AOC finally breaks her silence on Cuba unrest and blames US embargoes

AOC finally breaks her silence on Cuba unrest as she blames America’s ‘absurdly cruel’ embargoes – and blasts President Biden for defending the ‘Trump-era restrictions’

  • Democratic socialist voices including Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York have so far remained silent on the issue of Cuba as protests take place on the island
  • Cubans facing the country’s worst economic crisis in decades took to the streets to protest over the weekend 
  • Cuban authorities have blocked sites and apps including Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Telegram
  • In Miami, demonstrations also took place with Cuban dissidents asking the U.S. to intervene on the island 
  • Human rights organizations say they supporting young protesters and want the U.S. to intervene militarily
  • On Thursday, Biden called communism a ‘failed system’ and said ‘I don’t see socialism as a very useful substitute’ 
  • He also suggested the US may intervene to help restore internet access following blackouts believed to be sparked by the regime  

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has finally broken her silence on Cuba and blamed the unrest on America’s ‘absurdly cruel’ embargoes and blasted President Joe Biden for defending the ‘Trump-era restrictions’. 

‘We are seeing Cubans rise up and protest for their rights like never before. We stand in solidarity with them, and we condemn the anti-democratic actions led by President Diaz-Canel. The suppression of the media, speech and protest are all gross violations of civil rights,’ AOC wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. 

‘We also must name the U.S. contribution to Cuban suffering: our sixty-year-old embargo. Last month, once again, the U.N. voted overwhelmingly to call on the United States to lift its embargo on Cuba. 

‘The embargo is absurdly cruel and, like too many other U.S. policies targeting Latin Americans, the cruelty is the point. I outright reject the Biden administration’s defense of the embargo. It is never acceptable for us to use cruelty as a point of leverage against every day people.’ 

For days after the protests started, the Biden administration refused to mention communism and instead said the social turmoil was the result of ‘government mismanagement’. 

Biden said there were a ‘number of things’ his administration could to help the Cuban people but he expressed concern the communist-led government would take control of any aid sent there, such as remittances or COVID vaccines. 

‘They’ve cut off access to the internet. We’re considering whether we have the technology to reinstate that access.’

The widespread internet blackouts are believed to have been sparked by the government during the crackdown on protesters in the streets of Cuba. 

AOC’s response to the crisis in Cuba mirrors a Black Lives Matter statement on Thursday, which blamed the ‘cruel and inhumane’ US for the current unrest in Cuba and praised the Communist regime for its ‘solidarity’ with oppressed people.   

BLM accused the US of causing the instability with its embargoes which have caused ‘pain and suffering’ for Cubans for 60 years in the message which was branded ‘worse than embarrassing’. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has finally broken her silence on Cuba and blamed the unrest on America’s ‘absurdly cruel’ embargoes and blasted President Joe Biden for defending the ‘Trump-era restrictions’

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has finally broken her silence on Cuba and blamed the unrest on America’s ‘inhumane’ embargoes in a statement posted on Twitter

Thousands of Cubans took part in rare protests Sunday against the communist government, marching through a town chanting ‘Down with the dictatorship’ and ‘We want liberty’

Cuban supporters waved flags and honked car horns in support of the Cuban people in Little Havana, Miami on Monday

The Bronx Congresswoman tweeted after she and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders came under fire for their lack of public response to anti-government protests that began in Cuba over the weekend. 

Sanders broke his silence  on Tuesday and demanded the US end its embargo which ‘has only hurt, not helped the Cuban people’ and urged the communist nation’s government to refrain from violence against the island’s protesters and opposition. 

‘All people have the right to protest and to live in a democratic society,’ Vermont Sen. Sanders tweeted. ‘I call on the Cuban government to respect opposition rights and refrain from violence. It’s also long past time to end the unilateral U.S. embargo on Cuba, which has only hurt, not helped, the Cuban people.’ 

In Miami, home to a large community of Cuban Americans, hundreds turned out in Little Havana to express solidarity and celebrate what they viewed as the beginning of the end. On Twitter, Miami mayor Francis Suarez implored the United States to ‘take action.’ 

President Joe Biden called communism a ‘failed system’ during his joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

The Liberty Rally took place outside the Miami Cuban restaurant Cafe Versailles, a community hub

A show of support continued Monday at Miami Cuban restaurant Cafe Versailles as supporters gathered for a ‘liberty’ rally

Cubans are seen outside Havana’s Capitol during a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana, on Sunday

 There remains tension in Cuba following the historic protests, while support grows in South Florida for the Cuban people

The protests in Cuba marked some of the biggest displays of antigovernment sentiment in the tightly controlled country in years. 

