The World Must Not Turn Its Back on Cuba

Haana photo by Juan Suarez

By Ronal Quiñones

HAVANA TIMES – It’s been more than a month now since the mass protests that took place in Cuba, on July 11th. Some people are wondering what has changed in the country since then, and the answer is not very much. What’s more, the things that have changed are only to cover up the tense sense of calm that Cubans have been living with for over a year.

Yep, because what happened that Sunday was the result of previous events, ever since residents in Havana’s San Isidro neighborhood rose up, or since a group of artists went to protest outside the Ministry of Culture. The historic July 11th protests were a popular uprising, which wasn’t called by anyone in particular, just a handful of gunpowder scattered across pretty much the whole island, in a surprising and shocking way. We’ve been sitting on top of a volcano for months now, and it was going to erupt at any moment.

Outside Cuba, some people want more glorious days like that Sunday, but the brutal repression many protestors fell victim to, especially those who became temporary leaders, has most people sitting in their homes.

So, to the people outside calling for Cubans like me, ordinary Cubans, to take action, I’m asking them to concentrate their efforts on trying to ensure that we can repeat these protests without violence.

How exactly? By applying international pressure, like the world did to overthrow the Apartheid government in South Africa, or to force Pinochet to hold a plebiscite. It was a colossal task that took years, but it’s the only way.

Leaders in this country need to feel alone, censored even by their allies, so that Cubans are granted the freedoms they have by Law. There’s no other way because they won’t leave power voluntarily, and the military option will never come, because nobody would dare.

So, efforts need to doubled down in diplomatic circles. The international Cuban community’s pressure, which is strong and decisive – both in quantitative and qualitative terms – cannot stop. Just don’t wait for more protests that will only bring further beatings and add more martyrs.

The blockade is finally playing its part and hitting the dictators where it hurts them the most, but it’s not enough. Now is the time we have to continue to close in around them, when they have less and less allies, and get to the UN. The UN Commission on Human Rights has to take action and enter Cuba with an inquiry commission, to make sure that every Cuban can express themselves freely.

Havana photo by Juan Suarez

Of course, the people living off this people’s sweat and backs will try to prevent this at all costs, but international pressure needs to be turned up, just like it has been successful in other parts of the world in the past, and it will be here too if the struggle continues.

Measures adopted by the Biden Administration to sanction Cuban police force members will do no good. These adults, to be polite, have no interest in visiting the US or have foreign bank accounts in their names, they are a lot smarter than that. If you’re going to try and punish them like this, you have to get to their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews and anyone who has a blood tie to them. They’d be hurt if they weren’t allowed to travel.

Those of us here will continue to fight with peaceful resistance, and will take to the streets now and again, but this can’t be the means that action abroad moves for. Now is the time for the dictatorship to pay once and for all for pushing them to live in exile, and they will regret having done so sooner or later, because they will be the ones to enforce change.

It’s practically impossible for this change to come from within national borders when it is a matter of unarmed civilians against a totalitarian state that is willing to do anything, like its leader always says.

Trying (because I don’t believe they will manage to do this) to make sure that every Cuban has access to the Internet won’t solve the problem either. Of course, it’s a help, and a great help at that, especially because it will help to open up many people’s eyes, and can also open the world’s eyes thanks to the only weapon the Cuban people have right now: cellphones.

Here, we will continue to document every clash, every disappearance, kidnapping and beating, even though the inept of the hour on the TV News will say that it’s enough to ask for somebody at a Police station or to present a Habeas Corpus petition to know where someone is.

Thanks to the Internet, every one of these lies will be exposed because every mother, sister or wife won’t be afraid of denouncing what has happened to their loved ones, but in order to be heard, everybody needs to feel like they aren’t being threatened, and this will only happen when third parties look out for them and make sure the Law is being upheld.

It’s not gratuitous that this Government has refused time and time again to sign the Human Rights treaties promoted by the UN. By not recognizing its organizations, it does not have the obligation to allow them to enter the country, but the world is applying pressure for this to happen.

International organizations have to mediate, without a single gun, so that Cuban society is able to express itself freely. We live on an island, and this country can’t be self-sufficient, it needs foreign aid. If this aid is eliminated, or the condition of free elections is placed, for example, we could win the battle.

