Cuba’s President Admits Mistakes As Country Concedes to Protesters’ Demands

After largely blaming the United States and social media for the unrest in his country, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel has admitted that his government has made mistakes when Havana announced a limited easing of food and drug restrictions.

In a concession to protests that started over the weekend in anger over food and medicine shortages, price increases and the government’s handling of COVID-19, Havana said it would temporarily reduce curbs on food and medicine that travelers could bring in, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, in an unexpected moment of self-reflection, Díaz-Canel accepted that his government had a degree of responsibility for unrestand said in a television address: “We need to gain experience from the disruption.”

“We also need to make a critical analysis of our problems in order to act and overcome and avoid their recurrence,” he added on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

The government had blamed the unrest on US-funded “counter-revolutionaries”, which it accused of exploiting adversity exacerbated by the US trade embargo, which was tightened during the previous Donald Trump administration.

One of the demands of the social media campaign promoted under the hashtag #SOSCuba was that the government lifted tariff restrictions on food, medicine and hygiene products.

The Cuban government, which said the social media campaign was part of a US-backed plot to destabilize the island, gave up, with Prime Minister Manuel Marrero announcing a easing of restrictions that began on Monday and lasted until the end of the year.

“It was a demand of many travelers and it was necessary to make this decision,” Marrero said on state television as he sat next to Díaz-Canel, although there are very few flights entering the island, which means that it was uncertain what kind of immediate effect the measure would have.

Cuban protests against Miami
People protest to show support for Cubans demonstrating against their government in Miami on July 14, 2021. President Miguel Díaz-Canel has admitted that his government made mistakes.

Government critic Yoani Sánchez tweeted to her over 753,000 supporters that the movement was not enough and wrote: “We do not want crumbs, we want freedom.”

“No blood was spilled on the Cuban streets to import a few extra suitcases,” she added.

The government has been accused of trying to break up disagreements through internet interruptions and rights groups has expressed alarm with the number of arrested persons not accounting.

There had been concern about the fate of Dina Stars, a Cuban YouTube personality who has been critical of her government when she interrupted a TV interview because the security services wanted to detain her. On Thursday, however, she tweeted that she had returned home.

The situation is putting pressure on Joe Biden administration, which faces call from Black Lives Matter (BLM) to lift the decades-long US trade embargo.

Meanwhile prominent Republicans, such as Cuban-American Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), has called on the Biden administration to condemn the Cuban regime.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted that “American socialists do not want to acknowledge the evil, suffering and oppression that Cuban socialists impose on the people.”

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.

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