The senior staff of the government and historical leaders of Cuba, including former President Raúl Castro, commemorated on Wednesday the 70th anniversary of the assault on the Moncada Barracks that started the revolutionary actions on the island, in an act marked by the recognition of the authorities of the economic difficulties that the Caribbean nation is going through.
The Cuban authorities attribute the crisis to the paralysis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the tightening of economic sanctions by Washington in recent years.
President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who traveled to the eastern city of Santiago for the commemoration, said that Cuba should not wait for the United States to lift its sanctions to achieve improvements in the problems that affect the population, such as inflation and the food and medicine shortages.
people wait for answers
“The people expect answers on issues that today weigh on everyone’s standard of living and daily life, which we can resolve without waiting for the blockade to be lifted,” said the president. “The battle against illegalities, crime and above all the increase in goods for use and consumption to combat inflation, are a difficult Moncada that we have the duty to assault here and throughout the country.”
Although the authorities recognize the deficiencies and have sought to mitigate the difficulties by increasing products in the basic basket –-the supply book that every Cuban has– or supporting vulnerable families, in most cases they tend to blame the strong US sanctions for all the ills that afflict the Caribbean nation, including its own inefficiencies such as the unproductiveness of a strongly centralized and paternalistic model.
Meanwhile, critics tend to emphasize the slowness of the government to carry out reforms that boost the productive sector and the need for endogenous growth, the authorities highlight prudence when making decisions so as not to increase social inequality or the impact in strategic areas such as health and education, which are state-owned on the island.
The assault on the Moncada Barracks is one of the most significant dates in the current history of the island and is reminiscent of July 26, 1953, when the Castro brothers -Fidel and Raúl- together with a handful of youngsters tried unsuccessfully to take the military fort. in protest against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.
The rebels finally came to power in 1959 and in an escalating spiral of confrontation with the United States, this nation imposed sanctions on the island, pressing for a change in the political model. Currently, the embargo includes actions against companies from third countries that intend to operate with Cuba, limitations on travel, persecution of ships with fuel and inclusion on a list of sponsors of terrorism that dramatically limits financial activity, among others.
“The blockade and hostility isolate the United States, but its effects can be lethal for an economy with limited resources,” Díaz-Canel said. “As long as the United States maintains its brutal and genocidal blockade against Cuba and tries to trample on national dignity, we will have a Moncada to assault.”
Dressed in olive green, in the front row were Raúl Castro—who is 92 years old today—and Ramiro Valdés, two of those young men who came out alive from the attack on Moncada. Together with them Prime Minister Manuel Marrero and Vice President Valdés Mesa.
Castro, who was president before Díaz-Canel, is rarely seen publicly, although last week he attended the plenary sessions of the National Assembly of People’s Power, the Parliament, in his role as deputy.