Proud Boys mobilise for the largest protests against Cuban Government

By Sam King

The majority of the Cuban people are rallying behind their revolutionary government.  How serious and severe the attacks from the U.S. on Cuba become and what impact they might have is not yet clear. In this situation all friends of the Cuban people and of socialism need to be as active as possible explaining the achievements of the Cuban revolution under the leadership of the Communist Party and of the current threats it faces.

A revealing fact about the recent round of protests against the socialist government is that the largest demonstrations took place not in Cuba but in Miami, Florida where a large part of the anti-Communist Cuban exile community lives – including the capitalist families who use to run and own Cuba before the revolution of 1959.

On July 11, coordinated protests occurred in six of Cuba’s fourteen provinces, including the major cities, and simultaneously in the United States. However, the only demonstration against the Cuban Government involving more than one thousand people or so in any location occurred in Miami.

Miami based Cuban musician Yotuel leads the largest protest against the Cuban Government on July 11, Little Havana, Miami, Florida.

Miami was also the only location were protests were ongoing for around one week. Nightly demonstrations were allowed by police to block major roads for several hours on July 12-14. On July 14, protesters closed the Palmetto Expressway for several hours. After police eventually decided to clear it, the road was then turned briefly into a protest vehicle parade with anti-socialist Cubans hanging from their ostentatious SUVs, speed boats and other vehicles complete with Cuban flags, American Flags and even many Trump 2020 flags. 

Miami protests appeared to be dying dying out by July 16 despite ongoing supportive coverage in Florida based mass media. After July 11 there was no further anti-government protests in Cuba.

The Proud Boys, a pro-trump white supremacist militia, held prominent place at Miami demonstrations, including contingents holding up Proud Boys banners and speaking. 

Enrique Tarrio, national leader of the Proud Boys organisation wore a shirt bearing the slogan “American Supremicist” to the Oct 2020 Latinos for Trump action also in Miami Florida. Tarrio’s shirt succinctly expresses the view of far right Miami Cubans towards the Island.

the Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, Tamiami Park in Miami, Florida, USA, 18 October 2020
Enrique Tarrio attending the protest July 11, 2021
Latinos for Trump, 18 October 2020

Miami’s Cuban mayor, Republican Francis Suarez spoke at the first of these actions and used it to call for direct US intervention in Cuba. He later told Fox News:

“What should be contemplated right now is a coalition of potential military action in Cuba, similar to what has happened… in both Republican and Democrat administrations,”

Referencing the 1989 invasion of Panama under President George H.W. Bush and U.S. air strikes in Yugoslavia as part of the NATO role in the Kosovo War in 1999, the Miami Herald reported him as saying:“They deposed Noriega and that country had peaceful democracy for decades… And President Clinton in Kosovo, intervening in a humanitarian issue with air strikes.”

“What I’m suggesting is that [military] option is one that has to be explored, and one that cannot be just simply discarded.”

US intervention, including military intervention, to overthrow the revolutionary Government in Cuba is what the social media campaign around the hashtag #SOSCuba is about.

The right has attempted to present the July 11 protests in Cuba as an organic product of Cuban society and the failures of Cuban socialism. This not only ignores 60 years of US economic blockade against Cuba, it also ignores the critical role right wing Cubans and non-Cubans living in the United States, Spain and elsewhere have had in organising and pushing the protests forward.

Heavy handed involvement from inside the United States is hardly being hidden. One example is that a key slogan of the leadership of demonstrations both in Cuba and the united States, Patria y Vida was popularised through a militantly counter-revolutionary song of that name released in February 2021.

Performed by Cuban artists residing in Miami and Havana the song has been widely promoted throughout the US mass media as an organic outcry of Cuban artists against the regime. However, the two rappers participating in the collaboration who are actually based in Cuba only get to sing for 40 seconds at the back end of the track, while the rest is dominated by wealthy musicians who have ultimately become Miami based.

Inside Cuba after July 11 there have been no further anti-government mobilisations. There was significant demonstrations in support of the socialist government on July 17 which were far larger than the anti-government protests of the previous week.

Havana, July 17
Havana, July 17
Havana, July 17
Havana, July 17

Outlets such as Newsweek have falsely reported ongoing protests in Cuba. They have given coverage to the ongoing protests in Miami while falsely asserting that protests are also ongoing in Cuba while re-using footage or photos from July 11 to deceive their audience.

The alternative explanation why the pro-socialist protests in Havana are bigger than both anti-government protests in Miami or inside Cuba is due to the supposed repressive nature of the Cuban state. However, despite the huge resources of US mass media organisations, the Miami Cubans and also the US government, nobody have come up with evidence of widespread violence such as would be necessary to put down an ongoing protest movement.

During the week Cuban state media aired footage showing some of the extreme acts of vandalism and provocation by the anti-government protests on July 11. These include attacking and destroying buildings and vehicles, including police cars. There is also reports of stoning a children’s hospital, looting and, ultimately, violent clashes between the anti-government protesters and ordinary, pro-revolution Cubans. There are also reports and and footage of organised groups of pro-revolution Cubans confronting the anti-government groups.

