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Little international support for pro-democracy protestors in Cuba

See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil

By Ricky Browne

The people in Cuba are still protesting for liberty and for the fatherland and life, but the world isn’t hearing much about it anymore, thanks to the Cuban government locking down the internet.

Meanwhile, support for the Cubans calling out for democracy after 62 years of Communist rule, seems to be coming only from Republicans in the United States, while Democrats seem to be taking a back seat, while hoping that the whole thing will blow over.

People shout slogans against the government during protests against and in support of the government in Havana, Cuba, July 11, 2021. Photo: Reuters/Alexandre Meneghin

President Joe Biden, the Democrat President of the United States, did come out and make a statement on the day after the protests started, but it was a fairly moderate one, which seemed to suggest that the protests in Cuba were more about bread and butter issues linked to the pandemic, than a fundamental need to overthrow the Communist dictatorship.

President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting on reducing gun violence, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Monday, July 12, 2021, in Washington. Photo: AP

“We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime,” Biden said in a statement Monday. “The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights.” Biden said.

Former Republican President Donald Trump – who is banned from most social media – also came out with a statement on July 12. His statement was more direct.

Former US President Donald Trump

“Big demonstrations are breaking out in Cuba and Miami in protest of the Communist Cuban Government (although today there are zero protesters in Cuba – you know what that means!) Don’t forget that Biden and the Democrats campaigned on reversing my very tough stance on Cuba. Remember when Obama attended baseball games with Castros while they imprisoned, beat and killed the Cuban people. I stand with the Cuban people 100% in their fight for freedom. The Government must let them speak and be free! Joe Biden MUST stand up to the Communist regime or – history will remember. The Cuban people deserve freedom and human rights! THEY ARE NOT AFRAID!”

But Biden has made no follow up statement since then, even as the Cuban government has apparently started to lockup protesters, and may even have killed a young female protester, plus a 36-year-old man. Instead he went to Philadelphia on Tuesday to talk about what he sees as a threat to democracy in Republican states which want to introduce controversial new voting rules. No mention was made about the protests for democracy in Cuba.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken Photo: Twitter/@SecBlinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also came out with a similarly non-confrontational statement on Cuba. On Monday he tweeted: “The United States stands with the Cuban people seeking freedom and respect for their human rights. Violence against peaceful protestors is abhorrent. We urge restraint and respect for the voice of the people.” He has made no tweet on the subject since then.

Nancy Pelosi on a trip to Cuba in 2015

Nancy Pelosi, Democrat Speaker of the House also addressed the situation, without speaking out against the communist regime. “The call for freedom and basic rights by the people of Cuba peacefully taking to the streets and marching is an act of great courage. I support the Cuban people in their pursuit of liberty and condemn any violence or targeting of those exercising their rights,” she tweeted.

But it’s not only Biden and Blinken who are hardly addressing the situation.

Former US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attended a state dinner with Mr Castro in Havana in 2016. Photo: AP

Former President Barack Obama has not tweeted about anything since July 10 – which means no tweet about Cuba, or the people demanding liberty.

His wife Michelle has tweeted since the protests began, including wishing a happy birthday to human rights advocate Malala Yousafzai and talking of her love for knitting. But nothing about Cuba.

No comment from Bill and Hillary Clinton Photo: USA Today

Nor was there anything from former US President Bill Clinton. Nor was there anything from his wife, former Secretary of State and former Democratic Presidential candidate.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – AOC — the young Democrat congress woman who is often outspoken and who is seen as being on the far left of the party, has said nothing about what is going on in Cuba – unless it’s a reference to the US blockade of the island.

Likewise from Bernie Saunders, who is also to the far left of the party and who ran to be the Democrat Presidential candidate for the second time last year. He has tweeted nothing about what is happening in Cuba.

Senator Marco Rubio addressed the Senate on Cuba

One person who has a lot to say about what is going on in Cuba is Florida Senator Marco Rubio who is of Cuban descent and who is a Republican. He is tweeting and retweeting several times a day about what is happening there, and calling on President Biden to act.

