The protests of thousands of Cubans who took to the streets last Sunday and Monday made the president of USA, Joe Biden, set his attention on the island.
But he did it to harshly criticize the government of Cuba, a position that removes the possibility of reconciliation between the two countries and the expected lifting of some sanctions by Washington.
In his remarks on Thursday, Biden “evidently disappointed many (in Cuba) who expected, not that he would revert to the policies of (Barack) Obama, but that he would reverse the crudest and crudest measures of (his Republican predecessor Donald) Trump. “Cuban academic and former diplomat Carlos Alzugaray told AFP.
“Undoubtedly there were many things (in his election announcements) for which there were expectations,” he added.
Flags of Cuba and the United States during a protest by Cubans living in Miami against the La HAbana regime, this Friday. Photo: AFP
As a candidate, Biden had been willing to restore the gains made under Obama, lifting restrictions on remittances and travel to Cuba, which is just 145 km from Florida.
This week thousands of Cubans took to the streets shouting “we are hungry”, “down with the dictatorship” and “freedom” in dozens of cities and towns to protest the hardships and growing difficulties.
The protests left one dead, dozens injured and more than 100 detainees.
Biden and Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel hold each other responsible for the situation.
Chronology of relations between the United States and Cuba. / AFP
Crossing of accusations
The Cuban president accused the United States of instigating and financing the riots, while Biden on Thursday referred to Cuba as “a failed state that represses its citizens.”
Faced with the worst wave of covid-19 on the island, it also offered to send vaccines on the condition that an international organization apply them in Cuba, the only country in the region that developed its own immunizers.
But will not allow remittances from the United States. “It would not do that now,” because it is likely that “the regime will confiscate those remittances,” he said.
With these statements “he shows a total ignorance of the Cuban situation,” says Alzugaray.
“A failed state is one that, in order to please a reactionary and blackmailing minority, is capable of multiplying the damage to 11 million human beings,” Díaz-Canel responded on Twitter on Friday.
“If Biden had sincere humanitarian concern for the Cuban people, he could eliminate the 243 measures applied” by Trump, he added in reference to the embargo that the United States has imposed on Cuba since 1962, intensified during the Trump administration (2017-2021).
For Michael Shifter, president of Inter-American Dialogue, a Washington-based think tank, “the protests have put Cuba on Washington’s agenda again. But at the same time they have made it very difficult, if not impossible, for the Biden administration to lift the punitive measures “of its predecessor.
Six months after the arrival of Democrat Biden to the White House, “the changes (in US policy) are not seen, the blockade measures are still in force,” Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez lamented this week.
Miami Cubans demonstrate against the government of Miguel Díaz-Canel and demand an “intervention” by the United States. Photo: AFP
The right wing of the Cuban exile demands a heavy hand with Havana, the final thrust.
If the head of the White House tries to “soften and relax” towards a “more humanitarian approach he will be harshly criticized by Republicans, for giving too much to the regime. Politics is stagnant,” says Michael Shifter.
But the architect of the rapprochement with Cuba during the Barack Obama administration, former National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, demanded that Biden act on Tuesday.
“Cubans have courageously expressed their frustrations and exercised their universal rights in truly inspiring ways. We should think above all about what we can do to help them,” he said, suggesting sending food, medicine and allowing remittances to flow.
Criticisms of Cuban Americans
The New York-based organization Cuban Americans For Engagement (CAFE) expressed in a statement its “deepest concern” over the protests and said it understood the “frustration” of people at the “worst time.”
The group of intellectuals blames the Cuban government for ignoring “important advice” for the gradual liberalization of the economy, which added to “other failures” led to the demonstrations.
But he stressed that the Biden government is “hypocritical” in offering “its support to the Cuban people while applauding the riots.”
“If you care so much about Cubans, then lift the sanctions, at least the most pressing ones, which will help our family and friends to better deal with the pandemic.”
CAFE urged “that common sense prevails on both shores, that sanctions be lifted” and “democratization mechanisms.”
“There are no more 60 years to waste,” he said.