The Hungry Island

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Rare demonstrations broke out across Cuba this week over rising power outages and food shortages, as the Caribbean nation continues to grapple with economic malaise, the Financial Times reported Monday.

On Sunday, a small group of protesters took to the streets of Santiago, the island nation’s second-largest city, calling for “power and food.” Protests also took place in other provinces of the Communist country, where demonstrations are rare and usually suppressed.

President Miguel Díaz-Canel blamed the unrest on the “mediocre politicians and social media terrorists” in the neighboring United States, where many Cuban exiles live.

Cuba has been grappling with an energy and economic crisis for years that has worsened following the Covid-19 pandemic. The US has maintained a decades-long trade embargo against Havana that was first imposed not long after the revolution led by late communist leader Fidel Castro in the late 1950s.

Since then, relations between the two countries have remained tense, prompting Havana to rely on its alliances with Russia and Venezuela – both under US sanctions – for fuel and food.

Last month, the government raised petrol and diesel prices by more than 400 percent in an effort to stabilize the economy. Also in February, it requested food aid from the United Nations World Food Programme, a rare admission by the Caribbean country that it was unable to produce enough food for its population.

Although protests seldom occur in the communist country, mass demonstrations swept the island in 2021 over the floundering economy – the largest since Castro’s revolution.

Authorities launched a crackdown against demonstrators that resulted in hundreds of arrests and more than 700 criminal charges. At least 400,000 Cubans have sought refuge in the US since 2021.

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