Here in La Coruña, in northwestern Spain, I toasted with rum in the company of one of many Cuban exiles this week, after thousands of people took to the streets of Cuba demanding freedom and the end of the dictatorship.
My Cuban friend was quick to dispute what the international press is publishing, that the protests were just about COVID-19-related health care: “It is not that Cuba has exploded because the pandemic is rampant; our pandemic is Castroism,” she counters. “The only vaccine,” she concludes, “is military intervention by the United States or anyone else.”
It’s unlikely the Biden administration would intervene in this way, but the support of other nations is widely seen as critical. Cuban dissident Zoe Valdés likewise says: “The end of tyranny in Cuba depends on the Cubans, but also on the international support we have.”
So many of them are risking their lives in the largest demonstrations since the “maleconazo” of August 1994. Indeed, the position of the United States and the European Union is more important than ever.
Yet from Joe Biden, so far, we have received mostly whispers. His appeal to the regime to listen to its people and attend to their needs can be applied to anything. Biden often manages to say things that no one can disagree with, because it is impossible to disagree with nothing at all. I doubt it will do any good.
The European Union’s position sounds sadly similar. “I would like to ask the government to allow these peaceful demonstrations and to listen to the protesters’ expressions of discontent,” said Spanish Socialist Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign policy.
Unfortunately, we can’t expect much more from their ilk even as the streets of Havana cry out. Borrell and the European Socialists’ true allegiances were already made plain thanks to some leaked correspondence.
In June, an email addressed to Javier Moreno, president of the Spanish Socialists in the European Parliament, was leaked, revealing his collaboration with the Cuban dictatorship. The message, written on May 28 by a group colleague, Pilar Ruiz, warned her colleague that the center-right parties were preparing the imminent presentation of an item demanding a declaration on the violation of human rights in Cuba, before the plenary session of the European Parliament. “As you know,” the email said, “it will be difficult to stop, we do not have a majority. I wonder if you want to warn the Cuban Embassy or if you want me to warn them.
“Borrell’s cabinet,” she added, “is already aware of it.” The response from Moreno’s cabinet leaves no room for doubt: “Thank you for the information. We have informed the embassy.” It is touching how efficient European socialists can be when it comes to being accomplices with communist totalitarianism; in fixing the economy, they take a little longer.
The email, which was leaked by the president of the NGO Cuban Prisoners Defenders, shows, as described by the organization’s president, “an intimate and close relationship of involvement of the PSOE (Spanish socialists), revealing strategies, actions not yet public and parliamentary acts without any ethical limits to the dictatorship of Cuba.”
In this context, it is easy to suspect that the European socialists are, once again, double speaking. On the one hand, they chide the Cuban government, while on the other, they act as informers for the Castro regime — and, with their votes, they try to prevent the EU from taking a firm stand against the dictatorship that has been ruining the Cuban people for more than half a century.
Cubans need more than hollow words of encouragement. They need foreign help to topple the regime. Undoubtedly, Cubans will also need God’s help. It is impossible not to be reminded of the role John Paul II played in the fall of communism. “The fundamental error of socialism is anthropological in nature,” he said in 1991. And in the Mass marking the beginning of his pontificate, he had already signaled the path to freedom: “Do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power. . . . To his saving power, open the boundaries of states, economic and political systems, the vast fields of culture, civilization and development.”
My friend prays to St. John Paul II that all this will, finally, lead to the fall of the regime. Then, there would not be enough rum in Spain to celebrate. And I can think of no better ally (St. John Paul II, not rum). But, as the old saying goes, the important thing is to “Strike with thy rod while thou beg to thy God.”
Cubans are already praying, and doing what they can. Very soon we will know if the United States and Europe decide, once and for all, to wield their rods and force the fall of the communist plague. Biden has a golden opportunity to prove that his presidency is something more than an inconsequential political ricochet. Sadly, he may be the only hope left for the thousands of Cubans who are literally putting their lives on the line for freedom.