Thousands Of Cubans Demand Freedom In Protests Against Island’s Communist Regime

Thousands Of Cubans Demand Freedom In Protests Against Island’s Communist Regime

Thousands of Cubans banded together over the weekend to protest the island’s communist regime and the dire, impoverished conditions that come with living under a dictatorship.

In Havana, the nation’s capital, protesters gathered to chant for “Liberty” and “Freedom” while demanding the current President Miguel Díaz-Canel resign.

Other protesters waved an American flag as they marched down the capital city’s streets.

As pent-up rage about the authoritarian regime spread, Cuban officials rushed to block the internet, dismiss anti-government content as “disinformation,” and crack down on dissidents which could further taint the country’s image.

“The order to combat has been given,” the Cuban president said in a nationally televised address. Calling on counter-protesters who support his regime to step in, he added, “Revolutionaries need to be on the streets.”

“Cuba is often held up as a poster child of a successful socialist society and it isn’t,” Jim Carafano, vice president for the Heritage Foundation’s Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, told The Federalist. “It’s completely masked an unmitigated failure that’s literally propped up by external partners and an incredibly oppressive regime. This is just a reminder that [while] people think that these kinds of societies lead to better outcomes and more equity, it’s just not true.”

The corporate press, big tech, and the Biden administration also quickly misconstrued the Cubans’ cries when they chose to finally cover the outrage. The New York Times faced backlash on Sunday for tweeting that protesters were “shouting ‘freedom’ and other anti-government slogans.”

Twitter was quick to slap a slanted explainer on the trending videos, pictures, and reports which Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (who is Cuban-American) said “ignores this is really about how socialism is a disaster and always leads to tyranny, despair, and suffering.”

“People are helping to spread awareness on the impact of COVID-19 in Cuba as cases hit an all-time high in the country,” Twitter’s trending topics page said, accompanied by the hashtag #SOSCuba.

“Surreal but not surprising,” the senator replied.

Julie Chung, Acting Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, also misrepresented the protests by claiming that they were largely focused on COVID-19.

“Peaceful protests are growing in #Cuba as the Cuban people exercise their right to peaceful assembly to express concern about rising COVID cases/deaths & medicine shortages,” Chung tweeted. “We commend the numerous efforts of the Cuban people mobilizing donations to help neighbors in need.”

After facing backlash, Chung quickly followed up with a new statement condemning the regime’s “calls to combat.”

She also retweeted President Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan after he said the U.S. “would strongly condemn any violence or targeting of peaceful protestors who are exercising their universal rights.”

While COVID-19 did play a role in the outrage, some contend the country’s medical shortcomings were the “straw that broke the camel’s back” atop a host of deeper concerns.

“Cubans have been dealing with food shortages for decades and tolerating different levels of discomfort, but when they see their healthcare system collapsing under the weight of COVID while the rest of the world gets them under control, it becomes the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” Republican media strategist and former Trump campaign official Giancarlo Sopo told The Federalist. “There’s a widespread sentiment on the island that change is needed.”

While President Biden eventually issued a statement supporting the “Cuban people,” Carafano says the administration missed an opportunity to more strongly assert the nation’s position on communism.

“Clearly the administration has failed coming out of the box,” he said. “It’s a complete lack of leadership. I think it’s the most humiliating statement from a country that should be leading the free world. We should have a clear, unambiguous statement from the United States and supporting the Cuban people.”

 

 

Jordan Davidson is a staff writer at The Federalist. She graduated from Baylor University where she majored in political science and minored in journalism.
Photo at: Pexels/Photo)
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