Many people say Cuba is a socialist or even communist country. It is not. It was never the intent of the Castro brothers and it is not what it became.
On the right side of history you have those who would say that Fidel Castro lied many times before becoming the President, selling himself as a democrat and as a leader that would reinstate the most advanced and democratic Constitution in Cuban history. He didn’t. On the wrong side of history you have those who say that Fidel was an icon of freedom and a true believer of Socialism and Communist ideologies. He wasn’t.
As soon as Fidel incarcerated commanders of the revolutionary movement and gave the order to Ernesto Che Guevara to shoot others, simply because they believed in democracy and free elections or because they had weapons and didn’t want to turn them over, he became the sole option for the presidency and disregarded everything the Revolution was fought for. He removed everybody that could be a contender, including the famous hero of Yaguajay, Camilo Cienfuegos.
Then he switched his speech of democracy to the “socialist” and declared himself a Marxist-Leninist. He started a feud with the United States of America and embraced the Soviet Union. All of this to establish his control on the people. The Castro’s created the Communist Party with some intellectuals and a lot of military men. They started selling the idea of a “Fatherland for all”, where, everybody would have the same and live by the same standards.
Of course this happened, but not in the way everybody expected. The Castro’s eliminated all private property and seized every Cuban and foreign company. Those in the Communist Party acquired control of everything and became very wealthy. They lived better than the majority of the people and accumulated for decades all the money that came from the USSRR. Fidel did tell the truth, he leveled the lives of the Cuban people, but into misery and hardship. To accomplish this, he destroyed the economy while blaming the US Embargo. Yet every time he acquired a loan from Russia, China, Mexico or Brasil, he split it with his acolytes and left the people with the crumbs or scraps.
So all these socialist-communists policies everybody talks about were just a mean to establish his control, to eliminate economic freedom and destroy any economic power of the people. The same thing he taught to Hugo Chávez, Daniel Ortega and others. Because you see, Socialism and Communism are just tools for control, they don’t solve any economic problems, they don’t help the majority of the people, they just help those in power gain more wealth and encyst themselves for decades. Look at all the examples: China, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, etc.
What the Castro’s did was to create the most efficient dictatorship in the history of the world. Because you cant talk about China or North Korea, but there are some cultural elements there that do not exist in Latin American countries. Cuba has a history of fight and struggle against colonialism and other dictatorships. The Chinese and Korean are used to monarchic powers, it is part of their history.
What is happening in Cuba now
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the dictatorship lied and manipulated numbers. Just like they have done for decades, telling international agencies and institutions whatever they want. So when it became obvious that the population was dying of the virus and hospitals started to get crowded, with no medicine or beds, or even aspirin to give; doctors had to turn back a lot of sick people that eventually died in their homes.
Yet this was not the catalyst of the protests and discontent. A lot of Cubans have depended for years of what their families in the United States or other countries send to them. When the regime changed its policy and prohibited the use of the dollar in the country, only allowing Euros, this created a major problem for those who send money. People who send dollars to Cuba now have to buy euros to then send the money to their families.
So, on top of all the shortages of food, medicines, the pandemic and electricity blackouts, the regime eliminated the only source of income of a lot of people. There is also the lack of tourism, the constant collapse of buildings, the oppression of the police and the lack of connectivity to the Internet.
You see, the Cuban people have so many problems, so many issues that, you can’t just pick one reason for their discontent. That is why these protests seem to be more violent than that of 1994 called “Maleconazo”. That is why the sing “we have no fear”, “Díaz-Canel fuck face”, “Freedom” and “down with the dictatorship”. They have nothing left to lose.
The response of the Regime
When protests erupted on Sunday, the appointed dictator Díaz-Canel called for the “revolutionary people” to crowd the streets. He said “you will have to walk over our dead bodies” and again, blamed the US Embargo. But nobody in Cuba believes any of that anymore. It worked for Fidel during the Soviet Union era, but after the fall of the Berlin wall, everybody realized that it was a scam. (The US Embargo only denies the Cuban dictatorship access to the US bank system, and rightly so. Because the regime would ask and beg for money just to favor the people of the Communist Party, not the people of Cuba).
But anyway, now in Cuba the “Operación Cacique” is in effect. This means that the military and the Ministry of Defense has control of the country and situation. On a side note, they have always been the ones in control, but this means that they have the “legality” to exhort violence and detain anybody they might think its “dangerous to the government”.
They are arming those who are loyal to the regime with sticks and batons. They are disguising military and police as civilians, to infiltrate the protests and identify those who might be starting to pose as leaders. They are importing Venezuelans just like they exported Cubans to help the Maduro regime. And of course they are limiting the Internet and the International Media.
As my friends tell me from Cuba, the regime is trying to avoid at all costs that these manifestations grow and extent for more than one week. They are doing everything in their power to extinguish the rage of the Cuban people. “The oppression is brutal”, tells me one of them. “The violence is escalating”, tells me another. “This is getting ugly”, tells me another. They need help, this is not a fight against racism, this is a fight for freedom and basic needs. This is a fight for democracy.
I can only pray for my family and friends and hope that this ends with the least amount of dead, and the liberation of a country that for 62 years has suffered the lies and deceit, the physical and psychological violence, and the oppression of a very evil group of people.