Let's talk about CubaMonday, July 26, 2021
Recently, a series of protests across the island nation has reignited the long-standing polarising debate about what truly needs to happen in Cuba.
We could discuss the ongoing embargo and how it has made it difficult for Cuba to actively trade with other countries, but I believe that has been addressed on several occasions by people more learned than me. What I would instead like to briefly discuss is the idea that external forces are possibly intruding on the island's sovereignty with a well-oiled propaganda machine.
For weeks I have seen people downplay the protests in Cuba, making the claim that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and, by extension, the US Government are the ones organising these protests or that these protests are insignificant since the counter-protests are much larger.
While I am acutely aware of the many times the US has intervened in the politics of several nations — the Caribbean and Latin America included — I think it is important for us to not hastily assume that these people's motives are not their own.
Moreover, as someone whose experiences have been minoritised in many ways, I am very cautious about nullifying experiences because they are not popular.
Just to be clear, a minority status is not necessarily about the numbers, it is about power and access to resources. Again, I am not saying that people in support of the Cuban Revolution have unchecked power, I am simply making the point that a minority status does not necessarily equate to having fewer people. And yes, it is not lost on me that the Cubans who oppose the Cuban Revolution are also fervent supporters of the privatisation of the Cuban health-care sector.
The ability to protest is a right that I believe should be granted to everyone. Well, everyone except bigots. You should not be publicly allowed to display your unhappiness when others are given the freedom to access the same rights afforded to you.
What is particularly interesting about the protests in Cuba, which has happened in every other country that is not white and/or in the West, is the intense call for regime change when people express dissatisfaction with their Government.
Leaders of these countries are not given a chance to have a national discourse with their people — you disagree with your leaders? How about we mail you a coup d'etat? Two days if you ship with Amazon Prime.
We never get this type of reaction when it comes to politics in Western countries. During the French protests of 2020, no one called for the removal of President Emmanuel Macron — well no one other than the people of France.
After President Donald Trump's victory in 2016, “Not My President” trended for several weeks and on several other occasions during his tenure. Again, no call for a coup. In fact, to my knowledge the only time there has ever been a coup against the US has been Americans trying to replace their own leaders.
To conclude, we should not downplay the protests in Cuba by simply assuming that they are a function of the US meddling in the region. Listen to Cubans when they are telling you what is happening on the ground — and only Cubans living in Cuba! And, a protest, no matter how widespread, does not give foreigners the right to interfere with a country's sovereignty.
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