In-Brief: Summer 2021


Graphic by Gabriel Medina

Rebekah Barrera, Staff Writer

The Delta Variant: Are School Grounds COVID Grounds?

   With the prevalence of the Delta variant, South Florida teens are found conflicted about 2021 school reopenings. This new variant, although first identified in December 2020, just recently became the country’s predominant strain. As kids go back to school in person, the highly contagious strain has caused the positivity rate for teens in Florida to be 23%, more than five times what it was on June 1 of this year. While mask mandates are in place and social distancing is encouraged, after-school sports, extracurricular activities, and crowded cafeterias put teens in close contact with each other. The last two weeks of school reopenings in South Florida have put the age group of teens aged 12-19 at the top when it comes to test positivity rates (The Sun-Sentinel). Seeing and hearing firsthand that their classmates have to quarantine, many students worry about the severity of the Delta variant. Experts want kids to know of their ongoing efforts to learn more about Delta, and that getting fully vaccinated is still the best protection against it (Yale Medicine).

SOS Cuba: A Revolt From One Community to Another

   From Cuba to Florida, protests have been taking place against worsening living conditions. Cuba, which has been under a Communist dictatorship since 1959, has long seen the results of extreme shortages in food, medicine, and money. Since COVID hit, the country’s various problems only stacked up even higher. So on July 11, 2021, thousands of people took to the streets of Cuba for the first time in over six decades to protest the government that rules over them (National Review). With this continuous mass protest came lots of danger, and an estimated 700 of these people were being held in prison two weeks after (The New York Times). In acts of solidarity, marches also happened in Florida, where there exists the highest Cuban-American population. Protestors held signs that said “SOS CUBA” and sang songs that are synonymous with the Cuban struggle. The most popular one is a hip-hop song called Patria y Vida — homeland or life — whose name takes a spin on the regime’s long-established slogan “patria o muerte” — homeland or death. It strongly points a finger at the Cuban government for suppressing the country’s quality of life (NPR News). One group of demonstrators, who waved Cuban flags and chanted for the freedom of Cuba, even shut down a highway in Miami over the summer (AP News).

Haiti’s Shaken Up World

   On August 14, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit southwest Haiti, leaving the country in ruins and the people with major aftershocks. About 53,000 houses were destroyed, entire towns crumbled, and hospitals were overwhelmed with the immense amount of resulting injured people (The Wall Street Journal). Since then, many Haitians have been forced to survive in poor living conditions: homeless, jobless, hungry, and without proper access to their needs. On August 22, the death toll was 2,207, with 344 people still missing in the rubble that littered the country’s grounds (USA Today). This earthquake, which occurred amidst the pandemic, came just over a month after the assassination of Haiti’s president, so the country faces a multitude of COVID cases and political instability along the road of recovery at the same time. 

Taliban Takeover

   As the Taliban seize control of Afghanistan, the country is erupting in chaos, with many fearful for their safety and freedom. On Sunday, August 15, Taliban fighters invaded the Afghan capital of Kabul after taking over all of the other major cities in a matter of days (AP News). The resulting collapse of the government left the Afghan people unsupported and unprotected. Afraid of history repeating itself, many people are attempting to flee the country and take refuge in countries like the U.S., Germany, Pakistan, and more (Hindustan Times). There have even been desperate crowds of people at Kabul’s airport trying to force their way onto American planes to escape this humanitarian crisis, or at least have their babies taken somewhere safe (NPR News). Although the U.S. has begun evacuating Afghan citizens, there is still great concern over what Afghanistan’s future will look like under the Taliban, as well as numerous unanswered questions about what’s to happen next.