This past weekend, thousands of Cubans gathered in towns and cities throughout the country in a show of solidarity against the Communist regime that has dominated the island nation for more than six decades. As the situation continues to develop, shocking images and videos have emerged of pro-government forces forcibly arresting hundreds of people as Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel called for his supporters to take to the streets to “combat” the protests. But amid the chaos and violence, perhaps the most striking image has been that of dozens of American Flags waving alongside Cuban flags, all as cries of “Freedom!” ring in the streets.
Historically, this is not an altogether unprecedented occurrence, as the American Flag has long been a potent symbol for oppressed peoples the world over. Just last year, pro-democracy demonstrators in Iran refused to trample an American Flag painted on the ground in a show of defiance against their tyrannical government. When freedom-loving people in Hong Kong faced a brutal crackdown from Communist China in 2019 and 2020, they waved American Flags and sang the National Anthem outside the U.S. Consulate in a plea for help.
As Old Glory continues to represent freedom around the world, the contrast could not be clearer with Democrat politicians ramping up their efforts to paint the flag and the country as racist and oppressive here in the United States.
Just days ago – on the Fourth of July no less – prominent Democrats took to Twitter to bemoan the supposed evils of America. Cori Bush, a Democrat Congresswoman from Missouri, claimed that the United States “is stolen land and Black people still aren’t free.” Shortly thereafter, Maxine Waters of California baselessly asserted that the Declaration of Independence is racist.
Professional athletes and cultural figures have also piled onto the America-bashing bandwagon, apparently completely unaware of just how much opportunity they’ve been given by the nation they are denouncing. In one recent incident, Gwen Berry, a hammer thrower who is set to represent the United States on the world stage at the Olympics later this summer, turned her back to the flag during the playing of the national anthem at Olympic Trials. Macy Gray, a Grammy-winning singer, also recently called the American Flag “tattered, dated, and divisive” before suggesting that it should be replaced altogether.
All of these comments from American leftists would likely baffle demonstrators in Cuba. Indeed, their display of affection for the United States was rightly taken by many conservatives as a resounding validation of the American system. Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-FL), a Cuban-American whose family fled the Castro regime, said as much in a recent interview with Fox News, asserting that Cubans are “waving the American flag because that is the symbol of freedom. And that’s why my family brought me here to this country and that’s why I’m in Congress, to fight to make sure that America stays free.”
Amazingly but perhaps predictably, the mainstream media is attempting to downplay the political significance of the protests, attributing the unrest only to “medical shortages” and “power outages,” rather than widespread discontent with the socialist regime in Cuba. One CNN piece conceded that “lack of freedom” is a contributing cause, but nonetheless refrained from mentioning that Cuba is a socialist country.
This strategy is in line with the general reluctance of so-called “democratic-socialists” to explicitly criticize the Cuban regime for the untold suffering it has wrought on the Cuban people. While Cuban refugees nearly universally denounce the evils and failures of socialist governance, politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – who have never lived one day under socialist rule – have openly praised the likes of former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, while simultaneously bashing America.
President Biden and his administration have appeared to largely adopt this “progressive” approach. In response to the protests this past weekend, the White House released a meager statement which called the Cuban regime “authoritarian,” but was careful to avoid any mention of the word “socialist” or “communist.”
Meanwhile, Donald Trump issued a statement of his own that called on Biden to “stand up to the Communist regime” and criticized former President Obama for his policy of appeasement toward the Castro family.
Throughout his time in office, President Trump pursued a dramatically different approach to the Cuban regime than either his predecessor or his successor. While Obama and Biden eased economic sanctions and sought warm relations with top Cuban officials, Trump pursued a hardline approach aimed at forcing the Cuban regime to enact democratic-minded reforms.
Shortly after taking office, Trump promised to “expose the crimes of the Castro regime and stand with the Cuban people in their struggle for freedom.” He proceeded to scrap the Obama-era Cuba policy and instead instituted a maximum pressure campaign.
These latest pro-democracy protests could well be in part a result of Trump’s tough stance against the Cuban regime.
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