The State of Affairs in Cuba and What You can do To Help
Many countries around the world have been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus. In some cases, it has brought down major cities, killed tens of thousands, and put even more of a hardship on some travel-dependent economies.
None more than Cuba with its tourism industry being one of the main pillars of economic infrastructure.
Add to that the growing inflation, shortages of food and medicine, rolling blackouts, and its dependence on nearly collapsed Venezuela being a main supplier of fuel, Cuban unrest is growing rapidly.
On July 11, 2021, thousands of Cubans took to the streets in an unprecedented show of discontent. Surpassing the August 5 protests in 1994, the protests are the largest seen in Cuba in over 60 years. Learn more here.
But what are they actually protesting?
The Cuban Government and Supplies
Soaring global food prices this year, basic medicines scarce in both pharmacies and hospitals, and the island’s devalued currency — coupled with shortages of basic goods that predate the pandemic — have fueled massive discontent.
At the beginning of 2021, Cuba was on track to inoculate 70% of its 11 million people as early as August. However, Cuba is suffering from a dire shortage of syringes (since both the vaccines require 3 doses) and the fast roll out has now been severely impeded.
If the target had been achieved, Cuba would have become the first country in the world to immunize its entire population with its own created and manufactured vaccine.
Cuban Government Rejects US Dollars
Then in June 2021, the Cuban government in response to US sanctions put a stop to banks accepting cash deposits in US dollars. Unfortunately, the main currency that Cubans receive from abroad is in USD. To further complicate things, in one of his last days in his presidency, former President Donald Trump placed further sanctions that limited remittances sent to the island.
Cuban Government and Freedom of Expression
The San Isidro Movement is a group of Cuban artists, journalists, and academics who formed the movement to protest increased censorship of artistic expression leading to arrests and protest. It was created in response to the government’s Decree 349.
The law, prohibits all artists, including collectives, musicians, and performers, from operating in public and private spaces without prior approval from the country’s Ministry of Culture.
It sparked widespread protest across the country, and the San Isidro Movement has been at the forefront.
Then came Decree 370 which was passed in 2019. It cracked down on several Internet freedoms afforded to Cubans, but most importantly, penalized the dissemination of information contrary to “social interest,” “morals,” and “good customs” on social media.
The US government has now become involved in the Cuban government repealing Decree 349 and 370.
What Can we Do?
Former President Barrack Obama was a friend of Cuba in that he historically opened travel and rolled back economic restrictions. Unfortunately, former President Donald Trump undid all his work and went several steps forward to not only undo Obama’s diplomacy but setup 200+ signed directives targeting the economy of Cuba.
At the beginning of 2021, 80 Democrats urged Biden to “assist struggling Cuban families and promote a more constructive approach by promptly returning to the Obama-Biden administration policy of engagement and normalization of relations.”
The Biden Administration is currently taking all of this under review.
Call on the U.S. to:
Grant U.S. citizens the right to travel freely to Cuba
Resume flights from the U.S., not only to Havana but to all major Cuban cities
Lift all restrictions on sending remittances to Cuba
Reopen a fully staffed U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Havana instead of the skeletal staff that exists now
Restart the program of family reunification that Trump suspended in 2017
Stop Decree 349 and Decree 370 and give freedom of expression back to the people
Write letters, email, and call your senators, congressmen, and congresswomen about the current situation in Cuba. You can find your representatives by using this link.
Visit: https://www.facebook.com/EndtheEmbargo/ to learn more.
IMPORTANT: Donate to Global Health Partners to get much-needed syringes to Cuba. https://ghpartners.org/syringes4cuba/
Donate to the Cuba Solidarity Campaign to help Cuba access the vital medical supplies and raw materials it needs to treat COVID-19 patients and vaccinate its population. https://cuba-solidarity.org.uk/emergency-appeal-for-cuba/
Internet in Cuba is extremely expensive for the average Cuban and is controlled by the government. Providing citizens with internet is essential to getting their stories out. Cubanos Pa'lante has been on a recharge (recarga) campaign that you can donate to here.
TRAVEL TO CUBA
Cuba Travel Adventures Group wants to get you there as soon and as safely as possible. This is what we know so far but we will always keep you up to date so that you can plan your adventure travels to Cuba.
The airports are ready to welcome the commercial flights but with a temporary reduction in the frequency of flights from some countries. Excursions and tours are not permitted and movement between provinces is suspended. A PCR test 72 hours before arrival, then on arrival, and again 5 days after arrival are also required. Mandatory quarantine in selected hotels is required and is purchased as a quarantine package.
Duty free importation of food, hygiene products, and medicines in passengers’ luggage has been temporarily authorized until December 31, 2021. The only limits applied to this are those of the airline carrier.
Have questions? Please contact us here.