July 25, 2021

Anti-government protests as Covid-19 cases multiply

Thousands of Cubans defied the authorities on Sunday July 11. Images posted online show protesters, mostly young people, in the streets of San Antonio de los Baños, a town of 50,000 people about 30 kilometers from the capital, chanting “Motherland and life! “, the title of a controversial song, but also of “Down with the dictatorship! “, and of “We are not afraid! “.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel went there to meet protesters.

Alarming figures of the epidemic

The demonstration took place on the day that Cuba recorded a new daily record of contaminations and deaths from the coronavirus, with 6,923 cases recorded for a total of 238,491 cases and 47 deaths in twenty-four hours for a total of 1,537 deaths. “These are alarming figures, which are increasing every day”, commented Sunday the chief epidemiologist of the ministry of health, Francisco Duran, during his usual press conference on television.

Cuba authorized Friday the emergency use of its vaccine against Covid-19 Abdala, the first in Latin America, a beacon of hope for this country and the region which still cannot contain the pandemic. The most advanced candidate among five vaccines developed in Cuba, Abdala is 92.28% effective against the risk of catching Covid with symptoms, according to state pharmaceutical group BioCubaFarma.

Since the start of the pandemic caused by the coronavirus in March 2020, Cubans have had to wait in long queues to stock up on food and have faced a shortage of medicines, which has generated strong social unrest.

Calls for help on social networks

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel traveled to San Antonio de los Baños, to meet with protesters.

Faced with the explosion in the number of cases, the authorities urgently sent, on Wednesday, doctors and medical equipment to the tourist region of Matanzas, where hospitals are overwhelmed. Cuban television showed footage of the one in the city of Cardenas, whose corridors are filled with stretchers, while a local company has been commissioned to make new beds.

Under the hashtags #SOSCuba “Or #SOSMatanzas” (SOSMassacres), calls for help are multiplying on social networks, as are appeals to the government to facilitate the sending of donations from abroad.

On Saturday, a group of opponents called for the establishment of a “Humanitarian corridor”, an initiative that the government has ruled out. “The concepts of humanitarian corridor and humanitarian aid are associated with conflict zones and do not apply to Cuba”, said Saturday the director of consular affairs and in charge of Cubans living abroad at the Cuban Chancellery, Ernesto Soberon.

The authorities also denounced ” a campaign “ who’s looking “To present an image of total chaos in the country which does not correspond to the current situation”.

The government should nevertheless allow an email address on Monday to speed up donations from abroad, Soberon said.

The World with AFP