Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!
Expand chart
Data: Proyecto Inventario; Map: Will Chase/Axios

Sara Naranjo, 88, took to Cuba's streets this past week because she is "done with being hungry, unemployed, without water, without power." Naranjo is one of thousands of Cubans to take part in what activists said were the largest anti-government protests on the island in decades.

What's happening: People like Naranjo, who remembers Cuba before the revolution, joined thousands of younger Cubans, who have only known Communism, in the massive street protests despite their fear of the government’s harsh response.

Why it matters: Sunday’s seemingly spontaneous mobilizations across the island were something unseen in 60 years of castrista rule.

  • Anti-government protests even erupted in the southeast province of Santiago de Cuba, Fidel Castro’s stronghold during the revolution and where he is buried.
  • “So much hunger ate away at our fear,” one demonstrator, Wendy Guerra, told the independent Cuban news site 14yMedio.

The big picture: The pandemic deepened Cubans’ frustrations with lack of food and resources that had simmered for decades.

  • Tourism, mostly from Canada and Europe, dried up along with the hard currency it provided.
  • Mismanagement of the island’s state-run economy, already under a U.S. embargo since 1962, sent Cuba’s GDP crashing by 11% last year, its worst showing since the former Soviet Union stopped subsidies in the early 1990s.
  • Chronic power cuts and shortages of food and medicines have been more acute, while the nearly quarter-million people who have had coronavirus have had to seek treatment from a healthcare system on the verge of collapse.
  • Vaccinations have been scarce since the government decided not to participate in the COVAX sharing program for developing nations and to develop its own shots.

Between the lines: Pockets of overt dissidence had been growing even before Raúl Castro, Fidel Castro’s younger brother and his deputy during the revolution, stepped down in June as head of the Communist Party.

  • Movimiento San Isidro, a young coalition of artists, journalists and academics formed in 2019, urged more Cubans to make their dissatisfaction public.
  • Musicians and San Isidro members, Maykel Osorbo and El Funky, were joined by Yotuel, Gente De Zona, and Descemer Bueno to release the song “Patria y Vida” (Homeland and Life), which became an anthem for this week’s protesters.
    • Its lyrics demand “no more lies” and “no more doctrine,” telling those who cling to the revolution that their time is past.

The growing availability of the internet, though also controlled by a state-run company, has allowed like-minded Cubans to share their frustrations more easily, like they did on Sunday.

  • The protests erupted days after #SOSCuba began to trend on social media, with Cubans demanding humanitarian assistance to address the island’s many crises.

Where it stands: At least one person — 36-year-old Diubis Laurencio Tejeda, who was from an especially impoverished part of Havana — has died during the protests, according to local reports.

  • The government shutdown the internet and phone lines after the first protest on Sunday.
  • Reliable information regarding arrests is hard to come by with estimates ranging between 200 and 5,000 people.

In Washington, the Biden administration has said the protests are “remarkable,” but has not yet indicated whether further policy changes were coming.

  • The U.S. has warned Cubans who might attempt to emigrate across the Florida Straits that they would be turned back.

In Havana, meanwhile, President Miguel Díaz-Canel has pointed to the U.S. embargo as the cause of his country’s economic woes and accused U.S. authorities of financing and promoting “non-conventional warfare.”

  • On Wednesday, the Cuban government announced that tariffs on the private import of food, medicine and personal care products would be lifted at least until December.

By the numbers: 3.5% of all Latinos in the U.S. are of Cuban ancestry or Cuban immigrants, the fifth largest Latino or Hispanic cultural group.

  • Most live in Florida. The state’s weight in the Electoral College means Cuban Americans have outsized political influence.

Go deeper

Updated Jul 14, 2021 - World

Cuba's government confirms death of man at protest

Riot police walk the streets after a demonstration against the government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana on Monday. Photo: Yamil Lage/AFP via Getty Images

Cuban officials on Tuesday confirmed the death of a 36-year-old man during anti-government demonstrations that were triggered by food and medicine shortages.

Driving the news: The government said Diubis Laurencio Tejeda died in Havana on Monday amid clashes between police and protesters during which an undisclosed number of people were arrested, per AP.

Jul 14, 2021 - Podcasts

Cuban government cracks down on protesters

Cuban activists are saying more than 100 people are missing or have been arrested during recent protests on the island over economic conditions. The protests are the largest in decades.

  • Plus, the growing debate over COVID booster shots.
  • And, Texas lawmakers flee the state to block GOP-led voting restrictions.

Guests: Telemundo News' Marina Franco, Axios' Caitlin Owens and Stef Kight.

Credits: Axios Today is produced in partnership with Pushkin Industries. The team includes Niala Boodhoo, Sara Kehaulani Goo, Dan Bobkoff, Alexandra Botti, Justin Kaufmann, Nuria Marquez Martinez, Sabeena Singhani, Amy Pedulla, Naomi Shavin, and Alex Sugiura. Music is composed by Evan Viola. You can reach us at podcasts@axios.com. You can text questions, comments and story ideas to Niala as a text or voice memo to 202-918-4893.

Go deeper:

DHS chief tells Cubans, Haitians: "If you take to the sea, you will not come" to U.S.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Photo: Johan Ordonez/AFP via Getty Images

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas urged Cuban and Haitian people in a press conference at the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters on Tuesday not to travel to the United States amid recent turmoil in both countries.

Why it matters: Research shows political instability and violence can drive migration to the U.S.-Mexico border.