Let Cuba Live and Free Us From the Mainstream Media Narrative

by on July 30, 2021 · 9 comments

in American Empire, World News

The San Diego Union-Tribune of late has been running numerous op-eds about the current plight of the Cuban people and even how the US must intervene. The ferocity of these one-sided rants makes it seem like the old Cold War has reignited. And calls for the Biden administration to militarily intervene are stark reminders that the official policy of this government has been to squelch the efforts by Cubans to have their own country ever since the revolution began 22 years ago.

Well, there is a different reality out there other than the narrative propagated by the mainstream media. Here are views you won’t find in the U-T:

Full-Page Ad in the New York Times, July 23, 2021:

Dear President Joe Biden,

It is time to take a new path forward in U.S.-Cuban relations. We, the undersigned, are making this urgent, public appeal to you to reject the cruel policies put into place by the Trump White House that have created so much suffering among the Cuban people.

Cuba – a country of eleven million people – is living through a difficult crisis due to the growing scarcity of food and medicine. Recent protests have drawn the world’s attention to this. While the Covid-19 pandemic has proven challenging for all countries, it has been even more so for a small island under the heavy weight of an economic embargo.

We find it unconscionable, especially during a pandemic, to intentionally block remittances and Cuba’s use of global financial institutions, given that access to dollars is necessary for the importation of food and medicine.

As the pandemic struck the island, its people – and their government – lost billions in revenue from international tourism that would normally go to their public health care system, food distribution and economic relief.

During the pandemic, Donald Trump’s administration tightened the embargo, pushed aside the Obama opening, and put in place 243 “coercive measures” that have intentionally throttled life on the island and created more suffering.

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.

“We stand with the Cuban people,” you wrote on July 12. If that is the case, we ask you to immediately sign an executive order and annul Trump’s 243 “coercive measures.”

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. Instead of maintaining the path set by Trump in his efforts to undo President Obama’s opening to Cuba, we call on you to move forward. Resume the opening and begin the process of ending the embargo. Ending the severe shortages in food and medicine must be the top priority.

On 23 June, most of the member states of the United Nations voted to ask the U.S. to end the embargo. For the past 30 years this has been the consistent position of a majority of member states. In addition, seven UN Special Rapporteurs wrote a letter to the U.S. government in April 2020 regarding the sanctions on Cuba. “In the pandemic emergency,” they wrote, “the lack of will of the U.S. government to suspend sanctions may lead to a higher risk of suffering in Cuba.”

We ask you to end the Trump “coercive measures” and return to the Obama opening or, even better, begin the process of ending the embargo and fully normalizing relations between the United States and Cuba.


Let Cuba Live

by Manolo De Los Santos and Vijay Prashad / People’s Dispatch / July 28, 2021

On July 23, a full-page statement appeared on page 5 of the New York Times under the headline, “Let Cuba Live.” The advertisement, paid for by the Peoples Forum, was signed by more than 400 prominent people including Susan Sarandon, Emma Thompson, Noam Chomsky, Oliver Stone, Mark Ruffalo, Jane Fonda, and Danny Glover. It was an open letter to Biden asking him to end Trump’s “coercive measures” and “begin the process of ending the embargo.”

Most of the 193 member states of the United Nations made public statements to defend Cuba against the “maximum pressure” campaign. In a statement, the 120 members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) “strongly condemn[ed] the international campaign organized… with the purpose of destabilizing the Republic of Cuba.” The NAM called for an end to the US blockade.

The White House has so far responded neither to the open letter nor to the NAM statement.

For the balance of this article and for its links, go here.


A plea for freedom from the media narrative on Cuba

Since the beginning of protests in Cuba, the US corporate media have been peddling false narratives and outright lies about the country.

By Belen Fernandez / Aljazeera / July 29, 2021

In the wake of this month’s protests in Cuba over food and medicine shortages and other complaints, the New York-based magazine Travel + Leisure ran an item titled “4 Ways to Help the People of Cuba Right Now”.

First on the list is “asking the US for humanitarian intervention” in order to “help alleviate the dire situation citizens are in”. Never mind that Cuba’s dire situation has just about everything to do with United States interference in the first place – particularly the six-decades-long blockade that, under international law, technically qualifies as an act of war – or that magazines called Travel + Leisure should perhaps stick to the subjects at hand rather than serving as conduits for imperial propaganda.

The fourth suggestion on the list is to “drink some Cuba libres in Miami”, the unofficial capital of right-wing Cuban exiles. The name “Cuba libre”, which literally means “free Cuba” and generally involves rum and Coca-Cola, evokes nostalgia for the good old days when the island existed blissfully under a brutal US-backed dictatorship.

But the problem extends far beyond Travel + Leisure. The US corporate media as a whole have been less than serious in their coverage of recent events in Cuba – to the extent that many outlets have deceitfully published images of pro-government demonstrations cast as the opposite.

Propelled by the “#SOSCuba” hashtag, The New York Times and other usual suspects rushed to report, aghast, on a Cuban security crackdown in response to the protests, characterised by the jailing of dissidents and alleged human rights violations. While such critiques are not in and of themselves invalid, they would surely hold more moral traction were they not issued by the media mouthpieces of a country that has long operated an illegal prison-cum-torture centre on Cuban soil.

Although mainstream articles do often mention US sanctions, they almost never convey their comprehensively asphyxiating nature – context without which none of Cuba’s contemporary history can begin to be understood. It would be like reporting the spontaneous collapse of buildings across Mexico City on September 19, 1985 – without mentioning that there had been a magnitude 8.1 earthquake.

