In Cuba, the government is trying to quell the popular protest with police reinforcements and arrests. However, over the weekend, many people took to the streets against the economic malaise and more freedom.
The United States has now rallied behind the demonstrators; US President Joe Biden calls the protest a call for freedom. Some Latin American countries are calling on the US to relax its economic sanctions against Cuba. “It can now go in all directions,” says correspondent Edwin Koopman in “The morning” on Radio 1.
The streets of the Cuban capital Havana are quiet again. The government buildings are sealed off. The government has sent police reinforcements and has arrested several people since last weekend’s protest, including door-to-door actions. According to the exiled Cuban civil rights group Cubalex, at least 100 protesters, activists and independent journalists are involved.
“The demonstrators have no real leaders and are not CIA bosses, as President Díaz-Canel makes clear,” said correspondent Edwin Koopman. “They took to the streets not against US sanctions, but for more democracy and a free Cuba.”
The question is how it will evolve in the coming days. According to Koopman, it can go both ways. “Either the people say: now the moment has come, we will continue. Or it will slowly die out, and the government, through all those arrests, manages to get the genie back in the bottle so that the dissatisfaction has, of course, not gone away. “
In a televised speech, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel has labelled the United States as instigators and lashed out at economic sanctions. Those sanctions were tightened under former US President Donald Trump. Venezuela and Argentina want them to be abolished immediately.
But according to Koopman, the embargo is not the whole story. “I suspect that President Biden will ease that and seek rapprochement in economic terms. The US is the main importer of food and medicines. But the embargo is only a small factor of what is going wrong. The Cubans suffer from the economic lack of freedom of a strict planning system and especially under political freedom.”