Cuban protesters use pots and pans amid ‘worst economic crisis in 30 years’

Michael J. Bustamante, a University of Miami professor, said discontent has grown since the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated an already fragile economy.

MIAMI – In the Cuban town of Los Palacios, outside of Pinar del Rio, residents used the sound of pots and pans to protest a power outage on Thursday night.

There were also internet outages, according to NetBlocks, a watchdog organization that monitors internet freedom. In Cuba, it is illegal to use

Michael J. Bustamante, a University of Miami professor, said discontent has grown since the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated an already fragile economy.

“Cuba is in the midst of its worst economic crisis in 30 years,” Bustamante said. “That combined with an aging infrastructure, especially in the electricity sector, is creating what we are seeing.”

Despite the government’s restrictions, the president of the Los Palacios local assembly shared a video addressing the power outages in response to the protest.

“I suppose folks feel like they have nothing to lose when things are as dire as they seem to be,” Bustamante said.

Andy Gomez, a retired professor of Cuban studies at the University of Miami, said Cuba is very close to becoming a failed state. He said the military’s backing of Raul Castro is what’s holding it together.

“Cuba is ready for what I call a social explosion, but it’s a social explosion outward,” Gomez said.

Cubans’ desperation is becoming tangible in South Florida as more migrants turn up in makeshift boats after risking their lives in the Florida Straits. Federal officials reported there is also a surge in Cubans who are trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.


About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.