Answering U.S. media lies about Cuba

Graphic: National Network On Cuba

In the wake of U.S. sabotage of the Cuban economy and efforts by the CIA’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to build counter-revolutionary sentiment, the anti-imperialist and socialist movement needs to be strong and united, and not be weakened by the web of lies being spun by U.S. media and politicians.

Many corporate media aligned with the Democratic Party did “fact-checking” to support their own imperialist and disingenuous narrative during the torrent of lies that emanated from the Trump administration on many issues. To many, they seemed momentarily to be the defenders of democracy and truth.

Now the curtain is lifted. There is not a shade of difference between the two capitalist parties in their vicious attacks on — and lies about — Cuba. It is up to working-class activists and Cuba’s supporters to do the real fact-checking.

Fact: The U.S. trade embargo is causing all of the hardship in Cuba.

Six decades ago, as soon as it was clear that Cuba was beginning the process of building socialism, the U.S. imposed sanctions. Initially all but food and medicine were blocked, and at times over the years, food and medicine were also formally included.

Over the decades, adjustments have been made that sometimes brought some relief from the terrible impact of the blockade. But overall, the restrictions have been tightened. The Torricelli Act of 1992, the Helms-Burton Act of 1996, and most recently Donald Trump’s addition of 243 additional sanctions, have all been big escalations that added to Cuba’s difficulties conducting trade.

When U.S. business journals deny that the embargo is a total blockade, they are only technically right. Yes, Cuba is able to trade on the global market to a limited extent. But even U.S. allies are punished for doing any business with Cuba, and the effects are even worse than the laws dictate. The sanctions definitely impact the importation of food, medicine and medical supplies, and more.

A 1997 study by the American Association for World Health (AAWH) and a 1996 article in The Lancet showed that even though the Torricelli Act “was amended to allow … food and medicines into the country, … the act’s enforcement significantly restricted the accessibility of both within Cuba.”

Trade sanctions as a favored weapon of U.S. imperialism were in a sense outed by Henry Kissinger’s call to “make the economy scream” to bring down Chilean President Salvador Allende in the early 1970s. But over a decade earlier, Roy Rubottom, a U.S. State Department official during the Eisenhower administration, issued a memorandum recommending “the denial of money and supplies to Cuba …to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow the government.”

Since then, every U.S. president has tried to make this vile vision a reality — and failed. But the embargo has caused terrible suffering and hardship for 11 million Cuban people.

  • The U.S. media has nearly unanimously portrayed the July 2021 riots as “grassroots” and “spontaneous” protests.

Fact: The website for the National Endowment for Democracy, a CIA front, reveals how it spent several million dollars in its latest budget to fund various groups operating inside Cuba – all part of a multi-pronged strategy to try to fracture Cuba’s socialist solidarity.

As the effects of the U.S. blockade deepened the hardship of the pandemic, and the shortages of food and medicine in Cuba worsened, a clandestine digital attack from operatives in Miami started to take shape. Twitter bots responded to every post that expressed anything about the hardships by prodding posters to link up with “SOS Cuba,” the chosen CIA vehicle for this latest attempt at regime change.

During the second week of July, Twitter accounts were overwhelmed with messages aimed at turning legitimate dissatisfaction caused by the embargo into counterrevolutionary sentiment and violent demonstrations. The July 11 protests that the media claims took place in 40 places across the island were the result of a methodical — and well-funded — campaign by U.S. intelligence agencies.

  • Hyperbolic charges that Cuban people have been detained, tortured and disappeared have permeated the airwaves and print media in the U.S.

Fact: What actually happened in Cuba were arrests in response to violent attacks on Cuban police, acts of arson and vandalism. Detainees were charged and will have trials, and some have already been released. No one in Cuba was “disappeared.”

The term ‘disappeared’ originated in reference to a particular episode in history and became part of anti-imperialist terminology. It refers to Argentina’s 1970s “Dirty War,” when the brutal U.S.-backed right-wing dictatorship hunted down and abducted 30,000 socialist and progressive activists who were never heard from again. Over the years, evidence made clear that many victims were thrown into the ocean from helicopters.

Peddlers of counterrevolutionary anti-Cuba hatred now want to hijack the term. But since the end of the U.S.-backed Batista government, no one in Cuba has been “disappeared.” The only torture that takes place in Cuba is at Guantanamo, the tip of the island illegally held by the U.S. military, where waterboarding and other methods of torture took place in the aftermath of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, and where some prisoners are still unlawfully detained 20 years later.

The response to this U.S. attempt to breed chaos and overturn the Cuban people’s revolution has also been falsely compared to the racist repression of Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S.

Cuba has accomplished amazing things in spite of six decades of U.S. aggression. From the early days of the Cuban Revolution, it became clear that literacy, health care, international solidarity and elimination of poverty were the priorities of Cuba’s leadership and the Cuban people.

In a blatant and current example of how the U.S. is preventing progress, consider the COVID-19 pandemic. Cuba’s five vaccines can help to inoculate not only its own population, but much of Latin America and Africa. That is the stated intent of Cuba’s medical and scientific professionals. But the blockade prevents the import of basic materials and medical supplies that are needed to make this mission a reality.

Instead of being able to trade on the world market, Cuba’s success may depend on efforts by the organization Global Health Partners. The group has sent six million badly-needed syringes to help Cuba meet its goal and is fundraising to send more. Readers can donate to the campaign by visiting the Syringes for Cuba website.

Further solidarity is needed in the form of street actions, education and all manner of fighting back against Joe Biden’s continuation and worsening of the embargo and other forms of counter-revolutionary aggression.

A series of monthly car caravans during 2021 in as many as 50 cities internationally has pushed for an end to the blockade. During July, a group of Cuban Americans opposed to the blockade walked from Miami to Washington, D.C., as a way to publicize their opposition, and were greeted by hundreds of Cuba supporters at the White House on July 25.

All out to defend Cuba and turn back U.S. attacks!