Protests in Cuba and What They Mean

Map of the protests in Cuba since July 2022. By ProyectoInventario

By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez

HAVANA TIMES – After July 11, 2021, a lot of things changed forever in our country. It’s an undeniable fact.  A social uprising broke out in Cuba and the population proved their rebelliousness against the continuity of the system and the severe and unbearable national crisis that this had led to.

One of these things has been the habit to protest, taking to the streets to express popular discontent. A step forward that is being practiced more and more, even though it still isn’t a widespread practice considered a right people have access to without consequence. Protests against long blackouts before and after Hurricane Ian are proof of this.

It’s still so strange to see people take to the streets without being called on by the Government for its own interests, turning the gears of social control. We still don’t see it for what it really is: exercising a human right, that’s it. This has been a great and important success on its own.

But seeing people take to the streets because of any trigger – such as blackouts now and the collapse of the public health system last year -, a lot of good Cubans desperate for democratic change are seeing it as a way to overthrow the PCC Government and they are placing all their bets on it.

They are confusing a people who are barely learning to have a civic spirit and who have been willing to stand up to the system, tired and with very few tools still, with a civically mature people who are willing to overthrow the system with a continuous social uprising. Quite an unrealistic expectation and, thus, unsatisfied. This isn’t the landscape now in Cuba, and it’s very unlikely that this will happen for the time being.

We are making progress; people are becoming more aware as active citizens and protests are an example of this. The Cuban people have pretty much broken all ties with continuity of the system led by Miguel Diaz-Canel’s government today, and this symbolic social event that is called “the Revolution”, or Socialism, but to a lesser extent. Our people are diverse in their opinions, but they all agree that Cuba desperately needs change, and the Government isn’t giving any sign of accepting this.

The wise thing to do would be for the pacific political opposition to not put the bar so high for the short rod of our people’s civic spirit, which is still minimized by an intact totalitarian system. Instead, make the most of these events as best they can to win more rights and not more disappointments. The PCC hasn’t been overthrown, but it is out of its comfort zone, and this makes it the time to make democratic gains, not chase after its absolute defeat.

The strategy employed by the San Isidro Movement, 27N and Archipielago, is still on track. If we can’t make changes from the inside, it’s possible to do this from the outside, but the winning strategy is to insist on a dialogue and strengthen civic spirit, not to give up for any reason.

Repression decimates these efforts, it forces us to change the space, but it can’t make us lose focus or become radicalized. Fighting an extremist opposition is comfortable for the system, but it isn’t comfortable with a moderate opposition that is willing to sit down and engage in a dialogue. This, because keeping cool is a must in politics, without going to the extreme no matter how much repression we suffer. It will move the ground beneath their feet, weaken them and most likely, force them to tacitly recognize what’s happening and finally sit down to talk. Even if it fails, this will always be an important gain for the opposition. It’s better than forcing a people to do something they aren’t ready for and will pay dearly for.

Our people will go out to protest more and more regularly, that’s a fact. People are fed up with hardship and shortages. Any eventuality like a hurricane, drawn-out blackout, delays in the rationed food delivery or a tsunami, will just be the trigger. The dynamite is people’s exhaustion, their lack of hope and zero faith in the government.

Providing the Cuban people with a coherent plan, a road map that suits them and “wins them over”, would be the most sensible thing to do. Filling the political void left by the PCC when it lost all credibility with the general population, is a must.

But to do this, we need to overcome a lot of mental barriers and study our people with humility and objectivity. More importantly, we need to respect their political situation and expectations. A formula that doesn’t belong to anyone but is more likely to have results is if the opposition reacts and takes advantage of this fertile soil and void. However, nothing is stopping the Government from doing the same thing, and it could, if willing, shake off its dogma and misfortunes. At the end of the day, the most important thing is the outcome: if Cuba wins, we all win.

Read more from the diary of Osmel Ramirez here.

3 thoughts on “Protests in Cuba and What They Mean

  • Osmel is very eloquent in his writing, your reply does him a disservice, thank you.

  • Osmel what Nick trying to tell you is that extreme repressive left wing government is better that an open market freedom of expression, respect for the private properties. Capitalism right wing system. Of course just in case Osmel if you don’t know Nick live in a capitalist country. But not even the Polish ppl that went from a extreme left wing system that nobody chose to an elected extreme right wing country would go to the left think about it Osmel. And good luck

  • Osmel’s optimism is wonderful.
    If only we can achieve this one little triumph then all will be fine and we’re all gonna evolve into a fantasyland of Disneyworld happy ever after prosperity.
    Osmel is a nice guy. He has a liberal and humanitarian perspective.
    But what may happen is that the whole sh*t-show that rules right now gets replaced by a short term holding operation approved by the USA and the right wing fraternity in Miami.
    Then these greedy little motherf**kers insert a bunch of right wing extremists in the mould of your bolsonaro or your trump.
    And nice guy Osmel with his pleasant, middle way, liberal preference goes from a rock to a hard place??
    I hope that whatever supersedes the current poor situation in Cuba is better rather than worse in the long term. I hope and pray that this transpires.
    But I ain’t gonna bet a single penny on that being the way it pans out.
    Cuba is a unique sh*t-show.
    It could end up being a run of the mill sh*t-show.

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