Recently, the Cuban people suddenly broke out in a nationwide demonstration for freedom and for food and medicine. This reminds me of a joke that President Reagan once told. The joke was that one day the Cuban dictator Castro was speaking and the people below were listening in silence when suddenly a vendor shouted: Pop the corn, pop the corn. Castro was angry and asked who was shouting, but no one dared to make a sound. Castro was pleased, he said, if anyone shouted that again, I will kick him to Miami. As a result, everyone in the room shouted: Pop the corn, pop the corn!
This joke by President Reagan illustrates the Cuban people’s disgust with the communist dictatorship in Cuba and their longing for a democratic and free United States. The Cuban people have risen up in protest many times throughout history, and this past Sunday, Cuba erupted in another nationwide demonstration. From Havana to Santiago, thousands of Cubans took to the streets Sunday in the largest anti-government protest in Cuba in decades. Carrying signs saying “Save Cuba” and calling for “freedom” and “down with the dictatorship,” a wave of people swarmed the streets. For the first time in their lives, many Cubans, especially young people, were out demonstrating.
Cuba is a dictatorship ruled by the Communist Party, which for decades has been an enemy of the United States and a partner of the Chinese Communist Party, and which has severely monitored and repressed the population. It was quite unusual for such a sudden change to occur, a large and widespread popular demonstration. The demonstrations were conducted in the same way as the Hong Kong public’s “water” demonstrations, with messages and live broadcasts through social media, without leaders or organizers, but with the same demands. There were 40 demonstrations last Sunday, scattered throughout the country.
The Cuban population has lived for years under the iron-fisted rule of the Cuban Communist Party. This time the people were able to overcome their fears and come out because the Cuban economy is so bad that the people can’t stand it. Cuba, whose economy is already very backward, relies mainly on tourism for its livelihood. But last year, their big brother, the Communist Party of China, spread the Communist virus to the world, causing most countries in the world to close their doors and ban tourism, thus destroying Cuba’s tourism industry. Cuba is now suffering from inflation, power outages, and a severe shortage of food and basic necessities. The people are not afraid of death, but they are afraid of death. The people have finally come out to fight.
Will this protest trigger another wave of Cuban refugees fleeing to the United States? The Cuban people, who have lived under a dictatorship for a long time, have had many waves of exodus. In the 1980s, thousands of Cubans occupied the Peruvian embassy in Havana, and Castro was forced to allow them to leave the country under international pressure, so that some 125,000 Cubans fled to Florida in overcrowded boats. In 1994, when thousands of Cubans took to the streets to protest the difficult living conditions, Castro again opened the valve of mass exodus to relieve the pressure. Some 33,000 Cubans immediately fled to Florida on homemade rafts at the time, which became known as the raft drifter crisis.
Will this time of massive anti-government protests in Cuba spawn yet another Cuban exodus to the sea of fury? Quite possibly. But most likely, the Cuban communist dictatorship will fall and the Cuban people will be truly free in their own country.