Among the outlets peddling straight-up lies is Newsweek, where one Cathy Young contends that “blaming Cuba’s economic woes on the US is ludicrous” and that the effects of the embargo were “always limited by the fact that no other countries joined in”.

For the balance of this article, please go here.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Frances O'Neill Zimmerman July 30, 2021 at 3:17 pm

Good we get to read the NYT ad on behalf of Cuba and the other two essays. Much better ideas than military invasion or nuclear eradication. Thanks for sharing.

It is unconscionable that Joe Biden has not released at least the Trump stranglehold on Cuba, whose long-suffering citizens recently hit the streets because they have had enough austerity at the hands of their own (newish) government and the ever-punitive overlord USA.

Centrist Biden is lily-livered about ending the Cuban embargo because of Florida politics and worries over losing his slim electoral majority in Congress. He figures a hard-line on Cuba may win him some corporate favors. There’s so much domestic turmoil here that Cuba Libre is unlikely to get the attention it might otherwise deserve. But keeping Trump’s Cuba policies in place is inhumane and unforgivable.


Chris August 1, 2021 at 4:43 am

While the sanctions are main cause of the economic suffering on the island, their own citizens are being criminally prosecuted for protesting:https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/29/americas/cuba-protests-mass-trials-cmd-intl/index.html
I don’t know what the solution is but we DO need to remember the Cuban government IS an autocracy. The Cuban revolution was one bad thing being taken over by another.


Frank Gormlie August 1, 2021 at 7:22 am

Sorry, Chris, you’ve got it backwards. You’ve bought into 70 years of mainstream media and rightwing narrative. The Cuban revolution was tremendous for human liberation. And ever since, the US has been trying to undermine it. Why? If they are so immaterial a society? There are riots, demos and people arrested and killed in a dozen countries right now, so why are we so hellbent in turning back the clock for Cubans. Gee, where else are citizens prosecuted for protesting?


Chris August 1, 2021 at 11:25 am

I disagree. Human liberation or not, Cuba is still an authoritarian one part dictatorship. As i see it personally, it’s their country and they should do whatever they want. Keeping the sanctions going wont change anything so I agree it’s time to end them. That being said, I’ve known quite a few Cuban expats in my lifetime and it’s safe to say they all would have strong disagreements with you on this. Even those who lean left.


sealintheSelkirks August 1, 2021 at 1:16 pm

My post didn’t load and I hadn’t saved it before it disappeared (it didn’t show pop back up saying ‘under moderation’). So I’m trying again today.

Note: it did not go into moderation again so this is 2nd try today.

The title of the following article is exactly what’s wrong here with the pro-coup overthrow Cuba responses. So what, we’re going to bring back the Cuban murdering dictator Batista? With the US history of overthrowing any country that doesn’t toe the US MIC Empire line I guess some people haven’t learned a single thing from history, or is completely ignorant of it.
We just lost another war we started, and are still bombing the crap out of people who NEVER attacked the US. History is replete with these examples.

Including the US brutal blockades and sanctions which truly only affect the masses. I mean, not allowing Cuba NEEDLES to import for Covid vaccinations??? There’s something really stinking of dead fish about that concept.

And don’t you just love Rubio’s little statement that is in this article? Free and fair elections? Bluntly, the US should be required to host international monitors of OUR corporate cash-infused elections because we certainly are in need according to ex-President Jimmy Carter. Read his statement to the European Union a while back about what he’s seen in his years of being an international monitor around the world and weep…

The US Has No Business Lecturing Cuba About “Free and Fair” Elections


110’F yesterday, 111’F the day before, 109’F Thursday, lightning possible today in the driest forest conditions ever recorded.



Chris August 2, 2021 at 10:57 am

As I made clear, I DON’T support U.S. sanctions. Yes Batista was a murdering thug but so was Castro. I repeat, one bad thing taking over another, liberation or not. That’s just a fact. Whether or not the U.S. should get involved in how Cuba runs their elections is a whole topic on its own but one can still morally support the Cuban population’s efforts to demand change from a Communist regime without supporting sanctions or even U.S involvement. It’s not an either or for Cuba to remain the kind of government that it currently is or go back to how things were under Batista. Also one doesn’t have to support right wing politicians here at home like Rubio either to still hope for Cuba to turn into a Democracy. It’s not a contradiction. The Counterpunch article is kind of joke because we still have a much closer to free and fair elections than Cuba. The examples given do not change that. I’ll repeat one more time, I still do not support the sanctions but it’s not this way or that way with no in between. While we have no business telling another country how to run their elections, to say our elections (as flawed as they may be) is no better than theirs is absurd.


Frank Gormlie August 2, 2021 at 3:21 pm

Chris, you’ve clarified your position and made some good points. One thing that has to be said. American politics have been changing. The US used to be the the most “anti-socialist” country and used the old Cold War policies to staunch anything positive in Cuba. Then, zoom to the 2016 and 2020 elections, and we have Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist, coming in second in the primaries. Sanders made “socialist” a positive household word. That ol’ red-scare bullshit was trashed by an entire generation. So, let’s not let it return with this ramped-up ‘go-get-em’ rage.


Chris August 2, 2021 at 5:58 pm

Frank I know you know Socialism does not = Communism. Socialism comes in many different types and degrees. Communism being the most extreme. Unlike what many of our most right wing politicians and talk show warriors would have you believe, Sanders was was not and is not out to eliminate Capitalism, nor turn us into a one party autocratic system.


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