Special to WorldTribune.com
Cuba’s ongoing political and social upheaval has shocked many observers as a sudden and intense summer storm. Across the island in small towns and provincial centers protests erupted like a squall line until reaching the capital Havana.
Tropical storm “Liberdad” was lashing the Island of Cuba while its winds of freedom were blowing across the Florida Straits triggering major pro-democracy demonstrations in Miami, Tampa and elsewhere.
Not surprisingly the Biden Administration was caught off guard by the fast-moving events only to attempt political damage control later in the week replacing awkward silence with equivocal platitudes.
Curiously the uprising started while Cubans were watching Euro Cup soccer finals between England and Italy; at half time during the game, a news flash interrupted the broadcast with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel urgently calling on government supporters, “all the revolutionaries, all the communists” to protect the country against protesters. Brutal crackdowns followed.
It’s become popular these days to hear we must go back to the root causes on any crisis. Vice President Kamala Harris regularly repeats this refrain when speaking about the expanding crisis on the U.S. southern border. We must address root causes!
So, let’s do so with Cuba.
The roots of Cuba’s malaise rests in the Marxist system grafted upon the island since 1959 and forced upon the Cuban people. This remains a crisis of systemic socialist stupidity which has turned a once pretty prosperous place into an economic basket case.
The roots of the Cuban revolution were woven with envy, hate and false utopianism. But now without the Castro brothers in direct control, (Fidel is dead and brother Raul is 90) the cult of power and control by the classic Latin American Caudillo is replaced by a bland regime functionary.
The roots of economic mismanagement are nothing new to Cuba since the 1960’s; the longtime subsidies and support from the former Soviet Union are gone, the regime must now fend for itself. Slogans and Socialism don’t work. GDP fell by 11 percent last year.
Tourism, which generates quite a lot of cash from Canadian and European visitors, has dried up since the Corona pandemic. Moreover, the lack of vaccines has triggered a health crisis. Ironically many Cuban doctors serving abroad in “internationalist missions” can’t help at home.
The roots of endemic shortages are not that Cubans don’t work hard but for what? People’s labor and toil are wasted for handfuls of worthless Pesos while necessities can be purchased in special shops but using the American dollar! Cuban Americans, on the other hand, are not only hard working but have brought enterprise and entrepreneurialism to new heights.
The roots of condemning the U.S. trade embargo on the island, yet the embargo doesn’t affect Cuba’s commerce with Europe, Canada, China nor Latin America. The reason for the embargo, a policy of fourteen American presidents, deals with the regime’s seizing and expropriation of American owned property after the Cuban revolution in 1959. In other words, the embargo doesn’t isolate Cuba from the world but from direct U.S. commerce.
The roots of Cuba’s censorship and surveillance of its population remains a bedrock of the communist regime; what has changed has been information seeping in via social media that cannot be totally controlled. Herein lies a genuine threat to the system.
The roots of Cuba’s human, political and religious rights violations have never been condemned by the UN’s Human Rights Council!
The roots of political rationalization are nothing new for leftist American politicians. For example, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) long a Pavlovian apologist for the Havana regime, has couched his words carefully; “All people have the right to protest and to live in a democratic society.” Fine, but the root cause remains Cuba’s authoritarian regime.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, son of Cuban refugees, stated succinctly, “The first lesson we need to take away from it is that Marxism, socialism, doesn’t work.” He added, “We don’t just condemn this tyranny; we condemn this communism, this Marxist, this socialist tyranny. Call it for what it is.”
He cited a powerful new protest song called, ‘Patria y Vida.’ “Now, the slogan of the Cuban regime is ‘Patria o Muerte,’ meaning ‘fatherland or death.’ This song played on that, ‘Patria y Vida,’ which means fatherland and life, instead of fatherland or death.”
Florida Republican Rep. Maria Salazar, herself the daughter of Cuban exiles, stated, “Socialism is socialism… It is a sickness that crushes the soul. Cuba is the best example of this.”
Liberdad! The winds of freedom are blowing throughout Cuba!
John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism the Diplomacy of Separated Nations: Germany, Korea, China (2014). [See pre-2011 Archives]