Words (L) and the Cuban flag (R).

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Black Lives Matter statement on Cuba criticized for being supportive of government oppression

BLM statement on Cuba criticized for seemingly expressing support for the nation's communist dictatorship.

 

Claire Goforth

Tech

Published Jul 15, 2021   Updated Aug 4, 2021, 3:32 pm CDT

Black Lives Matter (BLM) released a lengthy statement about the upheaval in Cuba calling for the United States to lift its economic embargo and indicating support for the Cuban government.

The statement, posted on the organization’s verified Instagram account, is being widely panned by people of all political ideologies. Many have described it as inaccurate, misinformed, and overly supportive of a brutal dictatorship.

“Black Lives Matter condemns the U.S. federal government’s inhumane treatment of Cubans, and urges it to immediately lift the economic embargo,” BLM’s statement begins.

It goes on to detail alleged harms caused by the embargo, which it says includes hindering Cuba’s ability to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

BLM then seems to express support for both Cuba’s communist dictatorship and those who want to overthrow it.

“The people of Cuba are being punished by the U.S. government because the country has maintained its commitment to sovereignty and self-determination.

“United States leaders have attempted to crush this Revolution for decades.”

It then says that Cuba has supported other “oppressed peoples of African descent” and supported “Black liberation struggles.”

BLM concludes by calling on President Joe Biden to lift the embargo.

“This embargo is a blatant human rights violation and must come to an end.”

In recent weeks, thousands of Cubans have protested chronic shortages of essential items, the government’s COVID-19 pandemic response, and civil rights restrictions. The protests are particularly significant given the nation’s history of silencing its detractors. CNN reports that more than 100 are either detained or missing in the wake of those protests in what is believed to be an attempt by the government to quell the dissent.

In response to the protests, on Wednesday, the Cuban government lifted restrictions on food and medicine.

Cuba is a communist nation. The Castro dictatorship that ruled from 1959 to this April has been credibly accused of serious human rights violations including torture and extrajudicial killings. The American Enterprise Institute reports that nearly 11,000 Cubans were killed by the regime through 2016.

The U.S. has maintained an embargo on trade with Cuba since 1962, the year of the Cuban missile crisis.

In 2000, the U.S. lifted its sanctions on food and humanitarian supplies.

People swiftly condemned BLM after it posted the statement on Instagram.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is Cuban-American, tweeted, “The extortionist ring known as the Black Lives Matter organization took a break today from shaking down corporations for millions & buying themselves mansions to share their support for the Communist regime in #Cuba.” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who is also of Cuban descent, tweeted that the statement was “shameful” and accused BLM of standing with a communist dictatorship.

Bloomberg columnist Noah Smith pointed out that the U.S. hasn’t embargoed food and humanitarian supplies in more than 20 years.

“The U.S. is usually Cuba’s top source of food imports. This statement is just misinformed,” Smith tweeted.

Even those who generally support BLM’s mission and agree that the embargo should be lifted were taken aback by its apparent support of the nation’s undeniably brutal dictatorship. Director Billy Corben called their statement “ignorant, myopic and unproductive.”

A woman who said she is Cuban-American commented on BLM’s Instagram post, “The communist regime in Cuba is just as much to blame as the US’s long history of meddling in Caribbean politics. Let’s not glorify oppression and abuse just because we like certain socialist ideas.” Like many, she also questioned whether BLM consulted any Cubans before crafting the statement.

“Progressive politics is so screwed up right now that an organization ostensibly committed to ‘defunding the police’ comes out in support of a police state that’s oppressing a majority black population,” journalist James Bloodworth tweeted.

“Not sure ‘this communist society can’t succeed without access to capitalist societies’ is making the point they think they’re making,” commented another person. Many conservatives have long deemed BLM a Marxist organization, in large part because one of its co-founders described herself and another cofounder as “trained Marxists” in an interview.

BLM has not responded to the criticisms.

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*First Published: Jul 15, 2021, 12:42 pm CDT