Uprising in Cuba: July 11th was an extraordinary day in Cuba

Jay Nordlinger in National Review:

A Revolt in Cuba

Last month, thousands of Cubans poured into the streets, putting the government on notice

July 11 was an extraordinary day in Cuba. Thousands of people poured into the streets, to protest the dictatorship that rules them. Mass protests are very rare in Cuba. Any kind of protest is dangerous.

In August 1994, there was a significant protest, known as the “Maleconazo uprising.” (The name comes from the Malecón, the seaside thoroughfare in Havana.) In the end, some 35,000 Cubans left on rafts or anything else that might float. They were known as the balseros, or “boat people” (a name we applied to Vietnamese refugees, too).

The U.S. government implemented its “wet foot, dry foot” policy: If you made it to land — to American soil — you could stay and apply for residency; if you were intercepted by U.S. authorities at sea, you were sent back. This policy ended in 2017 — after which, all Cubans, with dry or wet feet, were sent back.

In any event, Cuba had never seen protests on the scale of those that occurred this July 11. Question: Why now? Why then?

Cuba is in miserable condition. There is little food, little medicine, and little hope. Since June, the pandemic has surged in Cuba. Death and despair is all around.

Yes, but it has long been. Cuba has been a Communist dictatorship since 1959. The economy in 1994 — during the “special period,” following the collapse of the Soviet Union — was even worse. As José de Córdoba, a Cuban-American reporter for the Wall Street Journaltold me, the cats disappeared in Cuba during this period. So, what is different about today? Cubans recently gained greater access to the Internet. And they were able to spread information around. People quickly learned of protests in one town, and started them in another.

“Freedom!” “Enough!” “Unity!” They chanted those words in the streets.

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