In Ozan Varol’s Stealth Authoritarianism, one of the main conditions of authoritarianism is “rampant” corruption as well as “abuse of state resources” . Regime change is deemed possible through “a pacted transition, revolution, coup, or foreign intervention” . When a people’s attempt to revolutionize or widely protest is stamped out and a government has long ago given up any semblance of a fair transition of power, what remains? How else can a country free itself from the strangling force that is an autocratic government? Foreign intervention is the final and strongest option left in order for Cuba to become a truly free state.
On July 11, 2021, a week-long series of mass protests erupted around the island nation of Cuba. These protests were observed at a magnitude that had not been seen since the Cuban Revolution in the 1950s. They were brought to be by a culmination of food shortages, power outages, and depleted medical supplies during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the desperate hunger and hopelessness of watching loved ones pass away due to a lack of proper healthcare, the people of Cuba were finally angry and courageous enough to publicly denounce the autocratic government in the form of various protests. In addition, sympathy protests launched by members of the Cuban diaspora developed all over the world. They occurred in various distinct locations such as Washington D.C., Vatican City, Stockholm, and many more. Unfortunately, the Cuban government quickly initiated a widespread crackdown on all protestors, physically beating those protesting and forcing youth to join the military units in their beating of protestors. Now, nearly 7 months later, there are mass trials occurring around Cuba, with protesters facing up to 30 years in prison for peacefully protesting abysmal living conditions.
The prosecution named the main charges for protestors as sedition, even though the protests contained no violent elements whatsoever until militant police officers made an appearance. The severity of the punishments comes to no surprise as much of the Communist government’s power has stemmed from claiming to the world that the Cuban people are fully supportive of the administration and its choices. The government takes several steps to ensure that its facade is maintained. The Human Rights Watch report for Cuba in 2021 listed numerous methods of oppression employed by the regime. Some of these methods include mass media manipulation, political imprisonment, an absence of labor rights, travel restrictions, and many more. All of these processes are commonly used by autocratic governments in order to control the narrative in their countries and ensure that a minimal amount of unapproved information goes in or out of the country. Of course, this past summer’s protests—which only reached the rest of the world through posts on social media and private messages to family members outside of the island—demonstrated that the Cuban people are truly fed up with the government and its oppressions.
Unfortunately, we find ourselves at the current day where the Castro-founded administration is still very much in power, with no change in sight. Meanwhile, hundreds of Cuban citizens are facing several decades in prison. Due to the development of these events, it is clear that the Cuban government will not be taking any steps to emerge from the autocratic cave it has continued to hide in for the past 60 years. Given the circumstances, it can be determined that the only way in which Cuba could truly have a free and fair democracy is if there is an international humanitarian intervention, perhaps on behalf of the entire free world rather than the United States. In the past, the American government has consistently been accused of imperialist acts and attempts to destabilize Latin America for its own benefit. If the intervention were staged by various democratic states and on a humanitarian basis, it would be much more likely for a chance to truly be seen and for progress to be made. A large-scale intervention would be a demonstration to all other autocratic regimes that human rights violations will not be tolerated, and that there are severe repercussions for doing so.
The Cuban people cannot do this on their own, neither can the burden be placed on a single state to be the savior of a people. Cuba’s oppressive regime is quite content with its current state of funneling funds to its tourist sites and to the deep pockets of the inner elite, while buildings in La Havana are quite literally collapsing on members of the public. They have no intentions of taking any steps toward equality and justice. The Cuban people made a valiant attempt to rightfully protest decades of oppression and human rights violations and it culminated in them being severely punished. This begs the necessity for a global joint effort because Cuba deserves the chance to become a prosperous and joyful country once again. Ozan O. Varol 100 Iowa L. Rev. 1673 (2015). “Stealth Authoritarianism.” Iowa Law Review, 2015. https://ilr.law.uiowa.edu/print/volume-100-issue-4/stealth-authoritarianism/.  Ibid.