This past weekend, on Sunday, July 11, there were apparently some minor anti-government protests in Cuba by pro-U.S. elements. The disturbances were quickly outnumbered by supporters of the Cuban Revolution who went into the streets. President Miguel Diaz-Canel spoke to the nation, declaring that Cuba would “not allow any sold-out counterrevolutionary who receives money from U.S. agencies to provoke destabilization.”
While the demonstrations appeared to lack any level of broad support, they were enough to have anti-communists in the U.S. government fantasizing aloud about Cuba returning to the capitalist U.S. puppet state that it was before the Cuban Revolution.
One particularly egregious example was Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a Republican from Florida’s 32nd Congressional District. In a move that blatantly pandered to the local reactionary voting base, Sabatini tweeted a call for the people of Cuba to rise up in rebellion and execute the government officials that stand in the way of turning Cuba into a U.S. satellite.
“High-ranking communist officials in Cuba should be given an ultimatum now: Either immediately assist in the transition of government away from communism or be prosecuted and executed thereafter.”
It’s honestly hard to imagine a reverse situation, in which a foreign government official publicly calls for Americans to rise up and kill U.S. government officials. Such conduct is simply not done. If some member of a foreign parliament ever behaved in such a childish, irresponsible, and quite frankly idiotic way, I am sure the U.S. State Department would be calling for that parliamentarian to be sanctioned and punished.
Beyond basic diplomatic decorum, making such statements about another country is not in any way the jurisdiction of some random two-term Congressman from Florida. Despite what Florida Republicans (and too many Democrats) would have us believe, the U.S. and Cuba are not at war. Cuba has never attacked the U.S. and has never expressed any interest in attacking the U.S. In fact, it is the U.S. that has repeatedly been a threat to Cuba.
From the moment the Cuban revolutionary government was established following the overthrow of the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship in 1959, the U.S. has done everything it can to punish Cuba for having the audacity to choose its own path while being 90 miles from the U.S. coast. From incidents as well known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion to countless attempts to assassinate the late Cuban President Fidel Castro, and from sabotaging food supplies to maintaining the most crippling illegal economic blockade in world history, the U.S. has never ceased being a threat to Cuba. Over the same period, Cuba has never once threatened the U.S.
Then why is it that Rep. Sabatini feels it is permissible for him to call for the execution of Cuban government officials? If the Democratic Party leaders in the House had any sense of principles and decency, they would drag Sabatini before the Ethics Committee and punish him for this unacceptable and reckless behavior. Yet, so far, there has been nothing but crickets from anyone in the House of Representatives about Sabatini’s behavior.
There are two main reasons such horrid behavior is permitted vis-a-vis Cuba. The first is that Florida is an important swing state in U.S. elections. Pandering to the reactionary right-wing Cuban exile demographic there is a go-to election strategy for both U.S. political parties. Given this, basic decency, decorum, and humanity are thrown out the window in the name of winning elections.
The second reason such language is permitted is the almost universally-held rabid, anti-communist attitude of U.S. political and economic elites. Those with holdover Cold War attitudes still carry the embarrassment that a communist-led government exists in what they feel is their rightful sphere of influence. To the powerful in U.S. circles, Cuba is not a real country and therefore does not deserve to be treated the same way other countries are treated. To them, Cuba is viewed almost as a breakaway territory that used to be the playground of U.S. capitalists for exploitation and they want it to be returned to that former role.
These anti-Cuba elements lament that, despite the U.S.’s best efforts, the Cuban people and their revolution have survived more than 60 years. They are embarrassed that a poor island nation has stood up to U.S. imperialism—even after the fall of the Soviet Union and the socialist trading bloc.
U.S. citizens must speak up and demand better of our leaders and officials. Cuba has suffered under the yolk of U.S. imperialism for far too long. Even today, U.S. interference prevents Cuba from accessing the medical supplies it needs to beat the coronavirus pandemic. The illegal and inhumane blockade must be ended. U.S. politicians like Sabatini should be punished for their horrific behavior. The U.S. must let the Cuban people choose their own path without any interference.
The U.S. must keep its hands off Cuba.