Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel called for a united struggle against the crippling US embargo on Sunday as he warned that opportunists were seeking to take advantage of the economic crisis.
Large protests have been held in the socialist island, where the economy has shrunk by 11 per cent due to Washington’s continued blockade as well as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Protesters have also demanded a speed-up of the Covid-19 vaccination rollout: Cuba registered nearly 7,000 new cases and 47 deaths on Sunday.
But Mr Diaz-Canel, who spoke to protesters in the municipality of San Antonio de los Banos, said that US-backed opposition figures are using the situation to destabilise the country.
“The protests involve many revolutionary citizens who want an explanation for the current situation in the country, but are also contaminated by groups of opportunists who take advantage of the current crisis to undermine order and generate chaos,” he said in a televised address.
The Cuban leader said he had listened to the people but warned that the main instigators of the protests wanted a return to the neoliberal economic model that has seen poorer countries denied access to the coronavirus vaccine.
He said that if the US truly wanted to help the Cuban people, it would lift the blockade, which has been in place since 1959 — at an estimated cost of $753 billion to Cuba’s economy.
“The revolution is true dialogue, and puts truth and ethics before obscenity and perversity. It does not negotiate its existence, it does not legitimise mercenaries, and it acts with security and firmness,” Mr Diaz-Canel said.
Last year the Morning Star reported how millions of dollars have been spent by the US in a bid to undermine and subvert democracy in Cuba as part of its long-term aim of overthrowing the socialist government.
Cuban opposition organisations have received more than $16.5 million (£12m) in grants from the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) since 2017, and 54 organisations were named as being in receipt of US funding, often channelled through the National Endowment for Democracy and USAid.
They included the Centre for a Free Cuba, the Cuban Human Rights Observatory and the Cuban Institute for the Freedom of Expression and the Press.