The story of Cuba is not just about becoming a communist country. He is also an example in many ways. An example to be remembered long and far in history. But is that example slowly moving towards becoming history itself?
Anti-government protests in Cuba (Photo Credit: PTI)
When Fidel Castro and his revolutionary comrades started the Cuban Revolution in July 1953, the slogan of their revolution was – “Patria o Muerte.” It meant homeland or death. Motherland or death. After 5 years in 1958, the revolutionaries finally overthrew Batista’s power and established a communist state, and Fidel Castro himself held the command of that communist country for 46 years. And today, almost 6 decades after that revolution, on July 11, once again hundreds of people took to the streets of Havana. This time he was not shouting “Patria o Muerte”. They were saying – “Patria y Vida” which meant – Homeland and Life. Motherland and Life.
This was the first time in Cuba’s history in the last 30 years that people took to the streets against the government. Once the motherland which was worth more than his life and he was ready to die for it, now he was asking for life for himself from the same motherland.
The anti-government protests, which began in Havana and Santiago on July 11, have spread across the country within days. Even in Chile, Argentina and Miami, people are demonstrating in favor of the Cuban people and against the government. Cubans living in Chile protested in front of the Cuban Consulate. The people living in Miami demanded from the US government that they should cooperate with the people of Cuba. Even in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires, people gathered in front of the Cuban Embassy and raised anti-government slogans. Cuban American rapper, singer and businessman Pitbull shared an emotional song on social media and called on the whole world to help the Cuban people in this time of crisis.
People from the rest of the world were also continuously giving their reactions on Twitter. One user wrote in Spanish, “We are watching history happen before our very eyes. This is not just an anti-government protest, it also marks the end of an era. The repressive policies of the Cuban government cannot be defended by blaming the American embargo for every problem.”
There is also a special reason for this anti-government protest. The economy of Cuba has been badly affected in the last few years and especially after the spread of the COVID 19 epidemic all over the world. The impact is so deep that even food and medicine have become a crisis. In 2020, this economic crisis deepened so much that Cuba’s economy shrank 10.9 percent. In the next year i.e. 2021, it shrunk further by two percent. Cuba had refused to take vaccine help from other countries. He made his own vaccine, but the process of making it lasted a little longer and during this the epidemic kept taking more formidable form. The vaccine was reaching people very slowly. Even today, only 15 percent of the citizens have been vaccinated there.
However, this health crisis was very new for the Cuban people because they knew a government system, where a health clinic and doctor was always available every 300 meters. Where health services were completely free for all citizens. The country that first built the world’s strongest health infrastructure immediately after the revolution, when its people were dying of poverty, hunger and diseases, and at the behest of America, Cuba from the rest of the world to give help even to medicines. had refused. Even today, the infant and maternal mortality rate in Cuba is lower than that of America, the most powerful country in the world. Cuba’s healthcare system has been the subject of study for universities such as Harvard and Cambridge.
If a country, whose health care system has been exemplified, if suddenly it reaches such a situation that there is a crisis of medicines, then the crisis is probably elsewhere. There have been several immediate reasons for the collapse of the Cuban economy. The biggest reason was the closure of aid from Cuba’s ally Venezuela. A large part of Cuba’s economy was dependent on tourism, which was most negatively affected by the COVID epidemic. The tourism business came to a complete standstill and due to this the employment of lakhs of people was directly ended. These are some immediate reasons, but there will be other reasons for the sinking economy, which may have arisen due to government policies and leadership.
At present, the people who came on the streets of Havana in anti-government slogans were raising another slogan and that was anti-communism slogan. People were talking about personal freedom, freedom of expression. People are fed up with the censorship of the Communist government. It is a matter of fact that communist governments insist on creating a more just and equal society, but at the same time personal freedom has no place in their dictionary. There is no place for disagreement and protest. In Cuba too, the government has currently banned WhatsApp, Facebook and social media. Many countries of the world and the European Union have given statements in favor of the people of Cuba and the Cuban government in its defense is saying that all this is American propaganda, a conspiracy of America.
The story of Cuba is not just about becoming a communist country. He is also an example in many ways. An example to be remembered long and far in history. But that example is now slowly moving towards being history itself. As people are writing on Twitter – this may be the beginning of the end of an era.