Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Cuba and Haiti in Turmoil (July 13, 2021)


President Biden issued a statement from the White House yesterday: "We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom." The Washington Post and the New York Times publish political assessments and say that Biden "sid[ed] so starkly with the dissidents, Biden seized on what some Democrats see as an unexpected opening for their party to chart a course correction on Cuba and rebrand its strategy after years of being seen by some voters — particularly in Florida — as too accommodating of the authoritarian regime and perhaps too soft on communism in general." 

There are plenty of explainers on why this is happening now in Cuba and most include hunger (or the economy), COVID-19 and/or cell phones. Examples in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the BBC.  The AP suggests it's all about the internet. The Washington Post suggests that the protests were provoked by the pandemic and "fueled by social media." The island’s social media explosion [happened in 2019] with the arrival of 3G mobile phone service. ... 'Telephones are now the guns of the Cuban people,” said Abraham Jiménez Enoa, a Cuban dissident journalist.' "  There has been a noticeable uptick in police patrols, reports the Associated Press.

  • Mexico's AMLO says it's all about the embargo, according to Reuters; they hope to send renewed humanitarian aid, says a separate Reuters piece.  

  • Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago calls for BLM support for the island. 

  • The hip-hop song Patria y Vida, by Maykel Osorbo and El Funky, is a twist on the communist slogan "patria o muerte", says National Public Radio.


The New York Times profiles Christian Emmanuel Sanon, the doctor and pastor who is emerging as a central figure in the assassination and who was arrested yesterday morning. "how Dr. Sanon might have managed to set such an ambitious plot in motion was not easily explainable on Monday." The Wall Street Journal highlights the two others vying for the presidential position. 

  • A column in the New York Times tries to assess the geopolitical situation:"Refusing Haiti’s request would make Washington partially responsible for the calamity that American forces likely could otherwise hold off. But agreeing would leave it responsible for managing another open-ended crisis of a sort that has long proven resistant to outside resolution." Converselythe NYTimes' Bret Stephens jumps in as well and writes, "The best the United States can do is to do as little as possible — and, if possible, a bit less."

  • Malick Ghachem, a history professor at MIT writes "Haiti needs something closer to a complete political and constitutional reboot combined with a new social contract in which international institutions support rather than ignore the country’s least well-off citizens, according to an America's Quarterly essay. Ghachem's book, The Old Regime and the Haitian Revolution, was published in 2012.
  • You also have to understand the role Miami plays, says The Guardian.
  • Reports that some of the assassins may have been DEA informants may complicate things, according to Reuters.



  • The Biden administration eases a Trump-era Venezuela sanction on liquefied petroleum gas, according to the Associated Press.
  • Freddy Guevara, an ally of Juan Guaidó, was arrested on charges of terrorism and treason, according to Reuters.


  • The U.S. is administering pressure on the Ortega government in Nicaragua by "revoking the travel visas of 100 legislators, judges and prosecutors," according to the Associated Press. American airlines are unlikely to return flying into Managua anytime soon, according to Havana Times.


  • The Mexican government said that 68 human rights and environmental activists and 43 journalists have been murderedhave been killed during the current administrationprimarily by the drug cartels, according to the Associated Press. Almost 1,500 activists and journalists are under government protection.


  • Protestors decrying Guatemala's mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic and delays in shipments of Russia’s Sputnik vaccine, may have cause the country's president to crack down on dissidents, according to the Associated Press. Guatemala has counted over 300,000 cases and almost 10,000 deaths.
  • Colombia has one of the longest school lockdowns and a teachers’ union is trying to keep it that way, according to The Economist.


  • Brazil's federal police are set to open up an investigation on Bolsonaro and corruption around vaccine purchases, based on congressional hearings, according to Reuters.

Indigenous Issues

  • The BBC explores the challenges of connecting the latest technology into indigenous hands to save the Amazon rainforest.

It's Eduardo Romero here filling in for Jordana: let me know if I missed or misinterpreted something or perhaps you have a different take. 

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