By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES – Independent of the debatable causes, among them government mismanagement and arrogance, and the US embargo, Cuba is currently facing a growing humanitarian crisis.
The government doesn’t want to admit the situation is out of its control, but the nationwide protests on July 11th, plus its own daily Covid-19 statistics, show locals and the world a different reality.
Just two facts of life for the majority of the population: little food and almost no medicines available, would be enough for a responsible government to call for help. Then add the out-of-control Covid-19 situation in recent weeks and you have the perfect meltdown and a lot of human suffering.
In a recent post I mentioned a far from perfect suggestion to seek temporary relief of the food and medicine shortage. Things Cuba could do independent of the US or other demons. However, bold steps to face the emergency seem off the table thus far, as the government tries to demonstrate widespread support for its policies even after the massive spontaneous protests.
Looking outside instead of inward, the Diaz Canel response is that Joe Biden should repeal the 60-year-old embargo on Cuba. He also demands the US stop financing Cuba’s thousands of domestic mercenaries and delinquents, the terms used for anyone expressing disagreement with government policies, or God forbid, openly criticizing the president and top Communist Party leaders.
The worsening official Covid-19 numbers
Ministry of Health data on Covid-19 cases and deaths show the last week as by far the worst since the pandemic began in Cuba in March 2020.
The Saturday figures were 6,279 new cases and 62 deaths. The two preceding days were 6540 and 65, and 6062 and 52. In the last months the surge in Covid-19 cases has occurred in every province and virtually ever municipality in the country. The situation began to get out of control in March 2021 when the figures began to spike sharply, and the upward trend continues today. During the last month the highly contagious Delta strain is spreading fast.
When considering the numbers for Cuba, keep in mind the island has 11.2 million inhabitants, according to the last census, around 30 times less than the US, for example.
On July 15th the official Granma newspaper reported that while Cuba had less active cases than the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica and Bolivia, it was ranked 12th in the world with more cases per million inhabitants than Argentina, Spain, Panama and Brazil.
Cuba continues to develop five vaccines in different trial and verification stages, the pride and joy of the Diaz Canel government, as well as hope for a highly profitable commodity for the State. While two of the vaccines are being used to vaccinate a portion of the Cuban population on an emergency basis, none have yet to obtain full international health organizations’ approval.
Cuba’s leading political and economic ally, Venezuela, is also starting to administer the Cuban vaccines and Iran is collaborating with Cuba on a joint vaccine effort in a clinical trial phase in Iran.
As Cuba banked on a homegrown solution to Covid-19, it rejected the international programs to supply vaccines it could have joined including the Covax initiative. Likewise, deals could have been worked out for vaccines from its allies in Russia and China. But the Diaz-Canel government preferred to go it alone, and now the population is paying the price.
The government is still resisting declaring a humanitarian crisis despite the critical food and medicine shortages and Covid-19 spike, which could lead to considerable assistance from abroad. They are simply too proud to admit the disastrous situation and their inability to face up to it, preferring to blame the United States for all the country’s problems.