Cuba 2021

Dear Family,

I remember hearing my parents tell me as a kid to be grateful for what I have and to not be too anxious for something better because we don’t know what problems, stress and hardships “better” will bring. There is a huge movement and push in the U.S. for change. People want instant respect when they haven’t earned it. They want free university, without having to qualify for it. They want free medicare, free benefits, and free food and believe they shouldn’t have to pay for it. That is called SOCIALISM. Socialism is an ideology for those who have never worked a day in their lives, never had to earn a wage, yet they believe the State/Government should take care of them and provide for them without any sweat, equity or sacrifice.

Socialism is most attractive in countries where the people have nothing and are promised everything – prosperity, success and paradise, without costs. Venezuela went from being one of the richest countries in the world ( through massive oil reserves) to dire poverty, massive starvation and horrendous violence and suffering. A Venezuelan friend of ours left Canada to visit her aging parents in Venezuela and couldn’t get out. Her brother had a master’s degree, yet is collecting pop cans and whatever he can in hopes of having one meal a day. History is in the making right now. After 60 plus years of communism, the Cuban people are rising up by taking to the streets to protest against the government. Such a thing is unheard of! Their protest rally cry is, ‘FREEDOM! FREEDOM! FREEDOM!’

I first visited Cuba in 1993, when over 100,000 people attempted to raft across the 90 miles of ocean to reach America and be free from the communist dictatorship. More than 75,000 Cubans died in their attempt to gain Freedom. Then, as now, there was no gas, no food, no medicines, and no hope. Tourism helped turn that around. Once again hundreds of thousands of people are taking to the streets in protest against President Miguel Diaz Canel and his communist regime. The people find themselves without transportation, cooking oil, or gas, they wait in day-long queues to buy groceries; facing starvation and a massive health crisis with the Coronavirus. Thousands of people daily have contracted Covid and hospitals are collapsing; depleted of resources with over 200 necessary medicines unavailable. Russian tourists brought the new variants into Cuba. Over 100 Russian tourists are under quarantine in Varadero and other resorts. People getting surgeries and medical procedures have to bring their own medical supplies. Cuba is bankrupt and destitute with few resources to resurrect itself out of total poverty. The government has now outlawed the U.S. dollar and it requires people to purchase goods in Euros. Cuba blames the U.S. embargo as the cause of this crisis.

The people are at a breaking point. All major streets are full of people shouting, ‘Down with communism!” “Freedom!” As crowds increase, the internet is being shut down to limit what the outside world can see. President Diaz-Canel has called on police and military, to control the crowds and has urged communist loyalists to ‘attack!’ The president has pitted Cubans against Cubans, resulting in violence and bloodshed against the protesters. Protesters are arming themselves with rocks and sticks to protect themselves. Yesterday people began looting.

Prayers

Pray for the Cuban people. Pray for the family of Magdiel, one of our key leaders in Matanzas, whose wife died from medical complications this week. Cubans have reached a place of no hope for the future, with nothing to lose. Pray for God’s protection over the people. Pray that the government would not retaliate with violent force. Pray that our Cuban pastors would use this time of uncertainty to lead their family, friends and neighbors to Christ. Please pray that Aid organizations would send help and that the government would accept that help. Pray that the Peace of God would reign in Cuba!

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