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Cuban fury in rare show of defiance

Regional 20 Mar, 2024 Follow News

Cubans protested in Santiago

Cubans in their hundreds, so frustrated with chronic power blackouts and food shortages, staged a rare public protest on Sunday in Santiago, the island’s second-largest city.

The island is facing its worst economic crisis for three decades, with large parts of Cuba being left without power for more than 14 hours a day. Videos on social media show people chanting “power and food”.

Its president blames the situation on US sanctions, but critics say it is down to government mismanagement.

Since 1960, the US has maintained an economic embargo against Cuba which puts strict rules on trade between the countries.

The Cuban economy has been in dire straits in recent years. The coronavirus pandemic put further strain on the cash-strapped nation of 11 million people, which has led to vast shortages of food, fuel and medicine.

In February, the government asked the UN’s food programme for help with food shortages, sending an unprecedented request for assistance in providing powdered milk to children under the age of seven.

But tensions have soared in recent weeks as power generators fail to get the fuel they need for electricity in people’s homes and for storing food in fridges and freezers. Record-breaking numbers of Cubans have migrated to the US because of the economic conditions.

Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel acknowledged the protests on social media and said the “disposition” of his government and authorities was “to attend to the complaints of our people, listen, dialogue, explain the numerous efforts that are being carried out to improve the situation”.

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