Russia, US Should Help Cuba, Protest-Hit Nation Needs Foreign Investment - Ex-UK Diplomat

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 15th July, 2021) Russia and the United States should both take a chance to call on the Cuban authorities to be more transparent with its people, Paul Webster Hare, a former British ambassador in Havana told Sputnik, adding that protest-hit Cuba desperately needs investments from both Russia and the US, as well as other countries.

Since Sunday, Cuba has witnessed its largest protests since 1994, fueled by anger over shortages of basic goods. Thousands of people demanded free elections and the resolution of social issues. According to media, protests and gatherings took place in eight Cuban cities, including Havana. In response, government and Communist Party supporters held their own marches.

"Both Russia and America should take the opportunity to urge the Cuban government to be more transparent with its citizens and not hold back the economy by favoring military run and state-owned entities. That is the likely road to improving food supplies and improvements in a struggling economy," Hare, who is currently a Senior Lecturer in international relations at the Frederick S. Pardee school of Global Studies at Boston University, said.

Neither Moscow, nor Washington is interested in Cuba descending into chaos, the former diplomat said.

"Cuba also badly needs more foreign investment from major countries [like] Russia, China and the United States. That is a decision for the Cuban government," he added.

The consequences of the protests should be a warning to the Havana administration that in an era of social media it needs to explain its policies better and accept that there should be a popular debate on how to deal with food shortages, high prices and poor vaccination rates, according to Hare.

"The main issue here is that Cuba should recognize they need new ideas and a loosening of many controls on private sector activities that are holding a country back," he said.

Meanwhile, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has recently said that those who participate in massive protests that have engulfed Cuba are paid by the US to provoke unrest. The US has stressed that it would be a "grievous mistake" on the part of Havana to say that Washington was involved in the protests, adding that there was every indication that the protests in Cuba over the weekend were spontaneous and not induced by other countries.

Russia, in its turn, expressed confidence in prompt normalization of the situation in the Caribbean country and warned against interference in Cuba's domestic affairs.

This year, Cuba marked the 62nd anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution over the regime of Fulgencio Batista, the notorious US-backed military dictator who served until 1959. After the revolution, Washington, which did not welcome the new government led by communist revolutionary Fidel Castro, has since hit the small island nation with numerous sanctions. The restrictions severely crippled the country's tourism, energy, transportation, telecommunications, healthcare, education and food security systems.

Things began looking up once Barack Obama came to the White House. His administration oversaw a period the media called the "Cuban thaw" during which sanctions started being lifted and bilateral relations began normalizing. However, the Trump administration reversed the policy.