Press release: While Cubans rise up ridiculing the Cuban dictatorship’s discourse on “the blockade” and endure prison, the DC City Council approves a resolution repeating Cuban govt propaganda.

Press Release

While Cubans rise up ridiculing the Cuban dictatorship’s discourse on “the blockade” and endure brutal beatings and prison, the DC City Council approves a resolution repeating Cuban government propaganda.

Contact: Janisset Rivero (786) 208-6056 and John Suarez  (612) -367-6845

Center for a Free Cuba. May 18, 2023. Washington DC. The District of Columbia City Council has approved a resolution calling for the end of U.S. economic sanctions against the Cuban regime, and removing it from the list of supporters of terrorism. The Council is the legislative body of the US capital. The Resolution has many errors of fact, and it confuses the Cuban people with the Cuban dictatorship.

Resolution PR25-0113 “Sense of the Council on the Restoration of Cuban American Relations Resolution of 2023” was approved yesterday, Tuesday May 16, 2023 “to declare the sense of the Council that the United States s should end the economic blockade of Cuba and remove Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list due to the unjust harm it causes the Cuban people.” (https://fastdemocracy.com/bill-search/dc/25/bills/DCB00019732/).

Tens of thousands of Cubans took to the streets in Cuba demanding freedom and human rights in July 2021. Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel gave an order of combat, and the agents of the dictatorship beat down, shot and killed nonviolent protesters. Cuban artist Diubis Laurencio Tejeda was shot in the back and killed by officials. Christian Díaz was beaten to death by regime agents. They were not mentioned in the resolution.

Over a thousand of the demonstrators remain jailed, including children. Their names are not mentioned. On May 6, 2023 in the town of Caimanera, located in Guantanamo, Cuba hundreds of Cubans took to the street calling for freedom, human rights, and one of the protesters said on camera:  “We want food, we don’t want more speeches. there is no [U.S.] blockade.” The Cuban government’s response? Shutdown the internet across the island and send out “black beret” shock troops to beat down demonstrators, and six young men were taken prisoner. Their names are not mentioned.

“This resolution’s approval occurs while repression in Cuba is increasing and five more young Cubans (the Guantanamo Five), already detained, are facing an imminent political trial in which they will join over a thousand of their compatriots unjustly imprisoned for speaking truth to power. Their names are Yandris Pelier Matos, the brothers Felipe Correa Martínez and Luis Miguel Alarcón Martínez, and the brothers Rodi Álvarez González and Daniel Álvarez González. The crisis in Cuba is not due to U.S. sanctions, but rather the systematic denial of human rights, communist central planning hostile to free markets, and a 64 year old dictatorship”, said executive director John Suarez, who added “lamentably this resolution helps the Cuban dictatorship, and to the degree it empowers the regime, it harms the Cuban people.”

The Center for a Free Cuba on the same day the resolution was passed tweeted a thread to the DC City Council members who backed it, and called attention to a number of errors in the document.

( https://twitter.com/cubacenter/status/1658655451599208448). Some of the most egregious claims are rebutted below.

There is no “blockade” on Cuba, but economic sanctions that target the Cuban military and the intelligence apparatus that exist to repress Cubans.  Since 2000, U.S. businesses have traded with the Cuban dictatorship, selling billions to Havana.  Havana buys chicken from producers in the United States. The regime sells that chicken to Cubans at a marked-up rate, sometimes at double the cost, and uses the profit to fund repression.

The resolution mentioned Mr. Obama’s thaw with Raul Castro but failed to mention that on January 2, 2017 Cuban troops marched in a parade Raul Castro presided over chanting they would repeatedly shoot Mr. Obama in the head so many times that they’d make a “hat of lead to the head.”  Nor the new phenomenon of U.S. and Canadian diplomats suffering neurological damage while posted in Havana that started in 2016.

 This resolution claims that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not provide evidence to support claims that Havana was sponsoring terrorism. This is not true. The State Department on January 11, 2021 cited two reasons for Cuba’s return to the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism in a press release that is still available online: (https://cu.usembassy.gov/u-s-announces-designation-of-cuba-as-a-state-sponsor-of-terrorism/).

 

1) “Cuba’s refusal to honor “Colombia’s requests to extradite ten ELN leaders living in Havana after the group claimed responsibility for the January 2019 bombing of a Bogota police academy that killed 22 people and injured more than 87 others.”

2) “Cuba also harbors several U.S. fugitives from justice wanted on or convicted of charges of political violence, many of whom have resided in Cuba for decades.” 

The resolution claims that “vital medical equipment is in short supply, and humanitarian assistance following catastrophic events, such as hurricanes, is often impeded due to these harmful policies.” 

Cuba has a two tiered healthcare system. One that is found, for example, at Calixto Garcia Hospital which lacks basic hygiene, equipment, and supplies that is what most Cubans experience. A second tier for tourists with hard currency and regime elites that are fully equipped and offer cosmetic surgery, open heart surgery, oncology treatments, and many others unavailable to poor Cubans, but advertised world wide indicates that medical equipment is not in short supply, but rationed to those who can pay.

It is the Cuban government, not U.S. policy, that has blocked, confiscated, and sold humanitarian assistance following hurricanes.  The Center has explicitly called for foreign hotels in Cuba to open their doors to homeless Cubans following Hurricane Ian, but were met with silence. They have to partner with the dictatorship to operate in Cuba, and such humanitarian initiatives are vetoed by tthe dictatorship. While the Cuban military, which controls the economy in Cuba, engages in a building boom of luxury hotels, Cubans cannot obtain materials to rebuild their damaged homes.

During the height of the pandemic in 2020, members of the Cuban diaspora led by Rosa Maria Paya carried out a collection of humanitarian assistance for Cubans in need to be distributed by religious groups in the island. The humanitarian aid reached a port in Cuba, and was confiscated by the Cuban government, and it never reached the Cuban people.

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