Activists rally in support of Cuba at a rally Thursday, July 15, in New York's Union Square. The event was organized by the Young Communist League of New York. | via Maicol Lynch / YCL
NEW YORK—“Cuba sí, bloqueo no!” (Cuba yes, blockade no!) chanted the crowd in Spanish while holding signs that read “Long live Socialist Cuba” and “End the inhumane sanctions!”
The Young Communist League of New York took the initiative to organize a rally in support of ending the blockade on Cuba after a series of protests mounted in Miami and Cuba this past weekend for a variety of reasons, ranging from food and syringe shortages to possible regime change.
The organizations endorsing the protest included NY-NJ Cuba Sí Coalition, the Venceremos Brigade, IFCO/Pastors for Peace, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, United Against War and Militarism, The People’s Forum, and Kristin Richardson Jordan for Harlem New York City Council District 9, among others.
YCL-NY co-chair Justine Medina addresses the Union Square rally on Thursday. | via Maicol Lynch / YCL
Speakers from these organizations stepped forward to lead chants of solidarity with the Cuban people and reiterate that it is not Americans’ role to demand regime change on the island. Instead, speakers said, the most important thing people here can do to help the Cuban people is to push the U.S. government to end the ongoing blockade that has prevented the island country from obtaining easier access to food and medical supplies for over 60 years now.
Members of the YCL-NY also asked the crowd to contact elected representatives to hold the Biden administration accountable, since on the campaign trail he had promised a return to Obama-era policy regarding Cuba. Since taking over from Trump, however, there has so far been no substantive change in the U.S. approach toward Cuba.
Justine Medina, the Cuban-American co-chairwoman of the YCL-NY, spoke about how the U.S.’ undeclared war against Cuba has divided her family here from relatives still living on the island and others residing in Florida. “The blockade is bad for all Cubans,” she said. “You don’t need to be a Communist to care about Cuba, only human.”
Maicol Lynch, another YCL-NY representative, took the mic saying, “It doesn’t stop at Cuba or even socialism. The U.S. implements illegal blockades on capitalist nations, too, such as Russia, Syria, Zimbabwe, and Iran—and in the middle of a global pandemic no less!”
When CNN en Español interviewed representatives of the YCL-NY about what exactly the protest demanded, they answered, “We as American Communists are concerned with pushing the Biden administration to end this blockade which continues to plague Cuba during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The current demonstrations in Cuba cannot be grouped together and generalized as one large “anti-government” protest, as several mainstream corporate media outlets have tried to do. Nor can all of the protesters be labeled “CIA plants” or “counter-revolutionaries,” as some on the sectarian left have rushed to claim.
YCL-NY member Maicol Lynch appeared in an interview on CNN en Español coverage of the rally.
Many protesters are simply apolitical citizens of the island nation who are frustrated with the pandemic and food shortages brought on by the blockade and do not know exactly where to direct their frustration. In Miami, anti-communist (and mostly Trumpite Republican) “gusanos,” such as Mayor Francis Suarez, call for U.S. military intervention in Cuba. But how bombing the Cuban people, as Suarez has advocated, would supposedly save them from the pandemic and food shortages goes unexplained. The demands for military attacks and airstrikes came on the heels of GOP Rep. Anthony Sabatini calling for Cuban government officials to be executed.
So far, it only right-wing anti-communists such as these promoting violence, not the Cuban government. And given the size of counterdemonstrations, it does not appear that the overthrow of the government is a prospect that excites many Cubans. The protests are also notably taking place only two years after a constitutional vote in Cuba where over 80% of the population voted in favor of preserving socialism.
In any case, one thing is clear: Only the Cuban people can decide the future of Cuba, and it seems that the majority of Cubans have no plan on abandoning their revolution.
People’s World is a voice for progressive change and socialism in the United States. It provides news and analysis of, by, and for the labor and democratic movements to our readers across the country and around the world. People’s World traces its lineage to the Daily Worker newspaper, founded by communists, socialists, union members, and other activists in Chicago in 1924.
This article was republished from People's World.