Let Cubans Live in Freedom: Setting the record straight on Code Pink falsehoods


Setting the record straight on Code Pink falsehoods

Center for a Free Cuba. Washington DC. July 23, 2021 – In the ad released today by Code Pink it is siding with the repressive dictatorship of Cuba’s abuses against the people of Cuba. CFC sides with the Cuban people, who have been repressed for six decades by the only political party allowed, the Communist Party.

“Left out of the ad is the fact that Cuba has no free or independent trade unions, newspapers, radio or television stations, civic associations, nor does the population have any other avenue to express its disgust with its government than by protesting in the streets,” said John Suarez, executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba.

The result of six decades of stifling oppression, human rights abuses, and failed communist central planning was the nation-wide uprising of July 11th. It was spontaneous, and Cubans of all races participated. The cry of the tens of thousands across Cuba was for “Libertad” – Liberty! Not “Lift the Embargo.”

Last week the Cuban government that Codepink asks President Biden to “Let Live” unleashed a brutal wave of beatings, disappearances of citizens, jailings, and extrajudicial executions that are akin to the worst ever carried out by other totalitarian regimes in the past.

The Cuban people know that the scarcities that Codepink falsely attributes to the limited US embargo are the result of 62 years of Marxist-Leninist rule. It is their own government that Cubans asked to be changed, not US policy. Cuba trades with the rest of the world, and the US is one of the largest providers of food to the island. Havana cannot buy more from abroad because the ruling elites have stolen or wasted the money, and price gouge Cubans with the products imported.

Many of the signatories are well-known sympathizers of communist dictatorships; in the case of the “former heads of state” they include convicted or indicted former presidents charged with massive corruption and abuse of power.

The Center is releasing the below statement and fact sheet to set the record straight.

Let Cubans Live in Freedom

Code Pink has published a misleading full page advertisement in The New York Times that while pretending to address humanitarian concerns backs the dictatorship in Cuba when it falsely claims that the United States is responsible for the growing scarcity of food and medicine, but fails to mention the internal blockade imposed by the Castro regime on Cubans. Over 23,000 Cubans have signed a petition calling for the end of the Castro dictatorship’s internal blockade on the Cuban people. They also claim that Cuba is not a threat, but fail to mention harm done to 40 U.S. diplomats, and over a dozen Canadian diplomats stationed in Havana, or the repressive role Cuban soldiers and spies are playing today in Venezuela and Nicaragua against civilians. The Center for a Free Cuba has prepared the following fact sheet challenging the main claims made by Code Pink.


1. FALSE CLAIM: “The prohibition on remittances and the end of direct commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba are impediments to the wellbeing of a majority of Cuban families.”

FACTS: Remittances continue to be sent from the United States. It is the Castro regime that shut down travel between the U.S. and Cuba, and five other countries to cripple Cuba’s black market creating great hardships in the population. Castro regime price gouges Cubans.

A. Remittances continue to be sent from the United States to Cuba from agencies in the United States, but not through Western Union. Western Union’s alliance with Fincimex – one of GAESA’s subsidiaries –managed all the operations to transfer money to Cuba. GAESA is a consortium of military companies that dominates the Cuban economy. U.S. policy is not to do business with the Cuban military and intelligence apparatus due to their repressive nature. “In 2017, the State Department issued a list of restricted Cuban entities (referred to as the “Cuba restricted list”) affiliated with the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services with which direct financial transactions would disproportionately benefit such services at the expense of the Cuban people or private enterprise in Cuba.” Sources: Congressional Research Service, May 11, 2021, Cuba Sanctions FAQ Treasury Department

B. It was the Castro regime that ended most direct commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba and between Cuba and Mexico, Panama, the Bahamas, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic on January 1, 2021 under the false pretext of COVID-19 to shut down the Cuban black market that supplied Cubans with food and medicine. Meanwhile, kept travel open to Russia and India that are causing a worsening of the pandemic in the island.

Code Pink fails to mention that “the end of direct commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba” was a unilateral decision of the Cuban government, and extended beyond the United States impacting Cubans negatively. On December 28, 2020 Cuba’s Ministry of Health announced that “taking into account the actual national, regional and international epidemiological situation they had decided to reduce the entry of travelers from the United States, Mexico, Panama, the Bahamas, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.” The measure was made effective on January 1, 2021. Direct commercial flights between Cuba and six countries that provided Cuban mules avenues to bring in food and medicine were dramatically reduced by the dictatorship using the pandemic as a pretext. But the Cuban government’s own data showed another reality. Panama, the Bahamas, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic did not appear among the top 10 countries causing the spread of the pandemic in Cuba. However both Russia and India that have caused more spread of COVID-19 in Cuba remain open for travel and tourism. This was because these tourists didn’t stay with relatives but in hotels owned by the Cuban military and its conglomerate GAESA providing more hard currency to the dictatorship. Sources: Ministerio de Salud Pública de Cuba, December 28, 2020, Inventario, December 28, 2020

C: U.S. Agricultural businesses in the first five months of 2021 have exported $134.3 million dollars in goods to Cuba. The number one seller of chicken to the Castro regime are agricultural businesses in the United States. These companies sell the chicken to Cuba at $1 per kilogram and the communist apparatchiks mark it up and sell it to Cubans at $7 per kilo despite Cubans on average making less than $600 per year. Total U.S. exports to Cuba since 2000 are over six billion dollars. The problem is not U.S. sanctions but the internal blockade placed on Cubans by the dictatorship. Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, 14ymedio, June 22, 2021

2. FALSE CLAIM: “There is no reason to maintain the Cold War politics that required the U.S. to treat Cuba as an existential enemy rather than a neighbor.”

FACTS: The Cold War is over but someone needs to tell the Castro regime. Cuban soldiers and spies carrying out repression in Venezuela and Nicaragua today.

A. Beginning in November 2016, months after President Obama’s March 2016 state visit to Cuba, 40 U.S. diplomats and over 12 Canadian diplomats began suffering brain damage reflected in a range of symptoms including “balance issues, ringing in their ears and memory loss.” This has come to be called the “Havana Syndrome” and is believed to be caused by a weapon developed by the Russians. Source: NPR October 27, 2020

B. Cuban soldiers and intelligence agents are active in carrying out repression in Venezuela today. The Prague-based CASLA Institute in its 2021 report “Venezuela: Crimes Against Humanity, Systematic Repression and Torture, Responsibility of the Cuban regime” presented testimonies they obtained in 2020 from Venezuelan civilian and military witnesses who were tortured by Cuban officers present in Venezuela. A rape was also reported. Source: Tamara Suju CASLA Institute, 2021.

C. Cuban soldiers and intelligence agents are active in carrying out repression today in Nicaragua. “Cuban strategists are capable of neutralizing internal dissidents in the most brutal way and maintaining the dual Ortega-Murillo dictatorship,” said Jorge Serrano, an academic at the Peruvian Center for Higher National Studies.“Cuba deploys political and military intelligence and counterintelligence advisers in military bases and in key situations for political and economic power in Nicaragua,” Source: Julieta Pelcastre / Diálogo August 10, 2019