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The global coronavirus pandemic has taken the world by surprise and has caused uneven reactions in different countries. Some had more time to react as it arrived later to their territory, but in any case, little was known about the virus. Cuba seems to be doing relatively well in controlling the virus and the number of people infected, but not in the consequences. The absence of visitors joins an inefficient production, a precarious distribution system and a lack of incentives and resources to improve the production of something as basic as food. To make things worse, the latest US sanctions have even put the large influx of remittances in check. The country is much more dependent of the outside world than it would like to acknowledge. We should not forget that the virus is only the first of the obstacles; the looming economic crisis and the readjustment of the world’s order are also invited to the meeting.
Despite the island’s current difficulties, it is possible that in the long run this will result in greater openness, productive reorganization and the elimination of counterproductive elements such as the stockpile system. Perhaps reducing investment, in the more than sufficient hotel offer, and using the resources to improve production will be considered This will depend on whether the institutions are able to see the opportunities offered by times of crisis. What is clear is that it will take a long time before the flow of tourists returns to the previous levels, particularly since long before the pandemic the flow of visitors was already decreasing.
This bulletin focuses on people, on Cubans inside and outside the island. The experience of ordinary Cubans has depended a lot on their personal circumstances, although the whole population has suffered from new restrictions on mobility that try to stop contagion. Those who yesterday lived better than the majority due to their direct contact with tourists, have seen their income reduced to zero. Those who received remittances from abroad, have perhaps been the best able to cope with the crisis and the increase in prices. The hard-working guajiro has continued his life without major changes, as animals and the countryside are demanding companions.
However, in the end, some more and some less, they have all suffered from shortages, long queues, lack of hygiene items and blackouts, which have increased in recent months. For activists and independent journalists the experience is not a pleasant one. Decree-Law 370 is being used to fine those who report on issues that make the government uncomfortable. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is too busy with its own problems to worry now about what is happening on the island.
For people living abroad, the experience has been as varied as the countries and circumstances in which they find themselves. We have heard dramatic stories of people stranded in Russia, of those who have lost loved ones despite being in more fortunate countries or of those who have been left without work in a strangeland. On the other side, we have also heard others, albeit very minority ones, from some for whom the pandemic has brought some luck. In this bulletin, we bring a bittersweet mix of experiences. What is indisputable is that this pandemic has not left anyone indifferent, not even those who have tried to act as if the virus did not exist.
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