Viernes, 19 de Abril de 2019
Última actualización: 01:50 CEST

A Brewing Storm: The authorities fear a popular uprising against energy cuts

Maleconazo, Havana, 1994.

In recent days two documents have appeared that reveal the internal discussions taking place within the Cuban Government's media outlets: a speech by Karina Marron, Assistant Editor of the official newspaper Granma at the Sixth Plenum of the Union of Journalists of Cuba (UPEC); and a protest letter from journalists at the Union of Young Communists (UJC) working for the Villa Clara newspaper Vanguardia.

In her speech Marrón announced that "a perfect storm is brewing" in the country, mentioned the danger of a social uprising like that of the Maleconazo, discussed the role of the press in dealing with a threat of this kind, and also referred to the flight of young journalists from Government news organizations. This last point was the focus of the workers at Vanguardia, who descried political censorship and called for greater professional freedom.

Both the speech and group letter address the position in which journalists on the island will find themselves if the coming storm hits. In the words of Karina Marrón, the source of the threat is the potential popular backlash against oil and energy cuts, and fear of not having a strong leader around to deal with it, like Fidel Castro during the Maleconazo.

It is not unreasonable to assume that these same fears are harbored by the repressive regime, which may be bracing itself for the storm. Meanwhile, for everyday Cubans, a summer is commencing under even more miserable conditions. The prospect of a new "Special Period During Peacetime" is looming, despite the fact that Cuba is more open towards the US and the world than it has been in half a century.

If it resorts to police repression and media censorship, the regime will only be dealing with the consequences of the crisis. The root causes of the storm will remain so long as, instead of profound reform, there are only calls for greater restrictions and cutbacks.