The last several weeks have seen protests and violent unrest unfold in Cuba, Haiti, and South Africa due to a worsening COVID-19 situation, presidential assassination, and imprisonment of former leader respectively. The below updates provide context and an outlook for each of the three situations.CUBA
- Event: On 11 July, thousands of Cubans took to the streets across the country in the largest anti-government protest since 1994 when widespread shortages afflicted the country following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The protesters are demanding better access to food, medicines, COVID-19 vaccines and are calling for the end of the island's authoritarian regime. Allegations of forced disappearances are beginning to emerge.
- Context: The immediate trigger for the unrest is the worsening COVID-19 situation with Cuba reporting over 50 new cases per 100,000 people on average in the last seven days. This is higher than any other country in Latin America. Deaths continue to rise amid a shortage of needles and other medical supplies to combat the pandemic. The decline of hard currency inflows due to U.S. sanctions and lack of tourism has put a serious strain on the country’s imports. The government has used the internet and social media blackouts and has called on regime loyalists to counter-protest in an attempt to crackdown on the anti-government movement. Over 100 people have been arrested so far.
- Outlook: While the government has demonstrated some restraint, a sustained anti-government movement could prompt a harsh crackdown. But questions remain as to what extent the military will take action against its own people. Further economic devastation or harsher crackdown measures could prompt an exodus, compounding the current U.S. border crisis.
- Event: In the early hours of 07 July, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated at his private residence outside Port au Prince by a group of 28 foreign mercenaries (26 Colombians and two Haitian Americans). Three assailants were killed and 20 were captured in the ensuing gun battle, and five suspects remain at large, according to Haitian police. Following the incident, authorities declared marshal law and closed the international airport. On 09 July, interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph requested that the U.S. provide military assistance to uphold order. While President Biden has yet to agree to sending troops, the U.S. is sending DHS and FBI officials to help investigate the incident.
- Context: Haiti continues to be plagued by corruption, surging gang violence and growing food scarcity. Haiti is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere with almost 60 percent of its inhabitants living beneath the poverty line. The deeply unpopular, former president Moïse dissolved parliament in late 2019, used the state apparatus to imprison political rivals and his presidential term was supposed to have expired in February 2021.
- Outlook: With no functioning government, supreme court, or clear line of succession, and a worsening humanitarian situation, the assassination of Moïse has left a political and security vacuum in Haiti. The country is now on the verge of becoming a failed state.
- Event: On 12 July, South African National Defence Force (SANDF) deployed forces to Johannesburg, Durban and other areas of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces to contain the mass unrest that was spurred by the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma. The riots resulted in six deaths, 200 arrests, and numerous looting incidents in commercial areas and banks.
- Context: Zuma was arrested on 07 July and sentenced to 18 months in prison for failing to appear before the Zonda Commission, an anti-corruption probe investing corruption under Zuma's 2009-2018 tenure. Zuma and his supporters still hold major power within South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) party, who have ruled the country since 1994. They see the Zonda Commission as a politically motivated attempt by President Cyril Ramaphosa and his allies to consolidate their power within the ANC (at the expense of Zuma’s constituency).
- Outlook: Zuma’s future court dates will likely prompt further violent unrest and in turn, more looting and opportunistic crime.
Standing by to Support
Global Guardian is closely monitoring the situation for developments. We are standing by to support across Cuba, Haiti, and South Africa, from executive protection and custom intelligence threat assessments to medical evacuation and support. Click below to request security assistance.