President Joe Biden has commended the anti-government Cuban protests. He has highly praised efforts by Cubans to protest against the massive price hike and food shortages. This is one of the historically important protests that the Cuban island stands witness to.
Cuban protests increase against an authoritarian government
The Cubans want to set free from an overtly authoritarian regime. In a short interview with reporters at the beginning of an important meeting with law enforcement officers and mayors, he said he had not seen anything similar to these demonstrations in the past. The discussion was regarding the misuse of guns in the USA.
This was, however, a shift in strategy from what Barack Obama undertook. He favored to cool off situations between Havana and Washington. Meanwhile, he loosened the economic sanctions imposed by the USA.
President Donald Trump reversed these decisions. He limited travel to Cuba. Moreover, he banned any kinds of financial and monetary transactions with more than dozens of Cuban enterprises.
Biden, on July 12, however, gave a contrary statement. He said he and his people stand by the fight of the Cubans against age-long governmental repression. He further added, Cubans were fighting for their universal and fundamental rights and were asserting them bravely.
The acting assistant secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Julie Chung, stated these protests were staged to exercise the right to assemble for peaceful protests. These were organized to voice their concerns for increasing Covid-19 cases and deaths and also medical shortage. She also praised the efforts that the Cubans were making to lift these problems,
Vaccine shortage issues in Cuba
Jen Psaki, the press secretary of the White House, has contextualized these protests within a broader reference frame. He suggests that these protests are the cumulative reaction to the long eras of exploitations and economic mismanagement by the Cuban government.
He further added that the USA was happy to help Cuba in the vaccination drive. But Cuban government is reluctant to take part in COVAX. COVAX is an initiative to distribute vaccines to poorer nations. This stance basically complicated the USA’s efforts to help Cuba.
Psaki, in his statement, recognized that vaccine shortage is certainly one among many issues for which Cuban people are protesting on the ground. However, to alleviate that, a proper mechanism should be at work.
The protest scenes also turned violent at moments. The police didn’t intervene but were closely following them when the protesters cried the mantras of freedom. One local person was also seen holding a USA flag which, however, was snatched by others.
After two or two and a half hours, some protesters even started stone-pelting at the police. To this, the police reacted and started making arrests. Also, police detained as many as 20 people.
American Senator Marco Rubio criticized Biden for his late acknowledgment of the protests. He took to Twitter to lash out at the American President.