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The Protests in Cuba are Against Communism

Contrary to Twitter and media depictions, Cubans are protesting against the regime rather than a simple vaccine shortage.

People gather in front of the Cuban Embassy to stage a protest against The Communist Party of Cuba, which is the ruling political party in the Republic of Cuba, in Buenos Aires, Argentina on July 14, 2021. (Photo by Muhammed Emin Canik/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Over the past week, the protests in Cuba have earned widespread coverage across the globe. The motivation for the protests is clear to the participants and most onlookers, yet media outlets have insisted on an alternative explanation.

A viral video released on Sunday shows a large group of Cubans shouting “Cuba isn’t yours” in front of the Communist Party headquarters. Protesters also yelled “down with communism” and “down with Díaz-Canel,” in reference to Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who also serves as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, having succeeded Raúl Castro (the younger brother of Fidel Castro).

The obvious takeaway from the protests is that a significant portion of the Cuban population has had enough of communist rule, expressing their opposition to the regime. But according to Twitter’s description, the protests were due to “shortages of COVID-19 vaccines and basic necessities.” The New York Times offered a similarly disturbing evaluation, arguing that the Cuban protesters “shouting ‘freedom’ and other anti-government slogans” were simply upset about “food and medicine shortages.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked this week if the administration acknowledges that the protests are against communism, but her dismissive response placed the blame on government mismanagement without any recognition of the regime at fault. Obviously, the lack of essentials has played a role in the public frustration, but to suggest that the proximate cause of the protests is simply mismanagement and a supply shortage is, to quote President Biden, malarkey.

Others, including Black Lives Matter, have blamed the U.S. embargo on Cuba as the cause of the poverty and misery suffered by Cubans. The embargo is a convenient scapegoat for those who insist that every injustice in the world is attributable to the United States, but it’s difficult to reconcile with reality on the ground. After all, it is not the embargo that has restricted internet access to the public, detained critical journalists, prevented hungry families from fishing, and arrested protesters en masse. No, the endless cycle of oppression begins and ends with the communist dictatorship.

Misdirecting to vaccine shortages and embargos not only distorts the facts, but excuses the barbaric regime. It misleads Americans and humiliates Cuban dissidents, who are relying on the international community for support. None of this necessarily means that the U.S. or any other country should intervene directly in Cuban affairs, but at the very least, we should be telling the truth about the dire situation. And the truth is that the Cuban people have endured decades of communist oppression, resulting in the shortages and desperation now on display for the world to see.

Michael Huling is a graduate student at the Pepperdine University School of Public Policy and an editorial intern for The American Conservative.

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