Cuba is going through its worst economic crisis in decades, along with a resurgence of coronavirus cases, as it suffers the consequences of U.S. sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump’s administration. 

Large contingents of Cuban police patrolled the capital, Havana, on Monday following rare protests around the island nation against food shortages and high prices amid the coronavirus crisis. 

Cuba’s president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, said the demonstrations were stirred up on social media by Cuban Americans in the United States. 

Some Republican lawmakers, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, have praised the protests despite regularly villainizing protesters in their own states

‘Florida supports the people of Cuba as they take to the streets against the tyrannical regime in Havana. The Cuban dictatorship has repressed the people of Cuba for decades & is now trying to silence those who have the courage to speak out against its disastrous policies,’ DeSantis tweeted

Sen. Lindsey Graham encouraged the Biden administration to get involved, telling the White House not to be ‘AWOL’ 

In a post shared to its 4.5million Instagram followers, BLM said: ‘Black Lives Matter condemns the US federal government’s inhumane treatment of Cubans, and urges it to immediately lift the economic embargo. 

‘This cruel and inhumane policy, instituted with the explicit intention of destabilizing the country and undermining Cubans’ right to choose their own government, is at the heart of Cuba’s current crisis.

‘Since 1962, the United States has forced pain and suffering on the people of Cuba by cutting off food, medicine and supplies, costing the tiny island nation an estimated $130billion.

‘Without that money, it is harder for Cuba to acquire medical equipment needed to develop its own Covid-19 vaccines and equipment for food production. This comes in spite of the country’s strong medical care and history of lending doctors and nurses to disasters around the world.’ 

On Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken denied claims the US was to blame for the unrest.

He said a mismanaged economy was the root of the problems, which have seen people take to the streets.

BLM’s statement continued: ‘The people of Cuba are being punished by the US government because the country has maintained its commitment to sovereignty and self-determination.

‘United States leaders have tried to crush this revolution for decades. Instead of international amity, respect and goodwill, the US  government has only instigated suffering for the country’s 11 million people – of which four million are Black and Brown.

‘Cuba has historically demonstrated solidarity with oppressed peoples of African descent, from protecting Black revolutionaries like Assata Shakur through granting her asylum, to supporting Black liberation struggles in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and South Africa.

‘Now, we look to President Biden to end the embargo, something Barack Obama called for in 2016. This embargo is a blatant human rights violation and it must come to an end.’

Shakur, a former member of the Black Liberation Army, was convicted of being an accomplice to the murder of State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973.

At the time, she was also wanted for several felonies, including bank robber counts in New York and was known for her membership of the Black Panthers.

Shakur was with two other people when they were pulled over on the New Jersey Turnpike. The three opened fire on the troopers. 

Passenger James Coston was shot and killed by Officer James Harper. The shootout continued until Shakur, having shot and killed Foerster execution-style fled the scene with the surviving passenger, who remains in prison.

Both were apprehended by police shortly thereafter.  


 

 As the protests took place in Cuba, supporters flooded the streets of Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood to show support

The show of support continued both on Sunday and Monday at Miami Cuban restaurant Cafe Versailles, where supporters gathered for a ‘liberty’ rally

Hundreds packed 8th Street on Monday in Miami in Little Havana as Cuban-Americans called for change 

People on the island and in South Florida remain vocal and hopeful for progress

Cafe Versailles has been serving tasty Cuban cuisine and culture to the South Florida community and tourists from around the world for four decades and is a hub of the Little Havana community

Demonstrators are pictured on Monday evening in Little Havana. Another demonstration is expected Tuesday at 5pm

The White House responded to the accusation saying: ‘That’s simply inaccurate,’ 

‘There’s every indication that yesterday’s protests were reactions of the people in Cuba to exhaustion of the governance of the leaders of the state,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday at her daily briefing.

Díaz-Canel denounced vandalism that took place during the demonstrations.

‘They threw stones at foreign currency shops, they stole items… and at police forces, they turned over cars – a totally vulgar, indecent and delinquent behavior,’ he said.

But the president said pro-government supporters had finally restored order after instructing them to fight back and ‘defend the revolution’ – orders that caused consternation among some Cubans.

In Miami, where many Cubans who opposed Fidel Castro’s regime fled after the Cuban Revolution, opponents of the revolutionary leaders started marching in solidarity with protesters still on the island. 

Some Republican lawmakers, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, have praised the protests despite regularly villainizing protesters in their own states.

