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The Cuban Crackdown: Foreign Affairs

The Cuban Crackdown: Foreign Affairs

In early July, Cuba was hit by a devastating outbreak of COVID-19, fueled by the spread of the virus’s Delta variant, that pushed its state-run health-care system to the breaking point. After a year of relatively low infection rates, the Caribbean nation was suddenly reporting the highest caseloads per capita in Latin America, with the province of Matanzas accounting for nearly half the reported cases in the country. Hashtags pleading for emergency relief, such as #SOSMatanzas and #SOSCuba, spread on Twitter. Thousands of Cubans called on the government to open a humanitarian corridor that would speed the arrival of international aid and ease shortages of food and medicine. But Cuba’s leaders declined to do so, blaming the crisis on the U.S. embargo on the island and offering the weak party line that Cuban doctors “grow in adversity.” This proved to be the final straw: fed up with the state’s perceived indifference to their plight, Cubans took to the streets chanting for “freedom” in an unprecedented uprising that made headlines around the world.

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Laura Tedesco is Associate Professor of Political Science at the Madrid Campus of Saint Louis University.

Rut Diamint is Principal Researcher at the National Council of Scientific and Technological Research and a Professor at Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, in Buenos Aires.


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