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Cuba lifts food stuff, medication customs restrictions after protests

People today shout slogans in opposition to the authorities in the course of a protest from and in assist of the govt, amidst the coronavirus condition (COVID-19) outbreak, in Havana, Cuba July 11, 2021. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini/File Picture

HAVANA, July 14 (Reuters) – Cuba announced on Wednesday it was quickly lifting restrictions on the amount of money of foodstuff and drugs tourists could convey into the state in an evident small concession to demands by protesters who took to the avenue final weekend.

Thousands joined a wave of nationwide protests in excess of shortages of basic goods, curbs on civil liberties and the government’s dealing with of a surge in COVID-19 infections on Sunday, in the most considerable unrest in a long time in the Communist-operate region.

The governing administration blamed the unrest on U.S.-financed “counter-revolutionaries” exploiting hardship induced by the decades-outdated U.S. trade embargo that Washington tightened in the midst of the pandemic, pushing the Cuban overall economy to the brink.

Many countries and the United Nations have known as on the government to regard citizens’ proper to categorical on their own. Some others like Mexico have said the greatest way to help the Cuban persons would be for the United States to relieve sanctions. examine more

In Cuba, a growing amount of significant-profile artists from salsa band Los Van Van to jazz pianist Chucho Valdes have criticized the authorities’ dealing with of the unrest, urging them to hear to protesters instead than combat them.

Intermittent web outages that activists say have been created to tamp any further unrest eased slightly on Wednesday while access to social media and messaging providers remained limited. go through additional

Officials have blamed a marketing campaign on social media underneath the hashtag #SOSCuba contacting for humanitarian aid for fueling the protests, saying it was introduced by U.S.-backed mercenaries trying to find to destabilize the Communist-operate country.

They as opposed the thrust to a U.S.-backed energy to deliver relief to Venezuela in 2019 that finished in a violent standoff on the Colombian border.

However, a single of the campaign’s requires was for the authorities to raise customs constraints on food stuff, drugs and hygiene items that are lacking in the state amid its worst financial crisis considering the fact that the drop of previous ally the Soviet Union.

And Key Minister Manuel Marrero explained on Wednesday the government would do exactly that from future Monday, lifting limits until the year-stop.

“It was a desire produced by numerous tourists and it was important to take this decision,” he reported on a roundtable on state television, alongside President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

It was not right away apparent how significantly variation the move would make presented that there are pretty number of flights at the moment into the Caribbean island country which is heading by its worst coronavirus outbreak due to the fact the begin of the pandemic.

Federal government critic Yoani Sanchez, who operates information web page 14ymedio, was quick to tweet that such concessions would not be plenty of to appease those people who experienced protested on Sunday.

“We do not want crumbs, we want freedom, and we want it nowwwww,” she wrote. “The streets have spoken: we are not fearful.”

Cubans say they have been frustrated by outages in mobile web and limited entry to social media and messaging platforms due to the fact Sunday.

“It really is been a bunch of times that noone has been able to connect,” stated Havana resident Andrea Lopez. “My partner is in Mexico and I have not been capable to communicate with him.”

Additional than 200 men and women were being detained for the duration of or pursuing the protests, in accordance to exiled legal rights team Cubalex, and only a handful have been released so significantly.

Diaz-Canel said there have been three sorts of protesters counter-revolutionaries, criminals and these with respectable frustrations. Point out-operate television confirmed pictures of a group looting a retail store and a different attacking an empty law enforcement car or truck.

Inside ministry officers said in a method televised later that some of the detained would be pursued for crimes like incitement to violence, contempt, robbery and destruction to community property, which carry prolonged prison sentences.

Reporting by Sarah Marsh and Nelson Acosta Enhancing by Leslie Adler & Simon Cameron-Moore

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