The Best Way to Support Cubans Is to End the US Blockade

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      COVID-19 has brought economic and social crises to much of the world, and nowhere more than the Third World, where poor infrastructure, poverty, resource export dependence, inequality, and lack of accountability are endemic. Protests against scarcity, structural violence, police brutality, and corruption erupted everywhere from the United States to Colombia, Haiti, Brazil, Guatemala, Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina, just to mention a few. That unrest in Latin America rarely merited notice in the US news media — until it happened in Cuba.

      In some ways, the protests in Cuba were similar to those elsewhere in the region. But in some ways, they were different. Cubans were protesting a government that the United States has officially declared an enemy and has been actively trying to overturn for more than sixty years. And the United States has actively promoted anti-government activity in Cuba with words, money, and arms. It’s not surprising that President Joe Biden, who had little to say about the dozens killed and hundreds injured by police during the protests in Colombia, other than to express his backing for Colombia’s right-wing president Iván Duque, gushed repeatedly about his support for Cuban protesters, with the obligatory denunciation of “Cuba’s authoritarian regime.”

      Biden’s words were mirrored across the entire spectrum of mainstream US voices, the few exceptions being academics who actually know something about Cuba, like Louis Pérez and William LeoGrande. Regarding Latin American revolutions, liberal politicians and pundits have fallen right in line with the far right and Donald Trump, whose administration famously dubbed Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba a “troika of tyranny” and vowed to “end the glamorization of socialism and communism.” The New York Times obediently chimed in with Trump at the time, denouncing Bernie Sanders for his visit to Nicaragua in 1985. Even left media outlets joined the chorus.

      After the July 26, 1959, revolutionary victory in Cuba, US officials pondered how to respond. Could they control this revolution in the interests of US corporations, as they managed to do in Bolivia in 1954? They worried especially about the larger impacts of a successful revolution. One State Department official wrote that “there are indications that if the Cuban revolution is successful, other countries in Latin America and perhaps elsewhere will use it as a model. We should decide if we wish to have the Cuban Revolution succeed.” Another, a few months later, warned that “our attitude to date [could] be considered a sign of weakness and thus give encouragement to communist-nationalist elements elsewhere in Latin America who are trying to advance programs similar to those of Castro.”

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

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