Riot police walk the streets after a demonstration against the government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Arroyo Naranjo Municipality, Havana on on Monday

Cubans take part in a demonstration in support of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel’s government in Arroyo Naranjo Municipality

Cuba on Monday blamed a ‘policy of economic suffocation’ of United States for unprecedented anti-government protests

Thousands of Cubans participated in Sunday’s demonstrations, chanting ‘Down with the dictatorship,’ as President Miguel Díaz-Canel urged pro-government supporters, pictured, to confront the protesters

The protests are significant as critics face harsh punishment for dissent

The island’s president called for his supporters, pictured, to ‘fight’ the protesters

The US – which has a decades-old history of hostilities with Cuba – has said it stands with Cubans, and called on those in government to refrain from violence and listen to its people. Pictured, Cubans take part in a demonstration in support of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel

Cuba’s economy is struggling. Tourism, one of the most important sectors, has been devastated by the restrictions on travel during the Covid pandemic. Cubans take part in a demonstration in support of their president

With protesters live-streaming footage on social media sites, the government is now finding it hard to hide evidence of the discontent

A man is arrested during a demonstration against the government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Arroyo Naranjo Municipality, Havana 

A man is arrested during a demonstration against the government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel. The fact that people are daring to do so in small towns where they can be easily identified by the Communist authorities shows the levels of anger fueling these protests

Shouting ‘Freedom!’ and ‘Down with Communism!’ may be considered tame in other parts of the world, but doing so on the tightly controlled Communist-run island can easily land you in jail

Riot police walk the streets after a demonstration against the government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Arroyo Naranjo

The significance of thousands of Cubans taking to the streets across the country can hardly be overstated. Riot police are pictured walking the streets after a demonstration against the government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Arroyo Naranjo

People wave Cuban flags during a protest against the Cuban government at Versailles Restaurant in Miami

People demonstrate, some holding Cuban and US flags, during a protest against the Cuban government at Cafe Versailles

A woman waves a US and a Cuban flag during a protest against the Cuban government

People wave US and Cuban flags during a protest against the Cuban government at Versailles Restaurant in Miami

People demonstrate, some holding Cuban and US flags, during a protest against the Cuban government

People demonstrate in Miami. Havana on Monday blamed a US ‘policy of economic suffocation’ for unprecedented protests against Cuba’s communist government as Washington pointed the finger at ‘decades of repression’ in the one-party state

People demonstrate, some holding Cuban and US flags, as they chantted slogans on top of cars, during a protest

A woman drives past as people wave Cuban flags during a protest in Little Havana

People rally in front of Cafe Versailles, a Cuban restaurant in the Little Havana neighborhood, in support of the Cuban people

Protests in Little Havana took place on both Sunday and Monday evening

There was a optimistic atmosphere at the Little Havana protests both on Sunday and Monday nights 

Hundreds of Cuban emigres gathered in the Little Havana section of Miami to stage a protest in solidarity with anti-government demonstrators on the island

Singer Yotuel Romero addresses protesters gathered in front of the Versailles restaurant in Miami as they show support for the people in Cuba who have taken to the streets to protest

Jorge Lieva (center) holds a sign calling on President Joe Biden to ‘help Cuba’ on Sunday

A protester holds the Cuban flag over his head during a demonstration in the Little Havana section of Miami

Cuban expats in Miami saw viral images circulating on social media showing protesters taking to the streets of Cuba on Sunday

Cuban expats in Miami rally against the Communist government in Havana on Sunday

One demonstrator in Miami holds a Cuban flag with the words ‘Anti-Communist’ written on it

Several of the protesters waved Cuban and American flags as well as signs calling on the US to send forces to the island

‘Florida supports the people of Cuba as they take to the streets against the tyrannical regime in Havana. The Cuban dictatorship has repressed the people of Cuba for decades & is now trying to silence those who have the courage to speak out against its disastrous policies,’ DeSantis tweeted.

‘The Communist Cuban regime will be consigned to the dustbin of history. It has brutalized & denied freedom to generations of Cubans, and forced my family & so many others to flee. The American people stand squarely with the men & women of Cuba and their noble fight for liberty,’ Senator Cruz tweeted.  

In Miami, a group of Cuban exiles and local conservative activists from Venezuela, Colombia and Nicaragua called for people in the city to support Cuba and called for the Biden administration to intervene in the aftermath of massive protests on the island. 

‘The Cuban people are not on the streets asking for medicine, they’re not on the streets asking for food. They’re in the streets demanding freedom,’ said Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat, a Cuban exile and member of the Assembly for Cuban Resistance, based in Miami.

Gutierrez-Boronat said he was supportive of young people on the island taking to the streets and would like to see the U.S. to intervene militarily. 

‘What they are saying is they don’t want a tomorrow with the Communist Party in charge.’