In one of his latest tweets, Rubio posted a video clip of a protestor speaking to the camera in his home and then having his door forced open by people who appear to be Cuban police and being hauled off.

In his tweet Rubio said: “The regime has shut off the internet, power & water in #Cuba They are barging into homes & killing in the streets On Monday I asked @potus to immediately mobilize an international response If he doesn’t ,we will see a bloodbath 90 miles off our shores.

Another person who is ringing alarm bells is Ted Cruz the Texan senator and a Republican who is also of Cuban descent.

Senator Ted Cruz

In a recent tweet Cruz said: “The American people stand squarely with the men and women of Cuba and their noble fight for liberty. Worryingly, the Biden admin has stopped short of strong support for those marching in the streets of Cuba.”

But not all senators in support of the protesters have a Cuban background. Senator Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee, a Reupblican, spoke to the senate about the protests – criticising media coverage that suggested they were driven by pandemic issues. “For 62 years the ruling Communist regime has bled the Cuban people dry. And now armed thugs have taken to the streets  to repress the opposition at any cost” she said.

Senator Marsha Blackburn

In a tweet she posted a video clip of her statement in the senate and said:

“The United States cannot stay silent about the uprising in Cuba. Will Joe Biden draw a line in the sand against communism or cower to the left?”

The current strategy of the Democrat party regarding Cuba is to act like an ostrich with its head buried in the sand. But this has not always been the policy of the party. It was John F Kennedy, the young Democrat President, who imposed the blockade on Cuba in the early 1960s. And it was John F Kennedy who was willing to face down the Soviet Union bringing the planet to the brink of a global nuclear war, over that countries decision to position nuclear arms in Cuba.

But there was a softening towards the Cuban government under Barack Obama – though he ended Clinton’s “Wet Foot, Dry Foot” immigration policy on his last day in office. Trump intensified sanctions when he got to office, and Biden, though running on a promise to revert to Obama’s softer approach, has so far maintained Trump’s harder line.

But other world leaders don’t have much to say either. Cuba is in America’s backyard, and many take the US lead – not interfering in a fight that is not theirs. The Monroe Doctrine becomes sacrosanct, it seems, at times like this. But Monroe Doctrine or not, it didn’t prevent all countries at the UN from voting (yet again) against the USA’s continued blockade of Cuba, except for the US itself and its close ally Israel.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has not tweeted anything about the uprising in Cuba, instead talking about the pandemic and about England’s football game with Italy, and about the racial abuse that came out against some of the black players.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness greets Cuban President Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel at the CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in St James Photo: Gleaner/Lionel Rookwood

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness who had quite a lot to say about the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise just last week, has so far had nothing to say about the protests in Cuba. Jamaica has a complex relationship with Cuba, with many in the country admiring Fidel Castro and the country itself benefitting from various forms of aid from Cuba.

Justin Trudeau Prime Minister of Canada, also had nothing to say about Cuba at all.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Photo: EFE

Brazillian President Bolsonaro was an exception. Bolsonaro came out in support of the protestors and accused Cuba of “massacring” its people’s freedoms.  

”I support the movements for freedom in Cuba” he said – before going off on a tangent saying he wanted to see if former leftist President Lula da Silva would do the same. It turned out he wouldn’t.

It would seem that the Cubans are in this fight for liberty on their own – at least at the moment. And the only voices that are coming out in support of them are from their families in Miami and from Republican politicians.

Who remembers Tiananmen Square? Photo: AP

If the Cuban government is successful in keeping the world’s eyes off of the current situation there by locking down the internet, they will be able to extinguish the current protests in a manner similar to what China achieved when it killed thousands of protesters in theTiananmen Square massacre back in 1989.

If Cubans cannot win their freedom by peaceful protest, they will seek liberty across the waters in Florida. Many of them may also seek other legal routes out as well, which could mean an increase in Cubans of Jamaican descent finding their way to neighbouring Jamaica – if only to have a safe launching pad for their eventual move to the promised land of Miami.

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