After six decades of communist rule, thousands of angry Cubans have taken to the streets, demanding freedom and calling for communist President Miguel Diaz-Canel to step down. Their message is straightforward: “Basta!”
Enough of living in near poverty. Enough of being denied the most basic human rights. Enough of broken promises and abandoned dreams. Enough of COVID-19 and no vaccine.
Communist police are using tear gas and arresting Cuban demonstrators, but the regime is facing an existential crisis reminiscent of 1989 in Eastern Europe and the open rebellion of people behind the Iron Curtain.
In January of that year, East Germany’s communist boss boasted that the Berlin Wall would stand for another 100 years. In November, the wall came tumbling down under the pressure exerted by the East German and other captive peoples, no longer willing to accept Communist rule.
The present-day Cuban demonstrations are a logical outcome of communist Cuba’s long-standing indifference to the life of the Cuban people. Consider these facts.
From 1959 through the late 1990s, more than 100,000 Cubans were placed in forced labor camps and prisons, including the infamous Presidio Modelo on the Island of Pines. Between 15,000 and 17,000 people were shot, more than a few at the hand of Che Guevara. Fidel Castro justified his reign of terror with these words: “The revolution is all; everything else is nothing.”
Communist Cuba exported Marxism-Leninism throughout Latin America, in Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Venezuela. A special target was the small island nation of Grenada, which was to function as the third leg of a communist triangle of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Communist Cuba often provided the ground troops for the Soviet Union’s strategy of inciting Third World revolution, especially in Africa. For example, Castro sent a force of 50,000 men to Angola.
Communist Cuba brought the world to the brink of nuclear war in 1962 when it allowed the Soviets to build sites for offensive nuclear missiles aimed at major cities in the United States. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev said that Castro requested a Soviet nuclear attack on the United States.
At this possible tipping point in Cuba, what should be the U.S. response? President Joe Biden has said he wants to restore America’s moral leadership around the globe. He has been given a golden opportunity to do so.
Since 1959, every U.S. president from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama issued a Captive Nations Proclamation, condemning communist tyranny and pledging America’s support of those captive peoples yearning to be free.
It so happens that there are still five communist regimes in the world: China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos — and Cuba. But the White House is said to be thinking of replacing the Captive Nations phrase for “Free and Open Societies Week.”
While such a change would probably please George Soros — whose own vehicles for destabilizing other countries are called “Open Society Foundations” — and other progressives, it would sorely disappoint the brave Cuban dissidents who are standing up to Cuba’s communist rulers.
The bipartisan Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation has got it right, urging Biden to demonstrate the commitment of the United States to promoting liberty and human rights by issuing “a strong 2021 Captive Nations Week proclamation.” All who support freedom should second VOC’s motion.