Violence is my enemy, but I won’t shy away from it if need be. The thing is that in a situation like the one we have here, I don’t think it’s advisable, because we can’t compete on a level playing field. No country will intervene with military force in Cuba, let everyone know that, because it’s never happened before in places where thousands of people were being killed, and it won’t happen here.

As a result, we have to win the war with lobbying, diplomacy, but with a firm hand. They have to understand, for better or worse, that the Cuban people want radical change, not just four decrees to give the self-employed some freedoms or more lenient Customs regulations.

We have to continue with our peaceful resistance here, and abroad, people need to be knocking on every door and showing the truth so that nobody is left unaffected. Only international pressure will force change.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.

4 thoughts on “The World Must Not Turn Its Back on Cuba

  • Stephen’s analysis is correct, Cuba as a subject of international concern will remain on the back burner until there is a marked lull in events elsewhere in the world. Those of us who have particular concern about Cuba, have to recognize that others elsewhere have even more urgent and pressing concerns. That will be good news for the sycophants who writing in these pages, have continuously defended the repressive Castro regime, by pointing out that matters are even worse elsewhere, their message being that despite the best efforts of those in the Revolutionary Palace whom they so worship, Cuba is not yet right at the bottom of the pit of human misery.

  • I agree with the above comments that establish the fact that until Cubans are willing to man the front lines themselves, the international community will be reluctant to do more than they have done.

  • “We have to continue with our peaceful resistance here, and abroad, people need to be knocking on every door and showing the truth so that nobody is left unaffected. Only international pressure will force change.”

    Absolutely, Cubans in Cuba need to continue their peaceful resistance on the island. This will not be easy nor desirable for the majority after the horrendous militant response by the state police and their adherents.

    From an international perspective, unfortunately, the Cuban peaceful resistance is not a game changer for international politicians. With the current world crisis in many spheres like the never ending COVID pandemic, the increasing effects of climate change on the entire planet, the unforeseen rapid rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the grim earthquake situation in Haiti, all these important issues take precedent for international political leaders.

    Politicians’ time and resources are limited and their allegiance to their constituents voters paramount. The catastrophes’ alluded too are on the minds and pocketbooks of world citizens and are willing to donate to help alleviate suffering and insufferable physical pain.

    With regard to Cuba, there is a clear separation between the governed, the majority of Cubans, and the communist government, the minority. The communist government will not accept aid, help, from the outside unless that aid or help comes from like minded ideologues like Russia, China, Vietnam, Venezuela.

    Citizens of other countries visit and vacation in Cuba in the millions. The majority stay in hotels and resorts where the accommodation employees are specifically told not to interact with the vacationers regarding politics or the state of affairs in Cuba. To do so risks losing a well paid, secure, job in Cuba where well paid, secure jobs are few and more often than not, non-existent. Best to remain silent.

    So, the tourist who has the most advanced communication technologies, cell phones, tablets, Internet access, may be fully aware of the plight of the Cuban’s peaceful protests but if they witness no Cuban in the hotels or resorts, whom they discourse with, wants to talk about the dire situation and fully explain the negative economic situation precipitating civil demonstrations, the visiting vacationer will conclude there really isn’t a major transformative issue here on the island. This “silence” then is taken back home and communicated to family and friends.

    With regard to Western politicians speaking up and defending the demonstrations, well, what was their response.

    Let’s hear what Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, said at the time: “We’re deeply concerned by the violent crackdown on protests by the Cuban regime. We condemn the arrests and repression by authorities of peaceful demonstration,” he said at a public event in Montreal. “We stand, as we always will, with the people of Cuba who want and deserve democracy, freedom and respect.” (Trudeau reverses course, condemns violent Cuban crackdown, CBC News, July 15, 2021). And, that is it.

    Similarly, President Biden said roughly the same thing. That is all, unfortunately, the Cuban protesters and the majority of Cubans who sympathize with the rightful demonstrations will get from Canada who sends millions of tourists to Cuba annually. The Canadian government cannot do more politically and tangibly on a public stage as that would antagonize Canada’s very important trading partner. The current international response to those brave souls standing up for freedom and democracy is very timid at best. Sad.

  • The People of CUBA are clueless as to all of the natural destructions that are going on throughout the world besides hurricanes at this time along with other turmoil, thus has put CUBA on the bottom of the list to be addressed for any assistance from Biden USA. Not going to happen!

Comments are closed.