Bidens reaction to Cuban protests has been a disgrace

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The initial Biden administration response to the mass rallies for freedom that took place across Cuba on Sunday was a disgrace.

As Cubans took to the streets defying the Communist regime’s totalitarian police, a senior State Department official tweeted that the administration viewed the protests as merely a result of unhappiness “about rising COVID cases/deaths” in the island country.

That’s pure bunk. The slogans shouted by thousands who risked imprisonment or worse were about an end to the Communist dictatorship installed in the 1950s. “Freedom!” “Enough!” they cried.

The starvation and shortages that have outraged demonstrators are a direct result of the regime’s policies and repression. Some blame the lack of tourism because of the pandemic. But that money was largely funneled to an unaccountable and brutal government, not its long-suffering citizens.

That State Department reaction is in line with the Biden foreign policy team’s embrace of every bad policy produced by the Obama administration and its revulsion for anything that happened under President Donald Trump. As was the case with the dangerous nuclear deal with Iran, Obama’s ending of the US embargo on Cuba was based on the foolish belief that doing so would produce more liberalization. It didn’t, and Trump was right to re-impose the sanctions.

Finally, on Monday, Biden issued a statement echoing those previously made by both Republicans and Democrats the day before, saying America “stands with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom.” That’s a good start. But given the regime’s efforts to mobilize its supporters to attack protesters and blaming the country’s problems on American policies, Biden will need to do more than that.

America doesn’t need to intervene in Cuba. But Biden must resist the inevitable push from the left and the foreign policy establishment to aid Cuba’s Communist government in order to restore the “calm” that the State Department wants. We need to stand up for the protesters.

The demonstrations prove that any move toward resuming relations or economic ties to Cuba must be directly tied to democratic and economic reforms that will end Communist rule. Anything less than that means consigning Cuba’s people to more decades of misery under a failed tyranny.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter: @jonathans_tobin

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