The Cuban people are once again rebelling against the communist prison state Fidel Castro established after he seized power in 1959.
Large demonstrations have occurred in over 30 towns and cities, with Havana the focal point. Haphazard reports of protests, arrests, and confrontations flood North American and European media, but the reports make it clear thousands of Cubans are in the streets demanding food, medicine, and freedom. The demonstrators also accuse the regime of utterly mishandling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moreover, a large and angry segment of the Cuban population supports the demonstrators and their insistent demands for basic survival necessities and competent government.
Does an overwhelming majority of the population support economic and political change?
My guess is yes, because the Fidelista regime’s reaction indicates it fears the people en masse. Like the Chinese Communist Party’s reaction to Tiananmen Square 1989’s demands for democracy, Cuba’s communist elites know permitting freedom means an end to their communist regime and their luxury lifestyles.
Remember, Tiananmen’s demonstrators built a ten-meter-tall papier mache statue they called the Goddess of Democracy. On June 4, 1989, the CCP government demolished the statue and murdered demonstrators by the thousands.
Cuba’s communists know repression can work. However, the Cuban thugs are not anywhere near as powerful as their Chinese compadres. The United States is just 90 miles away.
On July 12, the 21st century Castro dictatorship, now led by President Miguel Diaz-Canel, blocked several social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. On July 13 one source reported the regime had imposed a partial internet blackout.
The communist regime believes the protests and the demands are coordinated. By whom? Cuba’s foreign minister claimed—without evidence—the United States had financed the protests. Typical communist narrative warfare—blame the United States. The CCP blamed the United States for inciting Tiananmen’s and Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests.
Fidel Castro had charisma. International “progressive” leftists—sad cases like Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)—still venerate Fidel and excuse the regime’s vicious tyranny.
Diaz-Canel has minus personality, so 2021’s regime suffers from a severe charisma deficit it cannot blame on America. He just isn’t capable of jiving mass audiences with “hope” and utopian rhetoric. However, he is as long winded as Fidel. The BBC reported he gave a four-hour-long televised rant calling protestors “counter-revolutionaries.” He stated, “The order of combat is given, the revolutionaries take to the streets.”
More narrative warfare: “Revolutionaries” translated from Commie propaganda means “armed thugs the regime provides with food and toilet paper.” Diaz-Canel was ordering his security forces to attack the demonstrators. He hopes repression works.
There’s an argument made that since the late 1960s, when it became apparent Castro’s Cuba was a satellite of the Soviet Union, significant numbers of Cubans have been in constant rebellion.
Defecting athletes would receive some media attention. The most prominent rebels were and still are those who take to boats and rafts and try fleeing to elsewhere in the Caribbean, 21st century Chavista Venezuela excepted. Cubans know Nicolas Maduro commands another communist hellhole, though one buoyed by oil income and Russian and Iranian gunrunning.
Mass “boat lifts” occurred in 1980 and 1994. They were rebellions of a sort, with thousands of Cubans rejecting Castro’s self-proclaimed workers’ paradise and becoming refugees.
Many died fleeing. On social media, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) pointed out “that on July 13, 1994 the Cuban coast guard deliberately sank a tugboat carrying Cubans fleeing the island and then refused to rescue the passengers.” The Cuban attack killed 41 Cubans seeking freedom. Rubio followed that with video of a 2021 protestor “shot by regime forces” arriving at a hospital in a horse-drawn ambulance.
Right. Horse-drawn. Under the leadership of Fidel and his brother, Raul, Cuban agriculture has moved from tractors to oxen, transportation from buses to bicycles. The Cuban Army became a larger presence in the economy. The same thing has happened with China’s People’s Liberation Army.
Cuba’s July 2021 demonstrations may not topple the regime, but the protests indicate Cuba is on the verge of a cultural and political rebellion against Marxist tyranny.
Austin Bay is a colonel (ret.) in the U.S. Army Reserve, author, syndicated columnist, and teacher of strategy and strategic theory at the University of Texas–Austin. His latest book is “Cocktails from Hell: Five Wars Shaping the 21st Century.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.