Days before Americans caught on to the protests in Cuba there was something else happening. On social media, many Cubans began a movement seeking assistance to acquire medical supplies and help in battling an uncontrolled COVID outbreak on the island. The groups began organizing to collect medicinal donations and funding to assist Cubans on the ground as they awaited a response from the international community.

Prior to American awareness of street protests in Cuba

Clear from the get-go was the reluctance to extend a helping hand after Trump’s economic sanctions and his declaring Cuba a terrorist state. Any countries or corporations that do business with Cuba do so at the risk of being sanctioned. The embargos on Cuba also prevent it from buying food and medical supplies on credit — forcing the nation to pay in cash, upfront, for basic necessities. After Cuba’s economy collapsed (due to more than 200 sanctions put in place by Trump’s policies), things became dire as Cuba lacked the cash or the Obama-era trade agreements they had relied on for supplies.

As the movement seeking assistance began to go viral and garner attention on WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, Cubans in the U.S. began to immediately politicize it as an uprising against the communist regime. It wasn’t long before we began to see the near-constant bad takes on the protests by members of the political right. Some are so tone-deaf they declared that the protests were against forced vaccinations —just as Cubans were screaming for help in vaccine distribution.

As awareness grew, emphasis on the need for assistance

It seemed like it took only minutes for the narrative to change into one with political motivations resulting in those seeking help being drowned out. Since then, we’ve even come to hear the prominent Cuban-American mayor of Miami suggest bombing the island. An absurd statement that would result in the loss of innocent lives. Many Americanized Cubans consistently fail to acknowledge the plight of the people on the island and are concerned only with being right about socialism. Miami’s mayor epitomizes that narrow politically extremist view so many in the U.S. harbor.

Because of this vitriol, I published an article with Latino Rebels that spoke to the myriad issues involved when it comes to discussion on Cuba. Something many Americanized Cubans want us to overlook. It’s just not simple. Cubans in the U.S. largely represent one singular view in Cuban politics. Americans aren’t aware of dissenting views because U.S. media only covers Americanized Cubans attacking Cuba. A tactic as old as the initial blockades.

Cubans Need Help

Despite what Cubans in the United States are saying, none of it matters if Cuba doesn’t get the assistance they need. Yes, the oppressive regime and system of government need to go — for all of you, “you won’t denounce communism” hicks — but that’s not what’s at issue here. Some want the U.S. to invade Cuba overlooking the risks with such an incursion. Must I continue to remind people that Cuba is seeing more than 6,000 new cases of COVID every day? Sheesh!

News breaking in the U.S. about street protests in Cuba

Cuba’s crumbling infrastructure, its outdated economic structure, and the high level of corruption in the government are all made exponentially worse by the sanctions placed on the island. Many are on social media treating the hundreds of sanctions as a singular issue they often refer to as an embargo. But doing so ignores the complexities of the sanctions. The worst of which requires Cuba to pay cash for food and medical equipment upfront. Do the math, people. Cuba is a poor country.

It’s intellectually dishonest to simply say it’s the dictatorship’s fault or the embargo’s fault. We all know that embargos don’t hurt despotic leaders, they hurt the people. The whole idea of using sanctions is based on throwing the people into such dire situations that it would eventually lead to an uprising against the government. That hasn’t worked in Cuba for six decades. It’s past time for a new strategy. One that doesn’t involve isolating millions of Cubans from the rest of the world. I assure you, Cubans will not go to war with each other for American interests.

An analysis of over 2 million tweets using the #SOSCuba hashtag

If you want to have a conversation about liberating Cuba, fine. But Cubans need dialogue, not American politics. Cubans on the island largely despise the United States regardless of their politics. They’ve seen what liberating a country looks like. From Vietnam and Libya to Iraq and Afghanistan. What seems obvious to everyone except Americanized Cubans is that Cubans on the island prefer what they have to U.S. intervention. I’m not saying everyone in Cuba supports the Cuban government.

I’m saying they loathe American corporate imperialism more.

However, there is no point in discussing liberation when so many are being ravaged by COVID and Cuba isn’t getting the resources they need. As of this writing, Mexico is alone in heeding the call for assistance. A sad testament to the damage being done by American political interests who refuse to address the matter and have chosen to propagandize the call for help with their own political narrative. Some, such as Marco Rubio have chosen to fundraise off of it. He’s not sending money to Cuba. He’s using it for his reelection campaign.

Frankly, it’s disgusting.

Seeking assistance using the #HumanitarianCorridor hashtag

It’s time to shift the focus back to the needs of the Cuban people.

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Arturo Dominguez

Arturo is an anti-racist political nerd. He is an upcoming author, journalist, advocate for social justice, and a married father of three. He is a top writer on Medium and a regular contributor to several news media outlets. He writes educational and informative material about systemic racism, white supremacy, and racial injustice.

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