The footage aired on state media is of incidents which took place in Barrio Diez de Octubre in Havana (which is why “10 Octobre” appears on the screen – it is from July 11). The seriousness of the incidents makes clear that the government would have to, or is certainly justified, taking legal against key perpetrators involved. If not then the same destruction could easily keep repeating. Counter revolutionaries would have impunity to destroy whatever they wished – something that would no doubt be encouraged from the US.

The idea that the Cuban government should not take action against people burning or destroying property is obviously absurd. Cuba is a poor country with few resources. The effect on the morale of working people in Cuba if small bands of saboteurs were allowed to go around ransacking at will would likely be disastrous – a huge boon to the counter-revolution.

There were of course many peaceful protests on July 11. But there is no evidence these were repressed. It is far too easy for the mass media and hostile social media to take images of peaceful protests and counter-pose these to images of police making an arrest or a confrontation. Notably almost no images seem to have emerged of police hitting people or any outrageous acts of police violence – though it would be surprising if there were not some isolated cases on the day.

In fact it seems clear from other footage that the Cuban state, at least in Havana, were adhering to a policy of minimal confrontation and violence in dealing with the protests. Police and other emergency services are seen to retreat in the face of rockthrowing by local youths – even when not overwhelmingly outnumbered. This footage is widely available on anti-socialist networks on Facebook were Miami Cubans and others cheer on the rock throwers.

One protestor – Diubis Laurencio Tejeda (36) was killed late at night on July 11 in La Guinera a Southern suburb of Havana. Reuters reported witnesses as saying that protesters attacked police with rocks and were then fired on by police. Telesur reports the protesters were attempting to march towards the National Police headquarters. Several other civilians and police were also hospitalised after the same clash.

This incident took place in the context of what was a co-ordinated series of often violent protests openly supported by the united states government and counterrevolutionaries in Miami. That the number of civilian deaths is that low seems to show the Cuban leadership were not attempting to put down the protests with blood. Even the US state department claimed on Wednesday there were 99 people detained – though in reality many of these had already been released.

It is useful to compare the situation to the protests in Colombia or Haiti. Most people outside of Latin America are not aware of the import truly massive-scale protests in Colombia this year. The Colombian movement opposes a US client regime, rather than a socialist opponent of US imperialism. So the Colombian protests as haven’t been promoted in the corporate media.

Bogota, May 15, 2021

The movement has been too powerful for the state security forces and paramilitary militias in Colombia to defeat it through violence. However, the Colombian state has being trying. The amount of bloodshed is grizzly. Community organisers, especially in rural areas, are routinely disappeared and murdered. Police have also been shooting people’s eyes out, a tactic Chilean police also used against anti-government protests there.

Colombia’s own ombudsman officially admitted 43 people were killed in one month during a peak in anti-government protests in April and May this year. In addition, more than 100,000 Colombians have been killed by Covid19, compared to less than 2000 in Cuba – giving Colombia a per capita death rate around 10 times higher.

There are certainly many serious social problems in Cuba. Like all poor countries like Cuba has few resources to respond to things like the pandemic or the economic fallout associated with the loss in tourism income during the pandemic period. The 60 year-long US economic blockade of Cuba aims to make all these problems more acute. It must also be the case that the Cuban government are imperfect in how they respond to these and other challenges.

In this situation it is inevitable that sections of the Cuban working class, young people, some intellectuals are alienated from the revolutionary government and in some cases oppose it.

A few, conservative, dissident artists or other intellectuals who identify with the empire more than they do with the majority of Cuban working people or with the Cuban political leadership is not a force that can endanger the revolution. However, if the dissidents are joined by a fairly wide section of alienated youth, small traders, would be capitalists and right-wing workers – even if these are still a relatively small minority of the overall population – then that certainly does represent a perilous danger of counter-revolution.

The ongoing US economic war against Cuba aims to create such a high degree of suffering that the ranks of the opposition and also of the demoralised and alienated swell. Meanwhile the ongoing political war being waged mostly from inside the United States aims to cohere as much as possible of this opposition and alienated people to forge some sort of coherent opposition within the country. Any such opposition, if it emerges, will be presented as the legitimate representative of the Cuban people and used as a social beach head for an imperial assault to over-throw the revolutionary government. The historical record of US intervention attests to that as much as the open proclamations by Biden and other US rulers this week.

Recent US backed attempts at regime change in Nicaragua and Venezuela both failed. The majority of the Cuban people are rallying behind their revolution and government.  How serious and severe attacks from the U.S. on Cuba become and what impact they might have cannot yet be clear. In this situation it is imperative all friends of the Cuban people and of socialism are as active as possible explaining the achievements of the Cuban revolution under the leadership of the Communist Party and of the current threats it faces. This is essential to being prepared to act against imperialist intervention when that next escalates.

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