Cubans' unprecedented cry for change
Recent protests mark a new era of defiance
Sunday’s protests in cities across Cuba were unprecedented in their scale and in the boldness of Cuban citizens to confront authorities and the repression that has plagued them for six decades. While reminiscent in some ways of the Aug. 5, 1994 “maleconazo” that brought a few thousand Cubans to Havana’s waterfront, and to the 1980 storming of the Peruvian embassy, the sweep and scope of this weekend’s protests appear to mark a new and distinct era of broad citizen defiance and disaffection with the island’s 62-year old communist regime.
[T]hese protests were not a random occurrence.
To be sure, these protests were not a random occurrence, but rather the culmination of both longstanding and historic economic and social failures on the part of the Cuban government. They were also due to a more recent and desperate economic and health crisis that has resulted from a trifecta made up of the COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting contraction of Cuba’s tourist sector, as well the general loss of Venezuelan economic support, that is now several years in the making. The protests can also be tied to Cuba’s limited, but historically grounded and an increasingly vocal social opposition movement led by artists and activists, and now symbolized by the song, “Patria y Vida,” that has gained both national and international attention in recent months.