‘We are not afraid! We are not afraid!”
“Cuba isn’t yours,” Cuban protestors chanted in front of Communist Party buildings on the island, according to videos posted online that went viral Sunday.
Make no mistake — thousands of Cubans took to the streets on Sunday in at least 14 cities, in a police-controlled country that surveils and jails dissidents — to protest communism, not just the country’s abysmal COVID-19 response.
Cubans must stand in hours-long lines to buy simple necessities such as bread. They experience rolling blackouts as the country’s electric grid is overrun, suffering for hours in the scorching summer months, where it can be unbearable to live without a fan or air conditioner.
Government-run stores sell overpriced items in currencies the Cuban people don’t possess. Hospitals lack beds, stretchers, medication, and in some cases, running water. Scabies — a skin disease that can be easily treated with an antibiotic — has infested the island because drugs are not readily available.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuba has been outsourcing its medical professionals and supplies to other countries as a way for the Communist regime to pocket hard currency, which is in short supply. The State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report gives Cuba a failing grade and writes of a “government policy or government pattern to profit from labor export programs with strong indications of forced labor, particularly its foreign medical missions program.”
The report continues, saying Cuba “capitalized on the pandemic by increasing the number and size of medical missions and refused to improve the program’s transparency or address labor violations and trafficking crimes despite persistent allegations from observers, former participants, and foreign governments,” of its abuses.
The conditions in Cuba are so bad its people are fleeing the island in record numbers. The U.S. Coast Guard, since the start of October, has seized more than 512 Cubans at sea, compared with 49 for the entire previous year.
So far, the Biden administration’s response to the historic protests has been muted — socialism, after all, appears to be the end goal for an influential segment of the Democratic party. It wasn’t too long ago when Sen. Bernie Sanders praised Fidel Castro, the dictator, who “educated [Cuban] kids, gave their kids health care, totally transformed the society.”
He continued: “We’re very very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba, but you know, it’s unfair to say everything is bad. You know? When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?”
Mr. Biden himself hasn’t articulated a Cuban policy. However, while he served as Vice President under Barack Obama, he worked to normalize relations with the communist regime.
There’s little doubt, Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel will use the uprising to negotiate with Washington the easing of U.S. sanctions and travel. He will use his population’s pain to enrich himself.
The Biden administration has a choice: Either stand with the Cuban people, who are waving American flags and shouting “Freedom,” or side with a communist regime that has brought prolonged misery to the island.