Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called on President Biden to step up the rhetoric against Havana, Tuesday evening. Speaking on Fox’s Hannity program, Graham said he would introduce legislation to step up U.S. sanctions against the oppressive Díaz-Canel government in Cuba. Against a background of mass protest on the island, Graham blasted away at the missed opportunity to double down on the communists and aid the Cuban people:
“I would send a signal to the Cuban government that we’re not going to sit on the sidelines as you destroy people in our backyard, and we need to give voice to freedom. America is the symbol of freedom to most everybody in the world. To President Biden, where are you when the people of Cuba need you the most?”
Meanwhile, very little news is reaching American shores amid an internet blackout in the jewel of the Caribbean. The number of arrests appears to be high based on what some Cubans have been able to tweet in the last 24 hours. However, the Cuban government has been shown shooting at its people and did admit to killing one person.
And the Beat Goes On …
The story of Cuba is such a long and winding tale – so sad, so evil, and so intertwined with failed U.S. foreign policy – that this week’s large-scale uprising could not help but ignite a spark of hope that the island nation would once again become a thriving paradise. However, the relative silence in the last 24 hours leads one to believe the crescendo of this symphony may have already sounded, and the world is left straining to hear whether this is merely a musical interlude or a final movement lies ahead.
Freedom for the Cuban people sits tantalizingly close, only 90 miles away – so near, yet so far. It seems the communist authorities learned much from the Arab Spring about how best to quell dissent among the masses: bring out the revolutionary goons to haul away protesters, reclaim the city streets with a heavy military presence, and, most significant, shut down the internet.
Utilizing the psychological tactic of displacement, the communist regime of President Miguel Díaz-Canel hoisted blame for the uprising upon the broad shoulders of the United States. Truth be known, the U.S. has much to answer for regarding the situation in Cuba.
Because it is relatively recent, most Americans know about the Revolución Cubana – the armed revolt carried out by Fidel Castro and his band of revolutionaries. Much like the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany, it took many years and perseverance to overcome countless obstacles and morph a corrupt and feckless government into a communist dictatorship. Years of guerrilla warfare, interspersed with prison, faced the Castro insurgents – yet they would not be deterred. Ultimately, the U.S.-backed government of President Fulgencio Batista would fall.
However, it took much more to create the Frankenstein that would twist Cuba into the dysfunctional, oppressive government that it is today. In fact, United States intervention goes back to the turn of the 20th century when more than 5,000 U.S. troops quelled a constitutional crisis on the island. American diplomat Charles Edward Magoon was appointed de facto president of Cuba for several years, giving him complete and unfettered control of the nation. Despite widespread suspicion that the Magoon administration was rife with corruption, it held until 1909. More than half a century later, in 1961, came the disastrous and humiliating Bay of Pigs invasion, and in 1962 the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world closer than ever to nuclear war. The United States has since become the sworn enemy of a regime perpetually on the verge of economic collapse.
Fast Forward to Today
If it is even possible to imagine, life for Cubans has degraded even further over the last year. The once-lauded health care system has all but collapsed, and the people are starving for food and freedom. Cuban journalist Abraham Jiménez Enoa tweeted from Havana: “Cuba is an island ruled by the military for 62 years. Today there is no food, no medicine, and people are dying like flies from Covid. People got tired. This country is losing even fear.” Director of Human Rights Watch’s Americas division, José Miguel Vivanco, echoed this sentiment with a quote printed in a prominent Washington newspaper: “People [in Cuba] are screaming for freedom.”
Unfortunately, the key to the Cuban uprising lies in the palm of the Communist dictatorship’s hand: the internet. Jiménez Enoa tweeted on July 13, “The Cuban regime has the country without internet. So that journalists do not report so that citizens do not connect with each other and do not continue to take to the streets and so that what happens here does not continue to spread like wildfire in the world.” Despondent, he ended his tweet with #SOSCuba.
Without access to the internet, this distress call is unlikely to result in meaningful change for the long-suffering people of Cuba. It is no accident that following the few video snippets of massive demonstrations on July 11, information about the internal unrest in the country that lies less than a hundred miles south of the greatest military superpower on the face of the Earth has slowed to a crawl. Cuban Americans and lovers of freedom anxiously await the coda of this symphony, but one wonders if all they will hear is the sound of silence.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.