The Cubans are finally protesting. Now, think about how bad the situation has to be in Cuba for them to step out of their lanes and protest in Cuba? Cuba is not a place that is known for its tolerance for protests and push back against the government. Of course, that is ironic because the whole point of the Cuban revolution was to give power to the people. As it is in many revolutions, the power does not shift from the ruling power to the people, it shifts from one face to the next face with similar policies.
Everyone cheers for a while and then goes back to what they know as everything returns back to what it was before, immediately, or slowly. Then, one will notice that individuals will have to revolt again after time passes because the situation becomes quite dire again. This is what is happening now in Cuba.
The situation has gotten out of hand and protestors in Cuba are saying that they are not afraid anymore. When you do not have anything to lose, that is when you find that you find the motivation to push back and push back hard. Cuba has been having problems? But what kind of problems? Here is what you have to know about Cuba’s economic decline and why Cubans are fed up and looking for change.
Cuba’s Economic Problems Have Been Growing
Cuba’s problems did not appear overnight, they’ve been there, slowly growing while Cuba’s leaders looked the other way. One of the main reasons for its economic stagnation and decline is the fact the Cuban government has not been investing into it’s nation. Cuba has been a country that has not had as much relevance on an international economic level and it continues to stay that way due to its politics and opposite views to the United States.
That lack of relevance and economic stagnation only compounds in a pandemic. If individuals were living in a situation where they were paycheck to paycheck before the pandemic, think about how they would during the pandemic when everything slows down or comes to a stop. Indeed, pandemic related economic problems and protests are not only seen in Cuba but in other places such as Colombia as well.
Now, in Cuba and places like Colombia, take out tourism and that affects a portion of GDP. When you think about it a little more, you think about how tourism supports lodging, restaurants, adventure providers, tourist companies, and a host of other service providers who benefit from the various transactions present in or due to tourism.
Reports indicate that Cuba’s seeing economic contraction of over twelve percent, a data point, that many think should worsen. A substantial portion of Cubans are affected by the pandemic because of the lack of tourism. The tourism industry touches many sectors and allows individuals to somehow make a living, however meager it may be, because of it. The second element that helps to keep Cubans afloat is remittances.
“Bendixen and Associates estimated that 440,000 Cuban-Americans remitted an average of $1,050 per person, for total remittances of $460 mil- lion per annum.”
But that is another sector that would take a significant hit due to the pandemic.
If Cubans abroad were not earning or were themselves relying on the government for housing and earnings, they would not be in a position to send remittances back to their families and friends. The cash dried up and the situation became much less bearable.
The Cuban Government Implements the Unification of Currencies
The Cuban government chose an interesting time to unifying their two currencies, US dollar-pegged Cuban convertible pesos and the Cuban pesos. While everyone expected this to happen eventually, Cuban citizens did not expect it to happen rapidly during a pandemic. That move made it to where people’s livelihoods were disrupted significantly, yet again.
Due to Cuban pesos now seeing significant devaluation, that created significant issues for those who were used to transacting in those pesos. Those who did not have access to foreign currency would not fare well in transactions.
“For those on the other side of the bargain, however, who have to buy foreign currency with the pesos they earn, food and medicine prices doubled and then doubled again. Protester after protester on Sunday told reporters they went into the streets because people are hungry and have nothing to eat.“
Now, on top of a pandemic, a currency devaluation, a new monetary system, black markets, rising food prices, and more, Cubans have to deal with daily six hour or more power outages! The situation has been trending down for a long time, slowly at first and now rapidly.