News & Politics

An Update on the Push for Democracy in Cuba

AP Photo/Ismael Francisco

 

It’s been more than two months since thousands of Cubans poured into the streets to protest the nation’s Communist government. The grassroots revolt dominated the news cycle for weeks. But with constantly-evolving tragedies from Afghanistan to the Southern border and Chicago under President Joe Biden’s watch, it’s hard to keep track of every issue.

The Cuban demonstrations were prompted by short-term shortages of food, COVID-19 vaccines, and long-term dissatisfaction with the hardships created by the nation’s bureaucratic economic controls. Protesters clashed with Cuban police, and the left-wing government cracked down on the island’s already limited internet access to quell any uprisings organized over social media.

Homeland Secretary Security Alejandro Mayorkas, who still refuses to admit there’s a crisis on the Mexico-United States border, is not keen on allowing Cubans asylum in the United States. The cruelty is remarkable, considering Mayorkas was born in Havana just before the Cuban Revolution, and his family was lucky enough to flee to America.

The Heritage Foundation had a 30-minute interview Monday with John Suarez, executive director at the Center for a Free Cuba. He discussed the endurance of the pro-democracy movement in Cuba and how Americans can play a role in pushing the island nation toward freedom.

Suarez said that while protests still take place, the Communist regime passed a law in August called Decree 35, “basically threatening people who videotape, who share things on social media with fines and prison, and also encouraging their cadres to physically assault them.”

“So, if they see somebody taking a video of a protest or some sort of atrocity being committed by the government, if you’re caught doing it, you can be fined or jailed,” Suarez continued. “If a regime agent is in the vicinity or someone sympathetic to the regime, you can be physically assaulted and have the equipment you’re using taken away from you. So, it’s going to be more difficult to get those images out.”

Suarez said he remains optimistic, because “there’s a profound desire by Cubans for change.”

“What we need is international solidarity, not just in the United States, but from the democratic world more broadly,” he explained. “The consequences of not backing democracy in Cuba has been dire. We see it the way the Cubans have been able to extend their influence into places like Venezuela, Nicaragua, and the humanitarian disasters that are occurring there. And you have a presence of Cuban troops, Cuban intelligence officers, they are torturing Venezuelans and Nicaraguans today.”

When it comes to the global pandemic, Suarez also believes Cuba is following Communist China by underreporting cases and fatalities.

“The regime has been underreporting COVID deaths and trying to spin its propaganda as a medical power,” he stated. “But the reality is, we know anecdotally, a lot of people are dying. A lot of prisoners have contracted COVID, and people who never should have been in prison in the first place.”

 

In the end, a refocus on Cuba is important for the West. Ignore the lies from Bernie Sanders types, realize Cuba maintains extensive trade relationships with countries around the world, and any so-called embargo does not restrict food or medicine.

There is a reason why brave Cubans in the streets chanted ‘Down with the dictatorship!’ and not “Down with the embargo!”

What’s going on in the Caribbean is not about trade or health care; it is the result of ruthless socialist despots who violently repress people 90 miles from our shores.