Cuba points finger at US over unrest

Lazy eyes listen


On Monday, the front page of Cuba’s state-run Granma newspaper condemned the US for having “direct responsibility” for the enormous protests that swept the Caribbean island two years ago.

“The United States has direct responsibility for the disturbances of July 11 and 12, 2021,” the publication said ahead of the two-year anniversary of the unrest. It goes on to say that Washington bribed Cubans to participate in violent crimes such as robbery and assault.

The publication also stated that there was a “campaign of disinformation and slander” on social media as Havana was harmed by the US policy of “maximum pressure,” which it claims was “promoted by the White House.”

While US President Joe Biden has generally maintained his predecessor Donald Trump’s strong, maximum-pressure policies on Cuba, his government has eased some of the sanctions, such as lowering limits for US travelers and making family remittances to the island easier.

In July 2021, Cubans protested in around 50 locations, with many simply asking for “freedom,” in response to an economic crisis characterized as the worst the island has seen in three decades. Washington has imposed massive, decades-long sanctions on Havana, which, when combined with the economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak, has exacerbated the country’s financial difficulties.

Cuba has also battled fuel and pharmaceutical shortages, food distribution issues, and deteriorating public transportation. According to US official figures, at least 140,000 Cubans have relocated to the US since October 2021.

The US State Department has denied any role in the 2021 unrest and has advocated for the release of approximately 700 people who have been imprisoned on various accusations related to the protests, including sedition.

Washington claims that “the [Cuban] regime continues to violently repress virtually any kind of peaceful public dissent,” according to Reuters. It went on to say that Havana habitually “threatens families of detained protestors” who speak out about their family members’ detention.

The European Union (EU) has joined Washington in demanding the release of demonstrators associated in the 2021 protests.

However, the US’ antagonistic policies toward Cuba will make prisoner release “very difficult,” according to foreign relations specialist Arturo Lopez-Levy, who added that “a climate conducive to at least reducing tensions over the issue has not been built.”