RALEIGH, N.C. — Cuba has seen wide scale protests and demonstrations at levels never before seen in the country’s 62 year long communist regime. The protests over the country’s food shortages and high prices during the pandemic have led to clashes with police and arrests. Marches and demonstrations have also taken place in the United States as people stand in solidarity with Cuba.
What You Need To Know
Many Cubans have been protesting and holding demonstrations on the island
They’re protesting long lines and shortages of food and medicines, as well as repeated electricity outages
Right now, experts say it’s unclear if the country’s government would accept aid
A rally for Cuba is being held on Saturday, July 17 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Casa Cubana in Raleigh
Experts say for those who want to help, there are different ways to do so that don’t involve diving into the country’s politics.
“At the end of the day, humanitarian action is one thing and getting involved in the internal politics of Cuba is something that the United States would be very well advised to refrain from,” Dr. Nicholas Robins, a teaching professor in the department of history at North Carolina State University, said. “Anything that can be perceived as interference or interjection in internal Cuba affairs is going to strengthen the existing government, and that’s a reality, whether people want to accept it.”
During a press conference on Thursday, President Joe Biden said, “Cuba is unfortunately a failed state and repressing their citizens. There are a number of things that we would consider doing to help the people of Cuba, but it would require a different circumstance or a guarantee that they would not be taken advantage of by the government. For example, the ability to send remittances back to Cuba. We would not do that now because the fact is it’s highly likely the regime would confiscate those remittances or big chunks of it.”
On Friday, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel responded to Biden’s comments saying, “If President Joe Biden really had humanitarian concerns for the Cuban people he would eliminate the 243 measures applied by President Donald Trump, including 50 imposed cruelly during the pandemic,” Diaz-Canel posted on his official Twitter account. He added, “The U.S. has failed in its attempts to destroy Cuba, although by trying to achieve it has wasted millions of dollars.”
The crisis in Cuba is also being felt in North Carolina as many Cuban American families are trying to do whatever they can to express the support for people on the island who are trying to create change.
The Raleigh restaurant Casa Cubana is hosting a rally for Cuba on Saturday, July 17. Melissa Edmiston, who is Cuban and lives in Orange County, plans to attend the rally. She believes it will help raise awareness about the situation in Cuba, something she describes as a humanitarian crisis.
“I think we have zero context for what Cuban people have experienced for the last 60 years because we don’t understand what it’s like to not have freedom. We can’t even wrap our brains around that,” Edmiston said. “If we were to get a birds eye view, a glimpse into what Cuba is like, we would think we were living in a different time like it wasn’t even possible compared to the life we have here.”
Edmiston often talks about life in Cuba, as well as the current unrest, with her stepfather who is a native of the island. She’s never been to Cuba, but she feels called to help the people there and also wants others to pay attention.
“It’s just not talked about. It’s been so long and we don’t get to see the day to day, the suffering,” Edmiston said.
When she’s surrounded by friends and family in her kitchen, making a Cuban dinner, she feels a sense of unity and that things may change. “I think if the Cuban people don’t give up that hope, it starts with them being willing to stand up and also to work towards the change that’s needed,” Edmiston said.
The rally on Saturday is happening from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Casa Cubana Restaurant located at 10901 Forest Pines Drive in Raleigh. It is hosted by the restaurant and the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of North Carolina.