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Editorial: Support the Cuban people? Then fight the blockade

CUBA solidarity activists outnumbered supporters of the US-backed global day of anti-socialist protests many times over outside the country’s London embassy today.

As Cuba Solidarity Campaign director Rob Miller pointed out, this reflects the situation internationally and in Cuba itself, where protests over shortages in July were rapidly exploited by the US-orchestrated “Cuba SOS” campaign to flood Western media with anti-Cuba propaganda. 

US politicians hastened to pledge support for their country’s criminal blockade of the socialist island, while Miami Mayor Francis Suarez was quick to demand air raids in the finest tradition of what Henry Kissinger termed “humanitarian bombing” — acts of war aimed at forcing other countries to submit to US wishes.

Yet, within days, rallies of millions took place to defend the Cuban revolution against foreign attack. This reality has been obscured by most Western media, just as the giant rallies in defence of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela in 2017 and 2019 were ignored. They did not suit the narrative the owners of our papers and broadcasters wished to spin: that these countries are poor because they are socialist, that their governments lack legitimacy and that their peoples yearn for the embrace of capitalism.

The truth is rather different. US president Richard Nixon famously responded to the election of Salvador Allende’s Marxist government in Chile with the order to “make the economy scream.”

Economic war was declared, aimed at impoverishing Chile and undermining support for its president. Whether it would have brought down the socialist government on its own is unknown, since the US got impatient and sponsored the bloody coup by General Pinochet in 1973. What we do know is that Washington deploys all weapons at its disposal to bring down troublesome governments. 

And Cuba – itself the victim of multiple acts of terror planned and launched from the United States, from the bombing of Cubana de Aviacion flight 455 that killed all 73 passengers and workers on board, to the endless attempts to murder its president Fidel Castro, to the original armed invasion at the Bay of Pigs – has been battling the US determination to “make its economy scream” for six full decades.

If shortages caused discontent this summer, whose fault is that? It is the United States whose blockade of the island – condemned annually by near-unanimous votes at the general assembly of the United Nations – cuts off essential supplies. 

US determination to break the Cuban people extended to it blocking a shipment of medical supplies from China at the height of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in spring last year. Not the act of a government concerned about the welfare of ordinary Cubans, whatever two-faced rhetoric emanates from the White House.

The US blockade is an assault on Cuban sovereignty. But it is more. It is an offence to the independence of every country in the world. British companies, French companies, German companies face crippling financial penalties if they dare trade with Cuba, though all their governments are officially opposed to the blockade. 

US policy is an extraterritorial assertion of Washington’s right to determine how and on what terms other countries trade between themselves. 

It shames our government that it does not take stronger action against this, especially since it was happy to express its gratitude to Cuba last spring when a Covid-infected cruise voyage carrying British citizens was stranded in the Caribbean, shunned by other countries as a plague ship and refused permission to dock. It was Cuba that let the MS Braemar in and arranged for its passengers to travel home.

The absurd international “protests” against Cuba orchestrated by the US today and tomorrow do not speak for the people of Cuba, or the people of this country. 

Friends of Cuba do not back the blockade. The US must be told that its pretence of concern for Cubans’ welfare fools no-one while that blockade continues.

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