July 12, 2021

“Homeland & Life”

Cubans take to the streets against their government, risking their lives in mass protests for freedom for the first time in decades.
Why the fight now & why it matters:

Cuba: Quick Facts

  • Population: Approx. 11 million – roughly the size of New York City and Chicago together.
  • Recent History: U.S. & Cuba defeated Spain in the Spanish-American War in 1898 – an independent Cuban government established in 1902.
  • 1959: The Cuban Revolution. After a series of different governments (some elected and some not), communist leader Fidel Castro came to power and ruled until 2008 – then named his younger brother president. Raul Castro later chose current Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel as his successor.

A Refresher:

Cuba is one of 5 communist nations (incl. China, North Korea, Vietnam & Laos):

“…a system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single – often authoritarian – party holds power; state controls are imposed with the elimination of private ownership of property or capital while claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people (i.e., a classless society).”

Life in Cuba

  • Lack of access to basic needs: food, electricity, transportation etc.
  • “Government owns and controls all broadcast media” (CIA, The World Fact Book).
  • “… private citizens are prohibited from buying computers or accessing the Internet without special authorization” (The World Fact Book).
  • Majority of the population b/t 15-54 years old; while the nation has near full literacy, citizens can’t speak freely or chart their own destinies, due to communist control & limited options.
"… our country has no need to be suffering as it has for generations … We've also been victims for the simple fact of thinking different, of not being Communist …"

Cuban artist Alexander Delgado. His band’s song “Patria y Vida” (Homeland [or Fatherland] and Life) debuted in Feb. – a play on Cuba’s old revolutionary slogan, “patria o muerte” (homeland or death). The lyrics became a foreshadowing rallying cry. Economic hardship & shortages of necessities with the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic created conditions for a collision course w/ those in power.

The U.S. reinstated diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015, opening an embassy for the first time since the early 1960s while also maintaining a trade embargo. Some blame the U.S. for these economic sanctions that further strangle the island’s economy in an attempt to punish & hopefully incentivize a change in the communist regime; others say these sanctions need to continue to pressure a murderous regime that has been starving & imprisoning its own people while empowering the elite.

The CIA’s Factbook on Cuba

Background on song “Patria Y Vida”

CIA’s definition of communism

Spanish-American War

by Jenna Lee,