Cuban President Blames US-Backed “Mercenaries” For Protests, Urges “Revolutionary Citizens” Fight Back
Cuba’s President and Communist Party chief Miguel Diaz-Canel has blamed unprecedented large-scale protests gripping Cuba’s streets this week on foreign meddling, specifically charging the United States with stoking and fueling the anti-government demonstrations which have seen fierce clashes with police. At a Monday news conference, the same day Joe Biden said “We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom” – Diaz-Canal further called on “revolutionary” citizens to counter the protests which he said are led by “vulgar criminals”.
“The order to fight has been given – into the street, revolutionaries!” the Communist leader urged. He further ranted about external agitators waging a “nonconventional war” especially utilizing the internet and social media with Washington’s help, slamming US-led sanctions in place for over a half-century a “policy of economic suffocation”.
“This policy of sanctions that prevents any kind of fuel arriving in Cuba has put us in a very difficult situation,” Diaz-Canel continued while denouncing “those who seek to discredit the revolution and fracture the unity of our country.”
And according to BBC, “Mr Díaz-Canel said the protesters were mercenaries hired by the US to destabilise the country, and called for his supporters to go out and defend the revolution – referring to the 1959 uprising which ushered in Communist rule.”
Multiple international correspondents on the ground have pointed to initial small scale protest quickly exploding across the island via social media despite government attempts to impose a blackout on coverage of protests. It appears to have started south-west of Havana in Antonio de los Baños.
Cubans are facing one of the worst economic crises in years which has included acute fuel and food shortages, soaring prices for basic necessities, and government mismanagement and fumbling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The police and security crackdown appears to be growing in harshness, fueling further outrage in the streets…
these scenes emerging from the protests in Cuba are absolutely heartbreaking 🙁 pic.twitter.com/WHaishz4io
— Rob (@robrousseau) July 12, 2021
One protester was cited by BBC as saying, “There is no food, no medicine, there is no freedom. They do not let us live.” In some instances the protesters’ desperation and attempted crackdown by security forces has turned violent:
Posts on social media showed people overturning police cars and looting some state-owned shops which price their goods in foreign currencies. For many Cubans, these shops are the only way they can buy basic necessities but prices are high.
Officials in Havana are seizing on these scenes to highlight the “criminality” of the “agitators” while calling on Cubans to safeguard the Communist revolution.
The United States stands with the Cuban people seeking freedom and respect for their human rights. Violence against peaceful protestors is abhorrent. We urge restraint and respect for the voice of the people. pic.twitter.com/XYoKAM42XM
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) July 12, 2021
The US has responded to this escalation in rhetoric by President Diaz-Canel, with top US diplomat for Latin America, Julie Chung, stating: “We are deeply concerned by ‘calls to combat’ in Cuba.”
Meanwhile, hawkish senators like Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz have continued their calls for the Cuban regime to be consigned to the “dustbin of history” – as Cruz put it yesterday, also with the Mayor of Miami Francis Suarez going so far as to call for a Libya-style military intervention.
“Arab Spring”-style US ops and intervention in the Caribbean?
Re: Cuba protests. 🇨🇺🇺🇸
I’d just like to point out that the US House appropriations budget has just alloted $20 million to “democracy” projects in Cuba. What they mean by “democracy” is made clear when they say that not one penny can be used to help the Cuban govt. pic.twitter.com/InYTmw4JrH
— Alan MacLeod (@AlanRMacLeod) July 12, 2021
Suarez told a rally on Monday that an international intervention led by the United States is needed “to protect the Cuban people from a bloodbath.” However, we can’t imagine that such simple jingoistic ‘solutions’ as this actually helps the protesters’ cause.