ANALYSIS – As the anti-regime crisis in Cuba intensifies just 90 miles from the United States, Cuban freedom protesters from across the country converged in front of the White House Sunday night peacefully demanding Biden act strongly against the socialist dictatorship and support anti-regime demonstrators in Cuba. While these DC protests receive far less media coverage than BLM or other protests in the past year, they are significant.
Under pressure, after quietly ignoring the initial upheaval in Cuba, the Biden administration belatedly announced its support of the protesters in Cuba and has also leveled some sanctions. Most Cuban Americans, and many throughout the country, and the world, think that is not enough.
Maria Elvira Salazar, a freshman GOP Congresswoman from Miami, and my former colleague and co-host on Univision Radio, provided this tweet of the Sunday night protest:
— María Elvira Salazar 🇺🇸 (@MaElviraSalazar) July 26, 2021
The repressive communist dictatorship just miles from Miami has been in power for over six decades. Well over two million Cubans have fled the island for the United States. This number includes my parents, and other family, who escaped in the early 1960s. Many thousands of Cubans have died on boats and rafts attempting to escape from the 1990s till today.
Chaos in Cuba also has the potential to quickly become a nightmare for the U.S. as multiple past American presidents, especially Jimmy Carter, long ago learned. A massive refugee boat or rafter wave could overwhelm South Florida in a matter of days, as the 1980 Mariel Boatlift with 120,000 Cubans fleeing Castro’s ‘Socialist Paradise’ showed.
This is something Team Biden is acutely aware of.
But Biden should also not forget also that Cuban Americans are a key voting bloc in several places, but specifically in the critical swing state of Florida. Many believe that Cuban Americans decided the razor-thin 2000 election in favor of GW Bush due to Clinton’s failed appeasement of the Castro regime, and his harsh actions toward the small Cuban boy Elian Gonzalez.
Then five-year-old Elian had survived a raft in shark-infested waters in 1999 with his mother fleeing to the United States. His mother perished at sea, and in April 2000 President Clinton forced Elian to return to communist Cuba – at gunpoint.
Another earlier embarrassment was Clinton allowing three American citizens, and one resident, from a humanitarian rescue group called ‘Brothers to the Rescue’ flying small light civilian planes near Cuba in 1996 searching for rafters to be murdered by the Cuban Air Force. The attack was later shown to have been in a premeditated aerial ambush ordered by the Castros that brought one Cuban MiG jet fighter dangerously close to, or even into, U.S. airspace.
What do Cuban Americans want from Bide? The Miami Herald reported that the Cuban freedom protesters in DC had different expectations of what “more” from Biden actually meant. Some went as far as suggesting a U.S. military intervention in Cuba.
While that is unlikely, barring a collapse of the regime and chaos that would threaten the U.S., a more realistic option, notes Fox News, should be the U.S.’s ability to circumvent the regime-imposed internet blackouts on the Island so Cubans can communicate inside and outside the island and be informed in real-time of events in their own country.
But stronger sanctions and concrete support for the dissidents and freedom fighters in Cuba are also ‘realistic’ options Biden should consider.
More importantly, Biden should drop any thoughts of lessening the strong Trump policies against the dictatorship, which many believed Biden intended to do. This is absolutely not the time for Democrats to – yet again – save the failed socialist dictatorship in Cuba.
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