A man is arrested during a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana, Sunday

Several people with Cuban flags remain outside the national headquarters of the Union of Young Communists (UJC), in Havana, Cuba, on Monday

A woman goes out to a balcony where a Cuban flag is hanging in Havana, Cuba on Monday

Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, a political prisoner from Cuba who was jailed for 17 years on the island, said it was important for the U.S. government to understand that the groups did not support calls for negotiations with Cuban leaders.

‘We have to support those who are inside Cuba who are the real protagonists of this change,’ said Garcia Perez told the Miami Herald. ‘I, as a political prisoner, as an anti-Castro fighter, I am filled with hope to make a soon return to my homeland. 

‘Those people who are out on the streets are not asking for rafts. They’re not asking for boats, they’re not asking for planes or visas. They’re asking for freedom’, he said. 

In Havana, many young people took part in the demonstrations. Protests were also held elsewhere on the island, including in the small town of San Antonio de los Baños, where people objected to power outages and were visited by President Miguel Díaz-Canel. He entered a few homes, where he took questions from residents.

Authorities appeared determined to put a stop to the demonstrations. More than a dozen protesters were detained, including a leading Cuban dissident who was arrested trying to attend a march in the city of Santiago, 550 miles east. The demonstrators disrupted traffic in the capital for several hours until some threw rocks and police moved in and broke them up.

Plainclothes police detain an anti-government protester during a protest in Havana, Cuba

Police scuffle and detain an anti-government demonstrator during a protest in Havana on Sunday

A woman shouts pro-government slogans as anti-government protesters march in Havana. Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in several cities in Cuba to protest against ongoing food shortages and high prices of foodstuffs

Plainclothes police detain an anti-government protester during a protest in Havana, Cuba on Sunday

Pro-Government supporters shout slogans as anti-government protesters march in Havana

A police vehicle patrols through Old Havana, Cuba, Monday, July 12, 2021, the day after protests against food shortages and high prices amid the coronavirus crisis

Cubans under the effects of tear gas take part in a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in front of Havana’s Capitol

Cubans in the town of San Antonio de los Banos gather to meet with the Cuban president on Sunday

Thousands are seen marching in the streets of the Cuban capital on Sunday

A pro-government protester is seen during a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana on Sunday

Security forces loyal to the government detain a protester in Havana, Cuba, on Sunday

A man is arrested during a demonstration against the government of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel in Havana on Sunday

Internet service was spotty, possibly indicating an effort to prevent protesters from communicating with each other.  

Amnesty International said it had received with alarm reports of ‘internet blackouts, arbitrary arrests, excessive use of force – including police firing on demonstrators.’  

Network monitoring company Kentik said it had observed the entire country go offline for less than 30 minutes at around 4pm on Sunday, followed by several hours of intermittent outages.

‘Until very recently, large internet outages were very rare,’ said Doug Madory, Kentik’s director of Internet analysis. ‘Internet shutdowns are new to Cuba in 2021.’

Internet blockage observatory NetBlocks said there was partial disruption to social media and messaging platforms in Cuba on Monday, ‘likely to limit the flow of information from Cuba.’

‘We’ve seen how the campaign against Cuba was growing on social media in the past few weeks,” Díaz-Canel said Monday in a nationally televised appearance in which his entire Cabinet was also present. ‘That’s the way it’s done: Try to create inconformity, dissatisfaction by manipulating emotions and feelings.’

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel on Wednesday acknowledged shortcomings in his government’s handling of shortages and of neglecting certain sectors, but he urged Cubans to not act with hate – a reference to violence during recent street protests

Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz Canel walks with his followers after an anti-government protest in San Antonio de los Banos, Cuba, on Sunday

Police stand guard near the National Capitol building in Havana, Cuba

A Cuban flag hangs on Parque Central Hotel in Havana, Cuba, on Monday. Things were quieter in the Cuban capital

Police stand guard near the National Capitol building in Havana, Cuba, on Monday

President Joe Biden called the protesters ‘remarkable’ and made a brief statement on Cuban demonstrations on Monday from the Roosevelt Room 

In a statement Monday, U.S. President Joe Biden said Cuban protesters were asserting their basic rights.

‘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,’ Biden said.

‘The U.S. urges the Cuban government to serve their people rather than enriching themselves,” Biden added.

‘The Cuban people are demanding their freedom from an authoritarian regime. I don’t think we’ve seen anything like these protests in a long long time if, quite frankly ever,’ the president said.

‘The US stands firmly with the people of Cuba as they assert their universal rights. And we call on the government of Cuba to refrain from violence in their attempt to silence the voices of the people of Cuba.’  

