Cuba is “on the verge of total collapse” as the country has been hit by blackouts with residents taking to the streets calling for “food and power”.

The crisis has seen the Cuban government approach the United Nations for aid to address its food shortage. As the Caribbean island goes through its harshest economic crisis in three decades, the communist regime is resorting to hitherto unseen cries for help to other countries.

The country has been hit by US restrictions, a weak tourism industry, and a decaying domestic product which has left the proud independent nation on it’s knees. In an article for Bloomberg, author Juan Pablo Spinetto writes that the situation has brought about a rare display of social unrest.

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He adds that last time it happened, in July 2021, the regime contained it with crushing force.

Spinetto writes that the economic situation is a huge challenge for the Communist Party of Cuba that has controlled the nation’s life since Fidel Castro’s revolution in 1959.

He says that despite the archaic embargo posted on the nation by the US during the Cold War, it is not responsible for the food shortage, since Cuba has been able to import more than $7 billion worth of agricultural produce since 2001.

Spinetto adds that the embargo is also not responsible for the departure of 5% of Cuba’s population (more than half a million residents) between 2021 and 2023. He says: “These are young, educated Cubans escaping hunger, economic mismanagement and political repression.”

Spinetto writes that the crisis can’t be fixed “without fundamentally changing the country’s centralized, state-controlled model where bureaucrats rule over every aspect of public life.”

He adds: “That political change, which must come from within Cuban society, threatens the survival of the regime and the future of the revolution, an unacceptable risk for the well-fed old guard that still runs the country. That’s the essence of the conflict right now.

“This situation also represents a significant test for the region — and an opportunity too. Yet the most foreseeable scenario now is one of uncertainty and chaos.”

He adds that in a bid to close an 18.5% of GDP budget hole and skyrocketing inflation, deeply unpopular austerity measures are being implemented by the government including a 500% gasoline hike.

Adding that Cuba is seeking new external help (such as the UN food request) and working to resurrect its tourism industry.

He said with the US presidential race well underway Cuba is low on its priorities, but some help could come from John Kavulich, president of the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council.

Kavulich, Spinetto says, is “pushing for the US embassy to approve a list of small Cuban companies with which Americans could do business, fostering trade relationships within existing regulations and bans even as the current political deep freeze with the US continues.”

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