By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – It seems like the new coronavirus has come to stick around with us for a long time. Its peculiar characteristics that allow it to remain within the human body for many days, without being detected, make it difficult to stop the spread, turning it into an unstoppable pandemic.
Earlier this year, the world underestimated it, believing it would disappear in a few months. Many countries did give it the attention it warranted, putting human health above the economy’s needs.
In the beginning, our country didn’t assess the danger COVID-19 posed to the population. While many countries were adopting measures to close ranks against the disease, the Cuban government was playing with the idea of safe tourism in a land that was seemingly invincible to the pandemic.
However, good sense won out in the end and restrictions we are all familiar with, came into effect. The government ranted and raved about how the US and Brazilian governments were dealing with the virus.
They didn’t criticize Ortega in Nicaragua, who turned a blind eye to any threat or danger the new coronavirus poses. However, we know they are an allied leftist government, and politics is normally rife with double or triple standards.
Cuban leaders believed the virus wouldn’t even last three months, that it could be stopped. Measures were taken which haven’t been successful in stopping the spread, as we well know. When we thought that everything was back under control, COVID-19 showed signs of not wanting to disappear and new outbreaks, especially in Havana, soon appeared.
The world understood a while ago that the only an efficient vaccine could stop the pandemic. This is why they are opening up their economies and relaxing restrictions.
Cuba is not an exception
Now, people are talking about the “new normal”, and while fines are still imposed, restrictions are being gradually lifted.
What our leaders criticized so much about other Governments’ courses of action, has now become their new survival strategy. Borders are beginning to open to foreign tourism and restrictions of Cuban people’s movement are being lifted. They have warned that if they continue with the previous policy, poverty will reach unsustainable levels. This could lead to social uprisings that wouldn’t be pleasant for our ruling class in the slightest.
While we know the submission of a people within a totalitarian system can reach inconceivable levels, everything has a limit. If the Cuban people have nothing to eat, desperation could lead to incidents such as August 5th 1994, known as the Maleconazo.
So, considering the cost-benefit relationship, the government leans towards opening the economy as the most sensible thing to do. They know that as long as people continue to barely survive, they will continue to be subjugated.
In the face of COVID-19, praying for a vaccine to appear, if things take a turn for the worst, they will always have the option of sugarcoating statistics.
For now, here in Pinar del Rio, which had managed to keep the disease in check, we have suddenly had more than 50 new cases in a week alone. I believe that this will unfortunately also happen in other provinces.