Cubans rally in defence of the revolution (credit: Prensa Latina)

On Sunday 11 July, anti-government protests took place simultaneously in dozens of locations throughout Cuba. In several places, including San Antonio on the outskirts of Havana, and in Matanzas, where Covid-19 cases have surged, protests turned violent, with windows smashed, shops looted, cars overturned, rocks thrown and people assaulted. Many of those involved were venting frustration at their daily difficulties, resulting from shortages of basic goods and the restrictions imposed in the context of Covid-19. However, behind these seemingly spontaneous outbursts lies a lucratively funded, long-run US strategy to foster opposition to the Cuban government. HELEN YAFFE reports from Havana.

Cuban women on a medical brigade in Kenya

First published on

Right to live without a blockade: the impact of US sanctions on the Cuban population and women’s lives,’ Oxfam, May 2021

The US blockade against Cuba, according to the most recent annual report submitted to the United Nations General Assembly, cost Cuba the equivalent of $5,570.3m between April 2019 and March 2020, up $1.2bn from the previous year. The Cuban government estimates that over six decades, the US blockade has cost its economy a total of $144,413.4bn. On 23 June, as it has done every year since 1992, 184 members of the UN General Assembly voted for a resolution calling for an end to the blockade; only the US and Israel voted against. During the Trump presidency, the US imposed 243 new sanctions, actions and measures on Cuba, 55 of these during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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In response to fresh attacks on the Cuban revolution, activists from Rock Around the Blockade and the Revolutionary Communist Group mobilised across the country in defence of socialist Cuba. The demonstrations coincided with the 26th of July, the anniversary of the founding of the revolutionary movement that overthrew the Batista dictatorship in Cuba. This was also the latest in an ongoing series of actions taking place every month, where activists from all around the world have been organising actions to call for an end to the US economic blockade of Cuba. Get in touch with us if you would like to get involved with the planning of future actions! Here are some of the actions:

The recent editorial: ‘The Guardian view on Cuba’s protests’ presents a false image of the situation in Cuba. It also includes distorted arguments which seem to be an attempt to absolve the US blockade of its genocidal nature. The section which covers the protests themselves fails to mention the counter demonstrations in several cities which came out in support of the government and against the US blockade. These demonstrations appear to have been equal to or even larger in number than the initial protests, so your assured statement “biggest protests in decades” is a bold estimate at best.

Mass rally and march in Camaguey, #Cuba in defence of the Cuban Revolution.

Your article 'Cuban president claims protests part of US plot to 'fracture' Communist party' on 12 July explicitly focuses on anti-government protest whilst failing to cover the much larger, pro-socialist demonstrations that have swept the country – much less quote anyone who participated in them. Some of the video footage you feature is of pro-socialist protests – but nowhere is it presented as such. Non-Spanish speakers will not notice the chants of ‘We are Fidel’ and ‘The people united will never be defeated’. This is hardly dissimilar from the sleight of hand taking place on social media sites: photos of clashes in Buenos Aires and Cairo labelled as Havana for example. Renowned Spanish analyst Julian Macias Tovar has reported on social media accounts participating in the ‘SOSCuba’ online campaign retweeting five times a second and that several of the leading accounts are operating from Spain and the United States – he has also shown that over 1,500 accounts that participated in the ‘Twitter storm’ were created over the weekend of 10-11th July. These are the now familiar hallmarks of today’s fringe movements, their influence outsized through the work of bots and algorithms. Surely your readers ought to be told this?

RCG and RATB rally in front of Cuban embassy, London 12 July 2021 (photo: FRFI)

'The Revolution is defended by the revolutionaries! And among the revolutionaries the communists are going to the front. Never as an elite, but as a conscious and committed force... The streets belong to the revolutionaries!' Cuban President and First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel.

Cubans rally in support of the revolution, 11 July in San Antonio de los Baños (photo: Periódico Las Tunas Cuba)

Main article image: Cubans rally in support of the revolution, 11 July in San Antonio de los Baños (photo: Periódico Las Tunas Cuba)

On Sunday 11 July, protests in Cuba involving hundreds of people occurred in the town of San Antonio de los Baños and the city of Palma Soriano, with similar and smaller demonstrations following in other areas including Havana. As acknowledged by the country’s revolutionary leadership, these protests would never have occurred in Cuba in normal times, but discontent over shortages of basic goods and services, deliberately exacerbated by targeted US sanctions, has been building in some areas of the island. These protests have been attended by counter-revolutionary forces, opportunistically taking to the streets waving US flags, looting and violently attacking the police. Miami-based social media accounts, run by exiled Cuban anti-communists, have been offering material rewards to Cubans to incite violence. The shortages, the counter-revolutionary Cubans and the Miami exile propaganda have all been fomented by the US and other imperialist powers over decades, intensifying during the Covid-19 pandemic, as documented in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! in our consistent coverage of Cuba’s popular revolutionary process.

For the past four months caravanas of actions against the US blockade of Cuba have been persistently taking to the streets across the world. Activists from Rock around the Blockade and the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) in Britain joined the international weekend of actions on 19-20 June. This date was chosen because of the vote against the US blockade at the United Nations on 23 June, where delegates from all UN member states vote to condemn the genocidal economic blockade. When these votes have been held in the past, a vast majority of countries vote in favour of the motion, with only the US, Israel and a sporadic handful of other states saying that the blockade is in any way justified. Next month the caravanas will coincide with the anniversary of the storming of the Moncada barracks during the Cuban revolution. 26 July is an important day in the Cuban revolutionary calendar and there will be national mobilisations by Rock Around the Blockade supporters to ensure that it is adequately celebrated. Get in touch if you'd like to participate in the activities next month! Here are some photos and videos from around the country:


The caravanas of actions against the US blockade of Cuba have been persistently taking to the streets for three months now. Activists from Rock around the Blockade and the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) in Britain joined the international weekend of actions on 29-30 May. They demanded an end to the United States blockade imposed on Cuba and the rest of the world. As with previous months, these calls to action were answered by activists from all across Europe and the world. This month the demonstrations coincided with a national movement in support of Palestine, so some groups chose to link the two issues and call for broad international solidarity. Here are some photos and videos from around the country.