The United States needs to stop enabling Cuba’s communist dictatorship

Tanner Trafelet, Senior Reporter

The Cuban Constitution ratified in 2019 states that Cubans have a right to free speech and expression, as long as it ‘is in accordance with the humanist principles upon which the State’s cultural policy and the values [upon which a] socialist society are based.’ In Article 56, the Constitution also elaborates on how freedom of assembly is allowed for ‘peaceful and legal purposes…exercised with respect to public order and in compliance with the precepts established by law.’ 

Recent protests against the Cuban government reasonably constitute widespread disagreement with how Cuba’s communist dictatorship governs. Devoid of things essential to human existence, such as consistent access to food, water and medicine, scarcity considered normal under Cuba’s inefficient command economy is worsened by how the government treats its citizens. 

Freedom House, a non-profit non-governmental organization (NGO) which conducts advocacy and research on democracy, human rights, and political freedom assigns Cuba a ‘freedom’ rating of 13/100 or ‘not free.’ The organization’s profile on Cuba observes that the Cuban Communist Party, the nation’s only political party, is not subject to free and fair elections, does not allow independent media, political opposition, or basic political rights to be held by its populace. 

Wide-scale suppression of the protests, and subsequent mass arrests of pro-democracy protesters that Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel called ‘mercenaries’ align with Freedom House’s characterization of Cuba’s communist dictatorship. This type of repression is nothing new to Cubans or the international community, with the government’s response to those it views as ‘counterrevolutionaries’ harkening back to the violence of the 1994 Maleconazo incident

It is quite clear from the willingness of the Cuban regime to use violence against those who disagree with it, that when push comes to shove the Cuban government has no problem with valuing its existence over the lives of its populace. The Cuban constitution itself explicitly invalidates any idea or action that goes against what the ‘socialist society’ needs.

I argue that it must be the role of the international community, and the United States, to be the facilitators of political change in Cuba. No matter how large the anti-government movement may become, the Cuban government will maintain a monopoly on violence and thus be able to use the state’s gun-barrel to silence, imprison, and murder citizens who critize it. The way to circumvent this is with overwhelming international support that removes the need for Cubans to fight for freedom alone, and for the United States and its allies to sever the ties that allow the Cuban command economy to stay afloat. 

The Biden administration’s foreign policy prescriptions must come to realize that some nations are not allies of the United States. Meetings such as President Biden’s meeting with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, or former President Donald Trump’s 2018 meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un serve only to validate dictators who agree to these glorified photoshoots. 

The human rights abuses and authoritarian practices of Cuba are not something that I believe that President Biden or the United States should validate. In the international community, the United States should cooperate with nations who share its ideals to help pro-democracy Cubans influence the way in which their government is ran, and to attain a basic level of human rights. 

Change within Cuba will not happen overnight, and I severely doubt that their government will act while faced with no real retribution for the use of violence against its own citizens. Both the United States and its allies should have drawn a line upon the collapse of the Soviet Union, but the complete failure to do so is now costing them in Cuban blood.