Anti-government protests broke out Sunday in Cuba demanding freedom and calling on the disbandment of the country’s communist dictatorship, all while some of the U.S.’s most outspoken, self-professed Democratic socialists appear to be in lockstep by not acknowledging the historic events unfolding on the island about 90 miles from Florida.
Fox News has emailed Reps. Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Sen. Bernie Sanders and has yet to receive a response from any of them. As of early Monday, none have even mentioned the protest on social media.
Thousands of Cubans marched on Havana’s Malecon promenade and elsewhere to protest food shortages, high prices and the coronavirus outbreak in one of the biggest anti-government demonstrations in the country ever.
Police initially trailed behind as protesters chanted “Freedom,” “Enough” and “Unite.” One motorcyclist pulled out a U.S. flag, but it was snatched from him by others.
The Biden administration was criticized on social media for appearing to have difficulty finding its footing on how to respond to the protests.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, took the State Department to task over a tweet that blamed the protest on concerns over COVID-19 and not the worsening economic situation or the fact that protesters chanted, “We Want Liberty.”
“People in Cuba are protesting 62 years of socialism, lies, tyranny & misery not ‘expressing concern about rising COVID-19 cases/deaths. Why is it so hard for @Potus & the people in his administration to say that?” Rubio tweeted.
Critics will likely say that these Democratic socialists are remaining quiet in the early stages of the protests because there are so many unknowns. Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who heads the Communist Party, has already called on the country’s revolutionaries to counter the demonstrators.
“We are prepared to do anything,” he said during a national address. “We will be battling in the streets.”
He continued, “We are calling on all the revolutionaries in the country, all the Communists, to hit the streets wherever there is an effort to produce these provocations.”
Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, took to Twitter to say the “U.S. supports freedom of expression and assembly across Cuba, and would strongly condemn any violence or targeting of peaceful protesters who are exercising their universal rights.”
There has been an uneasy relationship between Cuban-Americans and the extreme left of the Democrat Party. Ocasio-Cortez once took to Twitter to defend “progressivism” against claims that some of the policies sent minority voters into the Republican column in 2020.
The Democratic socialist tweeted, “But honestly when it comes to Latinos the party’s just never seriously made an effort,” apparently referring to the Democrat Party. “Mexicans, Central Am, Caribbean, Chicanos — Cubans are not the only impt community.”
The Trump administration won the favor with a bloc of Cuban American voters who support his hardline stance on Cuba after he abandoned attempts at diplomacy brokered under former President Barack Obama, reimposed economic sanctions and tightened travel restrictions that had been relaxed under Obama.
The National Review reported that these legislators have never even denounced Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has described Maduro as a “brutal dictator” and vowed to continue recognizing opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s rightful leader — a position shared by more than 50 nations.
In 2019, Omar, D-Minn., went as far as to accuse the U.S. government of leading a coup against Maduro.
Sanders, I-Vt., once defended some of the policies of Cuba’s previous communist dictator Fidel Castro.
Following his win during Nevada’s caucus in the 2020 Democratic primaries, Sanders was asked by Anderson Cooper during an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” why the Cuban people didn’t rise up and help the U.S. overthrow the Castro regime. Sanders replied that the dictator “educated their kids, gave their kids health care, totally transformed the society.”
“We’re very very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad,” Sanders explained. “You know? When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?”
Republicans have taken to social media to support the protesters in their effort.
Cruz reposted a video that claimed to show dozens in front of the Communist Party Headquarters and said the current regime will be “consigned to the dustbin of history.”
“It has brutalized & denied freedom to generations of Cubans, and forced my family & so many others to flee,” he tweeted. “The American people stand squarely with the men & women of Cuba and their noble fight for liberty.”
Fox News’ Lucas Manfredi and the Associated Press contributed to this report