By now we have seen the footage of the people of Cuba protesting in the streets. The media narrative is that they are protesting over electricity blackouts, vaccines, and other shortages that are a feature of every Socialist regime on the planet. But if you actually listen, the protesters are yelling “Libertad!” or “liberty.” Further, interviews with the protesters go a lot deeper than just complaints about daily electricity shortages.
The People of Cuba Want Freedom From Socialism
“We are here because of the repression against the people. They’re starving us to death. Havana is collapsing we have no house, we have nothing, but they have money to build hotels and they have us starving.”
The response of President Biden’s administration was pretty tepid and really directed towards the government of Cuba rather than the Cuban people themselves,
“We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime. The Cuban people are bravely asserting fundamental and universal rights. Those rights, including the right of peaceful protest and the right to freely determine their own future, must be respected. The United States calls on the Cuban regime to hear their people and serve their needs at this vital moment rather than enriching themselves.”
This soft-soap response ought to sound familiar. What we are seeing in Cuba is an uprising against a brutal communist dictatorship. We also saw this in 2009 in Iran during the Green Movement Revolution. Similarly, then, the U.S., under President Obama, issued a weak response that failed to support those who tried to throw off the yoke of Islamist extremism in Tehran.
President Obama said during a White House press conference at the time,
“My hope and expectation is that we’re going to continue to see the people of Iran have the courage to be able to express their yearning for greater freedoms and a more representative government, understanding that America cannot ultimately dictate what happens inside of Iran any more than it could inside of Egypt.”
President Biden was then vice president. He likely had some voice in the U.S. response as President Obama had often said that Biden was a part of every important decision he made while president. Unfortunately, the reason President Obama responded so weakly to the Green Revolution in Iran is also the reason President Biden is responding weakly to the aspirations of the Cuban people now.
As in Iran So in Cuba
In 2009, the Green Revolution was inconvenient to President Obama’s plans to re-engage with the Mullahs in Tehran. Wall Street Journal reporter Jay Solomon’s book The Iran Wars, relates that a people’s revolution in Iran was not in Obama’s interests.
In reaching out to Iran, President Obama brushed under the carpet Iran’s human rights abuses. He wrote letters to Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei assuring that the U.S. would not try to overthrow the mullahs. President Obama went as far as repeatedly offering his respect for the regime as the legitimate rulers in statements made during Iran’s Nowruz holiday.
President Obama was so determined to make good on his promises of friendship and comity with Iran he even ordered the CIA to sever any ties they might have with the Green Revolution leaders. We totally hung them out to dry.
President Biden’s similar response signaling that no action by the U.S. will be taken in support of the Cuban People, comes from that same place policy-wise.
On Cuba, Biden Follows the Path of Obama
In 2015, President Obama visited Cuba in a bid to “re-open” the country as if communist regimes can truly be called open in anything but hostility to the United States. He could not lift the economic sanctions against Cuba (it requires an act of Congress to do so) but he reopened the U.S. Embassy, allowed air and cruise ship travel to the island from the U.S., and permitted investment by U.S. companies. The trip also included some truly cringe-worthy moments of President Obama nuking it up with Raoul Castro at a baseball game and even a photo op in front of a building emblazoned with the image of Commandante Che, a hero of the Cuban communist revolution.
In October 2016, then Vice President Biden was dispatched with his wife on a junket to Central America. The trip included a three-day stay in Cuba to discuss areas of cooperation with the Castro regime in healthcare and education.
It’s not as if the Obama-Biden administration was not capable of firm actions in favor of people wanting to be free of dictators. After all, it supported the Egyptian Revolution that deposed Hosni Mubarak, and the U.S. played a direct and active role in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.
If President Biden were to put the U.S. government behind the protesters and in favor of democracy in Cuba he would be repudiating the political legacy of President Obama who the American Left reveres as a god. That just isn’t going to happen.
The American and International Left Loves Communism in Cuba
The hashtag “#handsoffcuba” is already a thing on social media by accounts that go by names like the “Horn of Africa Leftists,” “Progressive International,” the “Milwaukee Democratic Socialists,” the “Philidelphia Young Communist League,” the “Movement For Popular Education,” and of course the “Communist Party of the USA.” They are demanding that the U.S. not meddle in the affairs of Cuba. This is the same demand that the Cuban government makes to its own citizens: that they not meddle in the affairs of their government either.
Democrats may control both the House and Senate but their majorities in both chambers go from tight in the House to razor-thin in the Senate. President Biden needs every vote he can get and can’t afford to alienate the radical leftists in his own party which believe that Cuba under the Castros is a tropical paradise of socialist harmony and plenty. They believe (in the solemn word of their fellow communists in Cuba) that the island has the highest literacy rate and best healthcare system in the world. What the Cuban regime does not mention is the low standards of living, food shortages, and even the absence of the simplest of freedoms, like the ability to travel within your own country. As long as President Biden is operating on such tight political margins he will have to keep these pro-Casto leftists in his camp.
Given these political realities, the United States’ foreign policy on Cuba under President Biden will not extend further than the construction of resort hotels owned by the Cuban Army while the Cubans who labor as maids, waiters, and cabana boys mutter, “Libertad’ under their breath as they serve European and American tourists taking a vacation from democracy.