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Reactionary SOS Cuba movement falls on its face

Commentary by staff |
November 17, 2021
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The SOS Cuba movement, which called for pro-US protests in Cuba on November 15, has fallen on its face. Protests were reported in several Florida cities, but there were none in Cuba. Despite backing from the U.S. government and heavily sympathetic coverage from every major U.S. news outlet, the small group of U.S.-funded counterrevolutionaries in Cuba were not able to organize even a single, small protest. American peace activist Medea Benjamin reported that the main protest site designated by the counterrevolutionaries was occupied only by two clowns, entertaining passersby.

U.S. media placed the blame on supposed repression from the Cuban government, although the main U.S. agents were reported to be in their homes, and not in jails.

The call for protests on November 15 came after a protest that took place on July 11. This protest took place in several cities across Cuba and may have involved as many as 5000 protesters, on an island of 11 million people. Counterprotests in support of the Cuban government took place in the following days, mobilizing over a million people. But coverage in the U.S. media focused on the much smaller, anti-government protests. In some cases, major U.S. media outlets passed off pictures of pro-government protests, or protests in Florida, as anti-government protests in Cuba, simply because they looked much more impressive.

The July 11 protest was greatly aided by the very serious COVID situation in Cuba at the time. Cuba was initially able to sharply limit the spread of COVID on the island, but with the arrival of the Delta variant, community control measures proved inadequate. By July 11, despite numerous public health measures designed to halt the virus, it was spreading widely and seriously taxing the country's health care system. Some patients were reportedly being told to stay home with the virus if they were not seriously ill. While this is very normal in the U.S., up until then, Cubans with COVID had had access to hospitals or other facilities to look after them at all stages of their recovery.

However, researchers on the island have developed three separate effective vaccines against the disease. In spite of obstacles caused by the U.S. blockade of the island, including a shortage of syringes, the Cuban government has carried out a massive vaccination campaign. As of November 15, medical personnel had administered over 27 million doses of the vaccines, most of which require three doses, and 78.7% of Cuba's residents were fully vaccinated.

A major reason for the failure of the November 15 protests was that the vaccination campaign has largely defeated the COVID epidemic. On July 11, 47 people in Cuba died of COVID. On November 15, only one person succumbed to the disease. Furthermore, the low rates of disease have allowed the island to return to normality. Cuban students returned to school on November 10.

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