CubaBrief: Castro regime condemned twice in the U.S. Congress and twice in the European Parliament in 2021. The importance of U.S. sanctions in ending the Castro regime’s internal blockade.

Castro regime condemned twice in the U.S. Congress and twice in the European Parliament in 2021

In 2021 the Castro regime was twice condemned in the U.S. Congress and twice in the European Parliament. It is true that small numbers remain that continue to back the Cuban autocracy, and should rightfully be called to account for backing a dictatorship that shoots and imprisons its own people when they peacefully protest.

The Washington Times editorial board published their opinion, “Democrats who praised Castro regime lack credibility on Cuba sanctions,” on Monday, December 27, 2021 that highlighted a minority of Democratic Congressional representatives advocating ” to reverse sanctions against Cuba’s communist regime,” and their ties to the dictatorship.

Nevertheless, it is important to recall that every Senate Democrat, together with their Republican colleagues, on August 3, 2021 in the United States Senate voted to condemn the Castro regime, and a huge majority of Democrats (181 out of 221 Democrats) voted to condemn the Castro regime on November 3, 2021.

There is a bipartisan majority consensus favoring a free Cuba in both the House and Senate.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) co-sponsored together with Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) a resolution expressing solidarity with Cuban citizens demonstrating peacefully for fundamental freedoms, condemning the Cuban regime’s acts of repression, and calling for the immediate release of arbitrarily detained Cuban citizens” and “work with Cuban activists, civil society groups, private United States companies, and the international community to expand internet access for the Cuban people.” The House passed the resolution in a 382-40 vote. 181 Democrats and 213 Republicans backed the resolution.

The Senate resolution was sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez, [D-NJ] and co-sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio [R-FL], Sen. Richard J. Durbin, [D-IL], Sen. James E. Risch, [R-ID], Sen. Tim Kaine [D-VA], Sen. Ted Cruz [R-TX], Sen. Brian Schatz [D-HI], Sen. Christopher A. Coons [D-DE], Sen. Cory A. Booker [D-NJ], Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto [D-NV], Sen. Sherrod Brown,[D-OH], Sen. Alex Padilla [D-CA], Sen. Mark R. Warner [D-VA], Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin [D-MD], Sen. Jacky Rosen [D-NV], Sen. Raphael G. Warnock, [D-GA], Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, [D-NM], Sen. Mitt Romney, [R-UT], Sen. Bill Hagerty, [R-TN] and Sen. Margaret Wood Hassan, [D-NH].

They unanimously resolved, that the Senate:

(1) expresses its strong solidarity with the people of Cuba in their desire to live in a free and democratic country with uncensored access to information, justice, and economic prosperity;
(2) condemns the violence ordered by Miguel Dıaz-Canel against peaceful protesters as violations of internationally recognized human rights that does nothing to address Cuba’s challenges;
(3) calls on Cuban forces:

(A) to respect the Cuban people’s exercise of freedom of assembly, freedom of expression,and other universal human rights;
(B) to refrain from restricting internet access and connectivity in the country; and
(C) to permit Cuban citizens to freely communicate on digital platforms, as is their fundamental right;

(4) calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all arbitrarily detained Cuban citizens and all Cuban political prisoners;
(5) calls on members of the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, the Cuban Ministry of the Interior, and Cuba’s National Revolutionary Police Force to refrain from violently repressing peaceful protesters and committing other human rights violations; and
(6) urges democratic governments and legislatures in Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean

(A) to pledge their support for freedom and democracy in Cuba; and
(B) to speak out against the repression of demonstrators in Cuba.

This consensus is also found across the Atlantic ocean in the European Parliament that in 2021 passed two strong resolutions condemning the Castro regime on June 10, 2021 and on September 16, 2021. In addition to condemning repression, and calling for the release of the arbitrarily detained, in the September resolution, European parliamentarians called for Magnitsky sanctions to be applied against Cuban officials involved in the violent crackdown on protesters during and in the aftermath of the 11J protests.

The dictatorship in Havana has mastered the art of misinformation and disinformation to cover up its own misdeeds, and to obtain foreign support to continue its repressive rule.

The Castro regime calls the United States economic embargo on Cuba a “blockade.” This is not true as the State Department (and U.S. – Cuba trade statistics over the past 20 years) demonstrate. The United States has porous economic sanctions with a focus on cutting off funds to the Castro military that controls most of the Cuban economy. A meme appeared on social media in 2021 in Spanish that outlined this reality, and Cuban scholar and journalist Carlos Alberto Montaner on July 15, 2021 gave a commentary on the blockade not prohibiting a series of economic measures that are proscribed by the Cuban government. Below is the translation of the above meme to English.

“The blockade does not prohibit fishermen in Cuba from fishing, the dictatorship does;
The blockade does not confiscate what farmers harvest, the dictatorship does;

The blockade does not prohibit Cubans on the island from doing business freely, the dictatorship does;
The blockade did not destroy every sugar mill, textile factory, shoe store, canning factory, the dictatorship did;

The blockade is not responsible for Cubans being paid with worthless pesos and stores sell you products with American dollars; the dictatorship is;

The blockade is not responsible that Cubans are beaten and imprisoned for thinking differently, the dictatorship is;

The blockade is not responsible that there are hundreds of Cuban political prisoners who have not committed any crime, the dictatorship is;

The blockade is not responsible for sending Cubans US dollars that they give to you in worthless pesos in the Western Union, the dictatorship is;

The blockade is not responsible for the dictatorship building hotels and the roofs that fall on Cubans’ heads, the dictatorship is;

The blockade is not responsible for hospitals in Cuba that are disgusting, the dictatorship is;

The blockade is not responsible for not having water in homes, for not maintaining the aqueduct system, the dictatorship is;”

The Center for a Free Cuba is highlighting the reality that it is not the U.S. embargo that the Castro regime calls a blockade, but the dictatorship’s communist controls that have created an internal blockade that is systematically harming Cubans. Today, we will be examining one of the claims made in the above meme on how the embargo “does not prohibit Cubans on the island from doing business freely, the dictatorship does.”

