The 1970s was a dark decade for Cuba, a decade of economic crisis, political oppression and repression. It was a time when there was little hope and no future, but the country’s youth had other ideas. Instead of giving up, they fought back.

The world is reeling from the news of the death of Fidel Castro. The Cuban leader, who led the Communist state for nearly half a century, died at the age of 90. His death has had a huge impact on the island’s economy and politics, but what about the lives of the Cuban people?

Anti-government demonstrators march in Havana, July 11.

Photo:

Ismael Francisco/Associated Press

The remarkable demonstrations in Cuba this weekend show that despite decades of oppression, the Cuban people still yearn for a life free of tyranny. President

Biden

struck the right tone on Monday by expressing American support for the protesters, and let’s hope it continues to do so by increasing pressure on the regime.

Protests are not uncommon in Cuba, where most people live in extreme poverty and a small ruling elite benefits from a state economy dependent on foreign dollars and euros. But Sunday’s riots were unusual in that they arose almost spontaneously and spread across the island as information was disseminated through social media and apps such as Telegram.

The protests were not planned or organized. Cubans took to the streets to express their opposition to the economic impact of Covid-19, which is poorly managed on the island, widespread shortages of food and medicine, and numerous daily power outages.

The protesters adopted the call for freedom and sang the popular song Patria y Vida (Homeland and Life) to break with the apartheid regime.

Che Guevara

the revolutionary slogan of homeland or death. Social media is dangerous for a dictatorship because it allows people to share their discontent and feel that they are not alone.

This time it’s different because

Fidel Castro

died, his brother

Raul

no longer holds an official position and his successor, Miguel Diaz-Canel, cannot claim any legitimacy outside the military and intelligence services that support him. The willingness of the population to risk arrest by taking to the streets is a sign that the suffering is so great that most Cubans have nothing left to lose.

It is not known whether this outbreak will be persistent or whether it can be suppressed like any other. The regime will take no chances. Diaz-Canel unleashed his military and Interior Ministry officials to end the protests with arrests and beatings.

On Sunday, he called on revolutionaries – thugs in plain clothes – to take to the streets and attack protesters, warning that his opponents would only step on our corpses if they wanted to reverse the revolution. This use of state violence is commonplace in Cuba and there are reports that Mr Diaz-Canel has shut down all regime-controlled internet services. He won’t give up so easily because he has something to lose.

The United States cannot dictate events in Cuba, but we were pleased to hear President Biden say Monday that Sunday’s demonstrations are a call for freedom and liberation from the tragic grip of the pandemic, decades of repression and economic misery in Havana. He also urged the Cuban regime to listen to the people at this crucial moment and meet their needs rather than enrich itself.

The challenge for the government is to turn these words into real support for the liberation of this people, who have been suffering for so long. First step: don’t fall back on a failed appeasement.

Barack Obama

which expanded U.S. travel and trade with the island, but did nothing about political or economic reform. The regime has become more vulnerable because.

Donald Trump

some U.S. sanctions are back in effect, and his allies in Venezuela can no longer supply much oil to keep the lights on and supply the military.

The United States could increase financial pressure and impose Magnitsky sanctions on human rights violators in Cuba. Helping the protesters shut down the Internet in Cuba would be invaluable, and the warning from Russia and China not to interfere in the affairs of the regime is right. The chances of a revolution for freedom may be high, but the Cuban people need to hear loud and clear that America is on their side and not the communist regime.

Newspaper article: The best and worst news of the week by Kim Strassel, Kyle Peterson, Gillian Melchior and Dan Henninger. Image: NY Post/Zuma Press/AFP via Getty Images Compilation: Mark Kelly

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Published in the print edition of 13. July 2021.

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