At the height of historic, spontaneous, rolling street protests across Cuba this weekend, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel commanded all die-hard “revolutionaries and communists” to take to the streets, too, and confront the “counterrevolutionaries.”
So it’s not surprising that as Cuba faced unprecedented pushback from its citizens, Díaz-Canel rolled out the oldest communist relic he could find: a 90-year-old Raúl Castro, who retired back in April.
On Sunday, Castro attended a communist party politburo meeting on how to address the protests in Cuba. The goal was to craft a plan to squelch protests that spread across the communist island.
In other words, Cuba’s communist regime is out of ideas. Has been for decades.
Unfortunately, the plan the government crafted may have worked — for now.
By Monday, the government had interrupted internet service, social-media platforms and cell phone service in Cuba.
If there were still protesters on the streets, the world couldn’t see them because of the blackout. That’s the Cuban way.
The idea is to stop an Arab Spring-style uprising and shut down international support.
Cuba has long defused public unrest with crackdowns. The approach has been so successful that the last time a whiff of public discontent escaped from the island was in 1994.
“We’ll defend the revolution at all costs,” Díaz-Canel promised in an article in Cuba’s government newspaper, Granma. There, Díaz-Canel — a hand-picked president, not an elected one — predictably accused the United States of being behind the protests. U.S. officials have dismissed those claims.
The United States long has been the bogeyman Cuban leaders have blamed for the island’s economic dysfunction. They’ve said the U.S. embargo is to blame for the demonstration — and not the people’s lack of freedom.
But the truth is, in recent months, Cuba has faced civil disobedience from the San Isidro Movement, a group of artists and journalists that loudly demanded an end to the dictatorship.
Cubans fed up
The protests come at a critical time for Cuba. There are food and medical shortages, aggravated by COVID-19. Vaccinations have fallen behind — in some cases because of a lack of syringes. Not in decades has the Cuban government experienced such dire conditions.
Nicked by the protests was Cuba’s well-crafted international reputation that everyone on the island is content.
But if Cubans on the island fell silent, Cubans Americans in Miami made up for it.
A group of local Cubans crippled one of Miami-Dade’s busiest roads. Scores of people strolled onto the Palmetto Expressway, near the Coral Way exit. Traffic on both sides was impacted just before afternoon rush hour.
In contrast to Cuba’s communist politburo meeting, Florida Gov. DeSantis met with members of the Miami-Dade delegation in a roundtable discussion to find ways to support Cubans. DeSantis suggested providing the island with internet service to give Cubans an international stage — one on which the relics of communism eventually will have no role.