On Sunday, thousands of Cubans chanted “Freedom!” “Enough!” and “We want liberty!” as they marched on Havana’s Malecon promenade. “People in Cuba are protesting 62 years of socialism, lies, tyranny & misery,” tweeted Sen. Marco Rubio, “not ‘expressing concern about rising COVID-19 cases/deaths.’ Why is it so hard for @Potus & the people in his administration to say that?”
Sen. Rubio was referencing a statement by Julie Chung, acting assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs. As Chung explained, “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.” The protesting Cubans, yearning to breathe free, might wonder what Chung is talking about.
“Cuba develops COVID-19 vaccines, takes socialist approach,” proclaimed the People’s World back in February. According to author W.T. Whitney, a former pediatrician, the technology used in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines “may be less safe than the one used in Cuban vaccines.” Cuba’s production of four vaccines, is “grounded in science, in a dedication to saving the lives of all Cubans,” and foreigners as well.
“Cuba is floating the idea of enticing tourists to its shores with the irresistible cocktail of sun, sand and a shot of Sovereign 2,” the vaccine now being tested. During the early stages of the pandemic, according to Augustin and Kitroeff, Natalie Kitroeff in the February 17 New York Times, “anyone diagnosed with the virus was immediately hospitalized and put on a cocktail of Cuban and generic drugs.” With everybody covered, and tourists flying in for a jab of Sovereign 2, the Cubans must be protesting something else.
As they understand, Cuba is a Communist dictatorship, one of the most repressive regimes in the world, and a bastion of white supremacy. Cuba’s 800,000 African slaves were more than twice the number in the United States. Cuba did not abolish slavery until 1886 and there was no equivalent of the historically black colleges in the USA. By some estimates, only one third of Cubans are whites, with two thirds composed of blacks and those of part African ancestry. That profile bears a stark contrast to Cuba’s ruling Communist Party.
Sado-Stalinist dictator Fidel Castro and brother Raul were one generation out of Europe. Current Communist boss Miguel Diaz-Canel is white as Frosty the Snowman, and on his watch the regime has added new political prisoners. “For decades, Cuba has stifled freedom of expression and assembly by locking up people for their beliefs and opposition to the government,” Amnesty International’s Erika Guevara-Ross explains.
As Nestor Almendros documented in Improper Conduct, Fidel Castro banished homosexuals to forced labor camps. As Orlando Jimenez-Leal showed in 8-A, Castro held a show-trial for General Arnaldo Ochoa and fellow officers, all executed. Fidel Castro called American jazz the “music of the enemy” and jailed trumpeter Arturo Sandoval for listening to the Voice of America. Saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera defected in 1981 but it was ten years before the Castro regime would allow his family to join him.
The Voice of America report on the Sunday protest did not use the word “Communist” or “dictatorship” in regard to the Cuban regime. “President” Diaz-Canel, who blamed the protest on a “Cuban-American mafia,” is not described as a dictator or Communist, a word that does not appear in the report. Julie Chung and national security advisor Jake Sullivan invoked “universal rights” but indulged no criticism of the Communist dictatorship. This now seems to be the pattern at the Voice of America (VOA).
Biden quickly forced out Michael Pack, head of U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), purged Trump ally Robert Reilly, and installed as VOA director Yolanda Lopez, a Spaniard and “on-air talent” with the Telemundo and Univision networks. Biden USAGM boss Kelu Chao installed as head of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting Sylvia Rosabal, a veteran of the Telemundo network who worked on media logistics for the 2020 Democratic National Convention Committee.
“I do not think she is the right person to lead the OCB,” said a statement from New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez, whose parents immigrated from Cuba. “I am concerned that she is of the view of accommodation with the Cuban regime rather than of challenging its human rights violations and denial of democratic freedoms to its people.”
That was the policy of the “composite character” David Garrow described in Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama. In return for better relations, he made no demand that Cuba release political prisoners, respect human rights, or hold free elections. When Castro died in November, 2016, the composite character hailed “the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation.”
During the 2020 primaries, Bernie Sanders said Fidel Castro “totally transformed the society.” No word about mass executions, the rationing of food, political prisoners, and more than half a century of Stalinist repression. For the Rip Van Winkle communist and his leftist “squad,” Cuba is the Buena Vista Socialist Club, the sort of arrangement they want to see in America.
The addled Joe Biden is only a figurehead, and the Sanders faction is now prevailing. That’s why it’s hard for anyone in the administration to say anything about Cuba’s 62 years of socialism, lies, tyranny and misery.