The sanctions announced by the US government against the senior officials involved in the repression seem insufficient to them.
Yesterday was a holiday in Cuba, but the party was in Washington. Long before thousands of people took to the streets on July 11, shouting “Down with the dictatorship!”, Cubans in exile had hired buses to demonstrate in front of the Cuban embassy in Washington on July 26, the anniversary of the “Day of National Rebellion”, in the words of the Granma newspaper, the official organ of the Cuban government.
The 68th anniversary of the failed assault on the Moncada Barracks celebrates Fidel Castro’s first cannon shot at the Batista regime, along the same lines that many see the J 11 protests against the regime that emerged from the 1959 revolution. Cubans believe that the foundations of the system have been cracked and, far from surrendering to the repression that followed those protests, they believe that it is time to strike harder.
The thousands of exiles who made a vigil in front of the White House yesterday demand that the government of Joe Biden tighten the nuts on the regime. The sanctions it announced on Wednesday against senior officials involved in the repression seem insufficient to them and demand that the US government recognize the recently emerged opposition groups, such as the San Isidro Movement, and give them a role as international interlocutors. Some go even further and call for “a humanitarian intervention” in the form of a flotilla to bring a shipment of medicine and food to the island to alleviate the shortage of supplies that prolongs the queues at state establishments.
The Cuban government does not even want to hear about “humanitarian intervention”, a term it considers the code phrase of the Blair Doctrine for a military invasion, like the NATO bombings of Kosovo in 1999. Even if it is only about introducing drugs to the country, the shadow of the “humanitarian convoy” with which Juan Guaidó tried to cross the Tienditas bridge from the Colombian border in 2019 hovers over international consciousness. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) itself acknowledged in an internal April report that the shipment, ordered by the Trump administration, “did not align with the principles of neutrality and independence” necessary to be considered international aid, because neither it was even based on a country needs assessment. Of the 368 tons shipped, only eight reached Venezuela. The rest stayed in Colombia or were sent to Somalia, but the attempt caused a violent clash with the Venezuelan Army that left two dead and more than 300 wounded.
Still, the Cuban exile in Miami yearns for Biden to follow in Trump’s footsteps and repeat the action with a flotilla of Cubans. At least 18 coaches arrived in Washington from Miami on Sunday, in addition to others from Texas and New Jersey. Exile has the US government caught by Florida, a state that voted Trump twice and is key to winning the White House. The last time a Democrat was elected governor of Florida was in 1994 and everything indicates that Biden’s party will not fare better in next year’s legislative elections, unless he firmly joins the Cuban struggle against the communist regime. . “The protests have been a great opportunity to put (the Democrats’ commitment to exile) to the test,” the Miami Herald published this weekend in its editorial. “Instead of calling for an end to a repressive communist regime, some Democrats blamed the embargo, copying a page from Castro’s script and making it very easy for Republicans who label them communists.”
That is what people like Lázaro Veida, a 56-year-old Cuban-American who, like so many others, flew from different parts of the country to Washington to make sure “that Biden puts more pressure on the Cuban government,” he told the cameras. “For some reason he doesn’t want to do it,” he complained. The recent testimonies of Cuban musicians such as Silvio Rodríguez, who on Wednesday requested freedom for the detainees who have not participated in acts of violence, or the Van Van, another symbol of culture’s commitment to the State, fan the hopes of those who mounted yesterday the party of horns and flags around the White House and the Cuban embassy.