Cuba is in an economic, social and food crisis: this is what is happening

For the first time in its history Cuba is addressed to United Nations to ask for support from the point of view offood supply, given the serious and prolonged lack of basic necessities including bread and milk. Medicine and fuel are also missing. The island, below embargo economic and commercial by the United States from the 1962is currently experiencing one of the most difficult crises of recent years, both from the point of view economic That socialwith the outbreak also of protests widespread.

The current situation in Cuba

Cuba lives a embargothe so-called I blockimposed by the US president Kennedy In the 1962. For decades, the embargo has meant that the island is experiencing a very problematic economic and commercial situation, which has worsened in particular with the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19: not even during this period was the embargo suspended, worsening the economic and social crisis.

Currently, however, especially in recent months and even more so in recent weeks, Cuba is also experiencing a serious crisis food crisis: there is a lack of basic necessities such as bread and milk, so much so that the government of Miguel Díaz Canel for the first time in history he addressed the UN and, in particular, the World Food Programme. In fact, last March 4th, above all, food supplies were requested milk powder for children between 6 months and 7 years, among those most affected by food shortages. The request was accepted with the shipment of 144 tons of milk powder.

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Archipov, the Soviet commander who avoided nuclear escalation during the Cuban crisis

The situation is also serious from the point of view healthcare (no medicines) ed energetic: the shortage of fuel and electricity cause numerous blackouts and led the government to the decision to reduce public lighting by 74%. The Cuban government was also forced to cancel the future official parade on May 1st on the occasion of Labor Day, one of the most important on the island.


The causes of the Cuban crisis

The serious crisis that Cuba is experiencing derives primarily from the continuation of I block: a financial, economic and commercial embargo which prevents the country from having bilateral relations not only with the United States but also with many countries that have relations with the USA and which could in turn be sanctioned if they traded with the island.

To date, they have been 31 motions moved by the United Nations, the last one in 2023, to ask for the end of the embargo on Cuba. The votes in favor of the end of the embargo in the last vote were 187, with 1 abstention and 2 votes against, Israel and the United States , who rejected the motion with the power of veto.

With the administration Obama in 2014 there were some signs of détente with the government of Raúl Castro which had suggested a thaw in diplomatic relations between the two states. But with the government of Trump first and then Biden diplomatic relations they were interrupted again, exacerbating an already very difficult situation.

Fidel Castro at the United Nations General Assembly, 1960. Credits: Warren K. Leffler, via Wikimedia Commons

In addition to the embargo, in fact, the Cuban economy has also been hit hard by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and by the economic reform implemented by the Cuban government in 2021, to try to align prices with the international market. This has meant that government-subsidized services such as electricity or fuel have suffered significantly price increase which, together with the already existing conditions, has plunged the country into one economic and food crisis even more serious.

Furthermore, in recent years, the Cuban peso it depreciated sharply and basic necessities such as bread, rice and milk began to run out. A further element that has aggravated the situation in Cuba is certainly the strong emigration which, combined withaging populationhas worsened the social crisis, giving rise to numerous protests, which began in particular after the Covid19 pandemic, in 2021.

Protests against the Cuban government in Naples, Florida. Credits: P,TO via Wikimedia Commons

Protests against the food and energy crisis

In the last few weeks a Cuba numerous protests occurred, especially in Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Havana and Cienfuegos. According to the Spanish NGO Prisoners Defenders, 32 people were arrested and then released after a few hours. The demonstrators were protesting against the Cuban government over the lack of food and electricity, with blackout prolonged on the island which can even reach up to 12 hours.

Already a July 2021following the Covid19 pandemic, numerous protests occurred in the main Cuban cities, which led to the arrest of dozens of people: the Cuban government has often accused the United States to unleash and foment protests and to interfere in Cuba's internal affairs, in particular through the numerous communities of Cubans who emigrated to Florida.

The US government he has always denied this thesis: currently the former president of the United States Donald Trump expressed his closeness to the Cuban people, announcing very harsh policies towards the island's government (held responsible for the situation) in the event that he were to be elected President of the United States again next November.

Meanwhile, the situation within the island continues to be tense: the government of Díaz Canel recognized popular discontent and announced to do everything possible to resolve the situation, even if the end of'embargo it may be the only real solution for Cuba's future.

BBC US Department of State United Nations News Reuters