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq on Monday stressed the U.N. position ‘on the need for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly to be respected fully, and we expect that that will be the case.’

The demonstrations were extremely unusual on an island where little dissent against the government is tolerated. 

The last major public demonstration of discontent, over economic hardship, took place nearly 30 years in 1994. 

Last year, there were small demonstrations by artists and other groups, but nothing as big or widespread as what erupted this past weekend. 

People walk through Paseo del Prado in Havana, Cuba on a far quieter day compared to Sunday

Police stand guard near the National Capitol building in Havana, Cuba on Monday

Thousands of Cubans took part in rare protests Sunday against the Communist government, marching through a town chanting ‘Down with the dictatorship’ and ‘We want liberty’. The image above shows Cubans in Havana on Sunday

Bicycle taxi drivers sit on their bikes as they wait for customers in Old Havana

A woman stands near an old car being worked on in Old Havana

In the Havana protest on Sunday, police initially trailed behind as protesters chanted, ‘Freedom!’ ‘Enough!’ and ‘Unite!’ One motorcyclist pulled out a U.S. flag, but it was snatched from him by others.

‘We are fed up with the queues, the shortages. That’s why I’m here,’ one middle-age protester said.

Later, about 300 pro-government protesters arrived with a large Cuban flag, shouting slogans in favor of the late President Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution. Some assaulted a video journalist with the AP, smashing his camera. Photojournalist Ramón Espinosa also of the AP was then beaten by a group of police officers in uniforms and civilian clothes; he suffered a broken nose and an eye injury.

The demonstration grew to a few thousand in the vicinity of Galeano Avenue and the marchers pressed on despite a few charges by police officers and tear gas barrages. People standing on many balconies along the central artery in the Centro Habana neighborhood applauded the protesters passing by. Others joined in the march.

About 2 1/2 hours into the march, some protesters pulled up cobblestones and threw them at police, at which point officers began arresting people and the marchers dispersed. 

At least 20 people were taken away in police cars or by individuals in civilian clothes.

Although many people tried to take out their cellphones and broadcast the protest live, Cuban authorities shut down internet service throughout the afternoon Sunday.

On Monday, Cuban authorities were once again blocking Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Telegram, said Alp Toker, director of Netblocks, a London-based internet monitoring firm confirmed.

‘This does seem to be a response to social media-fueled protest,’ he said. Twitter did not appear to be blocked, though Toker noted Cuba has the ability to cut it off if it wants to.

THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST WHO SYMPATHIZES WITH COMMUNISTS

Sanders praised Cuba’s late communist ruler Fidel Castro, pictured, during a lecture in 1986

Bernie Sanders is no stranger to controversy when it comes to comments about America’s Cold War enemies.

In 1972 he told a group of Vermont high school students that the United States’ actions in Vietnam were ‘almost as bad as what Hitler did.’

Sanders, who was 31 years old at the time, was running as the candidate for the Liberty Union Party, which was an offshoot of the antiwar movement.

The then-Burlington mayor praised Cuba’s late communist ruler Fidel Castro during a lecture in 1986.

‘I remember being very excited when Fidel Castro made the revolution in Cuba,’ Sanders is seen telling students at the University of Vermont in 1986.

‘It seemed right and appropriate that poor people were rising up against ugly rich people.’

Sandersalso  told the students how he became so disillusioned by John F. Kennedy when he ran for president in the early 1960s that he wanted to ‘puke’ because of his hardline anti-communist stance.

During his unsuccessful bid to defeat Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary in 2015-16, a video from 1985 was dredged up in which Sanders is seen heaping praise on Castro.

The grainy 1985 interview footage from Chittenden County, Vermont, shows Sanders praising Castro’s policies on education, health care and society in general.

At the time, Sanders had been on a recent trip to Nicaragua to observe the sixth anniversary of the Sandinista regime.

Daniel Ortega, left, and Hugo Chavez, presidents of Nicaragua and Venezuela respectively, during the former’s inauguration in 2007

He compared Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega – who is now president of Nicaragua – to Castro.

‘In 1961, [America] invaded Cuba, and everybody was totally convinced that Castro was the worst guy in the world,’ he said.

‘All the Cuban people were going to rise up in rebellion against Fidel Castro.

‘They forgot that he educated their kids, gave their kids health care, totally transformed society.

‘You know, not to say Fidel Castro and Cuba are perfect – they are certainly not – but just because Ronald Reagan dislikes these people does not mean to say the people in these nations feel the same.’

Indeed Sanders was sharply critical of Reagan, who had just been overwhelmingly re-elected to a second term the year before. 

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