortages of food and medicine began in 2019.
economic Dependency, inefficiencies
In late 2019 and early 2020, much of Cuba's financial aid from Venezuela had collapsed following the country's descent into economic collapse. With a severe decline in global oil prices, Venezuela's economy fell into ruin, putting an end to a long standing stream of financial support to Cuba.
In 2020, Cuba's GDP shrunk by 11%.
With Cuba importing more than 70% of its food supply and facing a severe decline in income from tourism, embargos and Venezuela's economic collapse, Cuba has seen a dramatic rise in food prices caused by extreme shortages. The Coronavirus pandemic has exasperated the shortages and exposed significant inefficiencies in Cuba's supply chain, but it is not the direct cause.
In 2019, before the pandemic, Cuba began rationing eggs, poultry and various household goods.
As a direct cause of Cuba's diminished revenue from losing Venezuelan aid, the country has experienced perpetual blackouts and power outages since late 2019.
A failure of communism
Although the situation is exasperated by the pandemic, Cubans have expressed frustrations with communism and their country's regime. Food shortages are not new to Cuba and have happened periodically throughout the 1970s and 1990s. It has become increasingly evident that freedom and regime change are a top priority among a majority of the demonstrators in Havana and across Cuba. Many protesters have chanted pro-American slogans, brandished American flags and called for an end to communism.
Photo and video evidence have made the ambitions of Cuba's protesters very clear.
1959 - Fidel Castro and his revolutionaries storm the Cuban capital
1961 - The United States' Bay Of Pigs Invasion fails
1991 - Soviet troops begin withdrawing from Cuba
1991 - Soviet Union begins to collapse
1992 - Fuel and food shortages grip Cuba
2003 - Venezuela, under Hugo Chavez, begins an alliance with Cuba
2008 - Fidel Castro resigns
2014 - Global oil prices begin to collapse
2015 - Many U.S. embargos against Cuba are relaxed or lifted
2017 - U.S. reinstates some travel restrictions and embargos
2019 - Cuba begins rationing rice, eggs, soap and some household products
2019 - Protests and economic collapse grip Venezuela
2020 - Global Coronavirus pandemic emerges
2020 - Food shortages and blackouts grip Cuba
2021 - Protesters take to the streets, demanding an end to Cuba's communist regime