“Hard times are coming,” says Díaz-Canel… “Even more so?”, one might ask

“Hard times are coming,” says Díaz-Canel… “Even more so?”, one might ask

HAVANA, March 23. One would think that 18-hour blackouts, food shortages and almost non-existent salaries to pay for products that the State sells in a currency with which it does not pay, would be enough to talk about difficult times. But not. For Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, “hard times are still coming.”

Before the purists “bristle,” the complete sentence: “Tough times are coming, but we are going to get out of the tough times by working.”

This statement came in Songo La Maya, a municipality in Santiago de Cuba that the president visited this week just after the protests in that eastern province.

In Santiago, the blackouts have not stopped since 2021 and in part, the protests came because of them. But if those present were surprised by his prediction, for the president there would also be a surprise and not exactly a pleasant one: during his visit a young man asked him if he knew “that thanks to coming today they painted La Maya a week ago.”

Díaz-Canel tried to get away with it by responding: “If I knew that every time I went to a place they were going to paint it, I would be in all the places every day.”

Well, even in the very strange case that he didn’t know it, he already knows it, we will have to wait and see what he does now, whether to scold the officials for the deceptive and prepared visits or not to get off the wagon going from province to province. In case you were wondering, the state press muted.

The hard times… even more so?

Cuba has been going through a difficult situation for years that, far from being alleviated, has gone from bad to worse after the pandemic and the Government’s decisions.

The country’s highest authorities persist that the blockade is the main obstacle to development, but after the inconsistencies of the so-called guidelines and after the disaster that the monetary reorganization represented, the truth is that if Cuba floats it is for geophysical reasons, not because own merit.

Díaz-Canel indicated in 2018 that in 10 years the housing problem in Cuba could be solved, but the country is now further away than when said plan began.

There was also talk of projections for tourism but the sector remains inefficient and the number of foreign visitors remains below that of 2018. Of course, dozens of hotels have been built to keep them empty and consuming resources.

As far as food and production are concerned, Cuba produced less in 2024 than in 2019 and 2020 in almost all areas, according to data provided by Esteban Lazo, president of the National Assembly of People’s Power; and the basic basket depends almost entirely on imports.

Furthermore, the problem is that a month’s basic basket is not enough to feed a person even for a week and in the markets food is increasingly expensive.

How can we talk about “hard times” if those we are experiencing are unbearable for millions of Cubans? Easy: as the president himself spoke in April 2019, at the beginning of 2020, in mid-2023 and in many other moments when he became the headline of the press.

On all those occasions Díaz-Canel said that difficult times were coming and important and complex revolutionary tasks were needed to move forward and to perfect the economic and social model, and on all those occasions, it was just another speech, without real solutions.

I was not telling a lie, difficulties were coming, but what countries need are not visionaries but responses and actions with positive results.

In 2019, the president even said “This is not the time for regrets.” And here we are, in March 2024, without fuel, transportation, access to many medications, or essential products and supplies, without food… it is worth asking if people can begin to regret it or if we will still have to continue, like in the 90s, thin and haggard from hunger but silent, living on promises and remittances from the cruel empire.