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) in a December 12, 2016 article claimed that “Cuba, a Model of Sustainable Agriculture Towards Global Food Security,” was due, in part, to the lack of commerce in agricultural machinery and blamed U.S. sanctions, but failed to mention Havana rejecting the opening of a tractor factory a month earlier..

In mid-February 2016, the Obama administration gave “its approval to the first American factory in Cuba in more than 50 years” and ABC News reported that “the move appears to have gained the support of the Cuban government as well.” Official communist publications, Granma and Juventud Rebelde, published stories praising the initiative. The US company, Cleber LLC, the first company with 100% North American capital, was going to set up operations in Mariel to assemble Oggún tractors, designed for small farmers to make land in Cuba more productive.

Ten months later in November 2016 Havana said no.

It turned out that one of the owners of the company that would set up the factory, Saul Berenthal, was a Cuban American, and in his enthusiasm, Mr. Berenthal had reclaimed his Cuban citizenship. This exposed the reality of the Castro regime’s internal blockade. Average Cubans living on the island are not allowed to make large investments into businesses, and this led to the deal being rejected.

Marc Frank of Reuters reported on August 10, 2010 that “in Cuba’s long-centralized agriculture system, farmers must produce certain crops or livestock to sell back to the state at fixed prices in exchange for state-assigned supplies.” In the same article he divulged how “farmers and consumers complain the cumbersome system sometimes results in rotting crops and farmers going without timely supplies of animal feed, pesticides and fertilizer.” 

Cuban nationals cannot independently invest in Cuba and set up mid-scale or large-scale businesses. Cuban farmers cannot sell their harvest directly to other Cubans. This is the source of the economic disaster in Cuba, and it is the fault of communist ideology put into practice, not U.S. sanctions.

Sanctions are not the problem in Cuba; the Castro dictatorship is. However, sanctions properly applied and in conjunction with nonviolent citizen action may be the solution.

The Washington Times, December 27, 2021

Democrats who praised Castro regime lack credibility on Cuba sanctions

The four leading the charge against U.S. sanctions are cozy with regime officials

By Editorial Board – The Washington Times – Monday, December 27, 2021


Two weeks ago, 114 Democratic Congressional representatives signed a letter to President Biden asking his administration to reverse sanctions against Cuba’s communist regime. Although many Democrats cling to former President Barack Obama’s Cuba thaw policies by opposing such sanctions, not all of them have a history with Cuba’s leaders like the letter’s four leading signatories — U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee, Bobby Rush, James McGovern and Gregory Meeks.

All four of these members of Congress have personally visited Cuba and met with its high-ranking leaders as part of an ongoing effort to build a bridge between the U.S. and its brutal communist military dictatorship. Three of them have offered praise to Castro regime officials. 

Ms. Lee, who, as early as of 2018, boasted on her congressional website she had visited Cuba more than two dozen times in the past four decades, also exchanged public praise with deceased dictator Fidel Castro since she first visited the island in 1977. In a 2009 memo, “Reflections by Comrade Fidel,” Castro said there was “unbeatable proof” of Ms. Lee’s “moral courage,” for casting “the sole vote against Bush’s genocidal war in Iraq.” In 1984, former U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick criticized her as someone who “always blames America first.”

In 2016, when Castro died, Ms. Lee offered her condolences, saying, “We need to stop and pause and mourn his loss,” adding, “I was very sad for the Cuban people. He led a revolution that led social improvements for his people.” Ms. Lee’s signatory allies, Reps. Gregory Meeks, Bobby Rush and James McGovern have also visited Cuba and met with high-ranking communist officials. 

Mr. Rush, who personally met both Castro brothers with Ms. Lee in 2009, compared America to the Cuban dictatorship, “I’m a person who can bear witness to significant human rights violations right here in America. In my own state, there is strong, convincing evidence that there were people on death row who were tortured.” After meeting with Castro, he said, “It was almost like listening to an old friend.”

Mr. McGovern has made similar comparisons. In 2016, was quoted by the Worcester Sun as saying, “They all complain about the lack of democracy in Cuba. I’m concerned about the lack of democracy in Congress.” 

A Dec. 14 press release published by the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, which Mr. Meeks chairs, says the four representatives led a call for “human rights and humanitarian aid in Cuba,” yet the letter says nothing of the hundreds of democracy activists — including ailing minors between the ages of 14-17 — languishing in cells as political prisoners from the July 11 uprising that called for regime change. Mr. Meeks accompanied Mr. Obama to Cuba in 2016 when he met with former President Raul Castro.

The American people are no stranger to Democrats’ call to end sanctions against Cuba’s communist military dictatorship. However, few of them are probably aware of the personal interaction those leading the charge have developed with the regime’s leadership, their bizarre criticism of America and their apparent sympathy for the Castro regime. This raises serious questions about their judgment and objectivity. 

Cuba is a communist military dictatorship that has engaged in the oppression and torture of its people. Contrary to these Democrats’ false assertions, the Cuban people don’t want the U.S. to engage with their oppressors. They have repeatedly made it clear — never more so than now, as evidenced by the July 11 uprising in which cries for freedom were recorded — they want complete eradication of the communist regime.

The Democratic legislators pushing for the warming of relations with Cuba’s dictatorship are not helping the Cuban people reach their goal of flourishing under democracy. They are encouraging their oppressors’ determination to remain in power and continue what is nothing short of a legacy of cruelty.