Black Lives Matter has attracted a new round of scrutiny following a recent statement in support of the Cuban regime even when the communist government is dealing with large-scale citizen protests. In the statement, posted on July 14 on the organization’s official Instagram account, BLM praised the Cuban government for its “solidarity” and for granting asylum to “black revolutionaries.” It also went on to criticize Washington for the “cruel and inhumane” embargo placed on Cuba.
“Black Lives Matter condemns the U.S. 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,” the statement said.
The U.S. embargo against Cuba, instituted on Feb. 7, 1962, bans American businesses from carrying out trade with Cuban interests. In 1992, Congress passed the Cuban Democracy Act which mandates that the sanctions on Cuba continue to be in place as long as the communist government refuses to give greater respect to human rights and move towards democratization. In 2000, the embargo was softened as Washington allowed the trade of humanitarian supplies and food.
The BLM statement accuses the 1962 embargo of cutting off the Cuban people from medicine, food, supplies, etc. Praising Cuba’s “strong medical care” system, BLM also blames the embargo for the COVID-19 crisis in the country.
BLM accused U.S. leaders of trying to “crush this revolution” for decades (the communist movement in Cuba) and insists that Washington is punishing Cuban citizens for their commitment to “sovereignty and self-determination.” The movement then cites population statistics of Cuba to state that out of the 11 million people in the country, four million are black and brown. BLM called on the Biden administration to end the embargo.
Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York also agreed with BLM’s stance on the Cuban protests. Although she condemned the “anti-democratic actions” of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, she insists that the U.S. must be called out for its “contribution to Cuban suffering” through the sixty-year embargo. Calling the trade sanction “absurdly cruel,” she criticized the Biden administration’s defense of the policy.
“We also call for an end to the U.S. embargo and additional Trump-era restrictions that are profoundly contributing to the suffering of Cubans,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio, whose family had fled to America from Cuba, denounced the BLM statement. “The extortionist ring known as the Black Lives Matter organization took a break today from shaking down corporations for millions & buying themselves mansions to share their support for the Communist regime in #Cuba,” Rubio said in a tweet.
In his July 12 speech on the Senate floor, Rubio had asked the Biden administration to maintain the embargo and Trump-era policies on Cuba. He dismissed the idea that the U.S. embargo is somehow responsible for the crisis in Cuba.
Rubio accused the communist government of suppressing independent small businesses by exercising control over trade, taking control of the U.S. dollars that Cuban immigrants in America send back home, and hoarding supplies of food medicine, etc. The senator also said that the Cuban government hoards COVID-19 vaccines, only supplying them to “people who behave” while holding back vaccination from dissenters.
“What’s happened in Cuba is that socialism has failed. It has to repress the people who complain about it. You don’t get your freedom back. And like socialists always do, they have to find someone to blame. And who do they blame? Number one, they blame anybody in the country that doesn’t agree with them. You’re immediately a counterrevolutionary. You’re immediately a pawn of the imperialists,” Rubio stated.
In a write-up at Fox News, Marion Smith, President of Common Sense Society, says that BLM cares “more about advancing Marxism” than about protecting the rights of black and brown people. Two of BLM’s founders are “trained Marxist agitators.” He says that the reason why BLM tolerates the Cuban regime is because of the common ideology that they share – Marxism.
The only goal of BLM, “the same goal that Marxists have sought since the Russian Revolution,” is that they want power and are “willing to obtain it by any means.” Smith states that by backing Cuba and bashing America, BLM as well as its allies like Ocasio-Cortez stand in the way of Cuban liberation.
“Their defense of the indefensible and criticism of their own free country have dangerous effects. It intimidates Americans from supporting the Cuban people and may even block the Biden administration from punishing the Cuban regime for its oppression,” Smith writes in the article.
Jose Luis Aparicio Ferrera, a movie producer, and director from Cuba slammed BLM’s position on Cuba in a social media post. “To #blacklivesmatters all black lives matter except Cuban black lives,” Ferrera said on Facebook.
Cuban protests, which began on July 11, were triggered following a shortage of medicines and food in the country. It is one of the largest protests against the communist government since 1994. Protestors around the country have taken to the streets with chants like “Down with Communism.” NGO Prisoners Defenders has documented 112 forced disappearances and arrests amidst the protests. Dissident organization Cuba Decide estimates the current death toll at five.