“Everyone has a tipping point”: Hunger fuels Cuba’s protests


But some Cuban activists in the United States, including those who oppose the embargo, were quick to dispute this narrative.

“There is no food, there is no medicine, there is nothing, and it is not a product of the American embargo, which I do not support,” Ramón said. Saúl Sánchez, president of the Movimiento Democracia advocacy group in Miami. He noted that the embargo allows Cuba to buy food from the United States, although funding restrictions present significant barriers to the amount.

Cuba’s fragile economy has been battered by US sanctions, but also by financial mismanagement and a sharp drop in tourism due to the pandemic, depriving it of a vital source of foreign currency on which it relies for a wide range. needs of the island. The government has also had to contend with the economic collapse of its closest regional ally, Venezuela.

“Do you know what it is like not being able to buy food for my child at the store?” Said Odais, a 43-year-old housewife in Havana, who asked that her last name not be disclosed for fear of reprisals from the government. “People are fed up with the abuse of power. We are desperate.

In the first five months of this year, the number of international travelers to Cuba has fallen by almost 90% compared to the same period in 2020, according to the Cuban national statistics agency. According to Pavel Vidal Alejandro, a former Cuban central bank economist, now professor of economics at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia, the price of goods has also skyrocketed, with inflation skyrocketing by around 500% and continues to increase.

“The situation is very, very serious,” Vidal said, noting that official inflation figures are not available. “High inflation is something that always causes a lot of social unrest. “

Cuba suffered excruciating hardships after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the island’s powerful donor, eventually forcing it to open up its economy to tourists and, very slowly, to some private businesses and property. real estate.

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