September 27, 2021

Cuban government makes first move after protests

The Cuban government is playing the appeasement card. The authorities announced, Wednesday, July 14, a first round of measures to calm tensions, in particular by facilitating the entry to the island of food and medicines, three days after historic events from which he acknowledged having to learn lessons. ‘.

The authorities have decided to “ exceptionally and temporarily authorize the importation by passengers, in their suitcases, of food, hygiene products and medicines, without limit of value and without customs taxes ”, declared the Prime Minister. , Manuel Marrero, on television where he appeared accompanied by the president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, and several ministers. ‘This is a measure that we are taking until December 31,’ he said.

Facilitate the entry of goods

Facilitating the entry to the island of essential goods was one of the demands of the Cuban population, faced with severe shortages, aggravated by the economic crisis that is hitting the country, the worst in 30 years.

In an open letter published recently, a group of artists and intellectuals had called for just such a measure.

The Minister of the Economy, Alejandro Gil, for his part announced the end of the limit on salaries in state-owned enterprises, which were subject to a strict salary scale.

‘We are eliminating the limit on the salary scale for state-owned enterprises, as a first step’, according to ‘the principle of earning more if you produce more wealth and if you are more efficient’.

Finally, the Prime Minister said that residents could temporarily move to another city and benefit from the libreta, the supply book, when it was impossible before.

The measures are announced three days after Sunday’s protests when thousands of Cubans took to the streets in some 40 towns and villages screaming ‘We are hungry’, ‘Freedom’ and ‘Down with the dictatorship’.

‘A critical analysis of our problems’

The mobilisations, some of which continued on Monday, left one dead and more than 100 detained, causing concern in the international community.

If he reiterated his accusations against the United States, which he designates as the instigator of these demonstrations via a campaign on Twitter with the hashtag #SOSCuba, President Diaz-Canel has however changed his speech.

‘We also need to learn from these troubles, we also need to critically analyze our problems,’ he said, acknowledging that there are ‘things we need to perfect’.

Because among the demonstrators there were ‘dissatisfied people’, estimated the communist leader.

And ‘maybe also it will be necessary to apologize to those who, in the midst of the confusion in these kinds of events, have been taken (for troublemakers) and abused’, acknowledging that the protests have left ‘dozens of wounded’.

The president launched ‘an appeal for peace, understanding among Cubans and respect (…). What we must encourage, even if we sometimes have different points of view on certain subjects, is to try to find solutions, among all of them.

On Wednesday, calm had apparently returned to Cuba, placed under strong police and military surveillance, especially around the Capitol in Havana, seat of Parliament.

In this area where thousands of Cubans had swept in on Sunday, several police trucks were parked, AFP noted.

Internet restored

Mobile internet, interrupted since the protests, began to be restored, but it remained unstable and it was impossible to access social networks and instant messaging applications.

With 3G or 4G, access to WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, among others, was blocked. In the street, residents managed to connect to the internet intermittently.

‘Social networks are totally aggressive, they call for murder, lynching, and attacks against people, especially those identified as revolutionaries,’ President Diaz-Canel denounced earlier today, according to images. of the national newspaper.

‘This speech that they are trying to convey (on social networks) according to which the Cuban government is repressive (…) is totally false, it is slander’, he added, accusing these ‘media terrorism’ networks.

Washington reiterated its calls for the immediate release of detained protesters and called for an end to internet restrictions.

‘Attempts to gag, including by technological means, the voice of the Cuban people will never be able to silence or stifle their legitimate aspirations for freedom, for human rights,’ State Department spokesman Ned said. Price.