With possibly the worst economic crisis since the socialist revolution began in 1959, and repression and violence increasing with each passing day, the Cuban people are on the verge of bursting.
Popular discontent in Cuba grows amidst insecurity, repression, and the economic package
The Cuban Observatory of Conflicts (OCC) recorded 626 public protests in Cuba in January 2024, with over half of them stemming from concerns about the proliferation of crime and social violence, repressive actions against the population, and the rise in prices of goods and service fees included in the unpopular “paquetazo” [economic package].
“For the first time, expressions of discontent related to the population’s insecurity and the wave of violence in the country led all other categories of the registry with 144,” said journalist Rolando Cartaya, the author of the monthly report, supported by the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba.
Regarding this phenomenon, the parish priest of the town of Esmeralda in the province of Camagüey, Alberto Reyes, attributed it to a combination of a values crisis, police apathy, and the desperate economic situation.
An incentive for popular repudiation was the so-called “paquetazo,” which includes increases in food prices and tariffs for various services.
“In third place in the protest categories was food, inflation, agriculture, driven by a set of government-announced measures that predict an increase in the cost of goods and services, a probable inflationary explosion, and less money in the pockets of Cubans.”
Protests based on repressive acts increased from 68 in December 2022 to 133 in January 2024, reflecting the government’s nervousness about a potential social uprising, according to the Observatory.
“The regime’s nervousness was evidenced by the tour undertaken by the ruler Miguel Díaz-Canel to try to curb the discontent caused by these unpopular measures.”
“The intensification of repression was observed at all levels against political prisoners and their families, opponents, protesters awaiting trial, commentators on social media, economic actors, private individuals, transporters, and even philanthropic activities led by independent civil society,” the specialist noted.
“As a counterpart to the increased repression, there were 88 challenges to the police state in January, including the burning of an effigy representing Díaz-Canel at the start of the new year, a collective protest over the milk quota for children in Palma Soriano in Santiago de Cuba; a carriage driver strike in Bayamo, the capital of Granma province, social media posts about the multilateral crisis and leaders’ mismanagement, the burning of a garbage dump by Lawton neighborhood residents in Havana, and a mother’s effective stand outside a prison demanding medical attention for her political prisoner son,” detailed the communicator.
Complaints regarding public health once again highlighted the growing dependence of patients on campaigns and social media fundraisers, public charity, or the black market to obtain medications and other resources, “in some cases, with a matter of life or death urgency,” noted the report.
There were 29 expressions of discontent related to public services and 27 related to housing problems.
Among other social issues that caused discontent among the population were pension reductions, suicides among adolescents and young people, rejection of the new Military Penal Code that sanctions evasion of military service with five years of imprisonment, the increasing presence of child beggars on the island, and the spread of a new drug called “El Químico,” according to the Cuban Observatory of Conflicts report.