WEBINAR “Cuba after the protests: scenarios for change” in the framework of the UAM Cuba Project
On November 18, the webinar "Cuba after the protests: scenarios for change" was held, an event organized by the UAM Cuba Project which was attended by a number of academics with recognized experience in the subject who discussed what happened in Cuba on November 15, 2021 and outlined possible scenarios for change that could occur in the country.
The first to speak was Francisco Sanchez, director of the Iberoamerican Institute of Salamanca, who addressed the political scenarios after the July 11, 2021 protests. The researcher began his speech by asking why the socialist system has held up despite the multiple external shocks that the island has experienced since the beginning of the Revolution. According to his point of view, one of the elements that has allowed keeping the ruling coalition cohesive, quite closed, has been the continuity in the leadership since 1959 onwards. The second element of cohesion has undoubtedly been the Cuban Communist Party, which controls all the spaces of access to political power. Notwithstanding the durability of the Cuban regime, Sanchez added, it is currently facing a series of challenges that threaten its continuity. In addition to the discontent of the population due to the difficulty to access goods, services and resources, during these last months Cuba has been suffering the economic and social impact of the pandemic.
Next to speak was Laura Tedesco, Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Saint Louis University in Madrid, who analysed the new Cuban opposition and the reasons for the growing citizen discontent. "Who are those who protest, who are those who take to the streets? I believe that in the July 11 protests many people came out who perhaps were not aware of what Decree 349 was or what the San Isidro Movement had been, because they came out in different places of the island and people who are tired of it came out. People are tired of the shortage of products, people are tired of the fact that in the freely convertible currency stores there are products and for the common people there are none".
Then it was the turn of Manuel Alcántara Sáez, professor at the University of Salamanca, who sought to situate the Cuban case in the Latin American context and determine to what extent Cuba continues to be an exception -or not- with respect to the rest of the region. Democracy in Latin America, Alcántara emphasized, is not going through its best moment.
The last two speakers were Pavel Vidal, Professor of Economics at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Cali, Colombia, and José Chofre Sirvent, Professor of Law at the University of Alicante.
The impact in macroeconomic terms of the pandemic in Cuba is double what happened in the region, remarked Vidal, since in terms of GDP fall Latin America fell by 6.8% and Cuban GDP fell by 10.9%. "Already there you can see that in macro terms there is a much greater impact on Cuba. Another element that complicates the situation is that the Cuban economy receives the pandemic in an already fragile situation, even the economic recession, according to official data, does not begin in 2020 but in the second half of 2019. So this also gives us information that the problems came before".
The last to present his opinion on Cuban current affairs was José Chofre Sirvent, professor of Law at the University of Alicante, who spoke about the right to protest in the Constitution. "The
Cuban Constitution is what it is and gives what it gives. Nothing else can be expected in a text of that nature... We are facing a Constitution of a semantic nature, it is a sheet of paper that has no legal validity whatsoever for many reasons. Basically because the very structure of power in Cuba prevents us from having a Constitution", concluded the academic.
To watch the conference in Spanish access the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QN5DMkh2l7E