Analysis

‘Squad’ Socialists In Congress Oddly Quiet About Anti-Communism Protests In Cuba

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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Amid popular protests over the communist Cuban government’s failure to provide basic goods and services, socialists in Congress have been strangely quiet.

At least six members of Congress consider themselves socialists or tout endorsements from the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). As of Tuesday afternoon, only one of the six, Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, expressed support for the right of the Cuban people to protest. He added that the communist Cuban government needs to respect those rights.

Calling “on the Cuban government to respect opposition rights and refrain from violence,” Sanders said in a tweet that “all people have the right to protest and to live in a democratic society.”

Though he acknowledged the rights of the Cuban people, Sanders blamed the U.S.’s long-standing embargo on Cuba for exacerbating the shortages, claiming that it “has only hurt, not helped, the Cuban people.”

Furthermore, a State Department official cited medical shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic, not opposition to the communist government, as the cause of the protests. Protesters chanted, “Cuba isn’t yours,” outside of the Communist Party’s headquarters.

Throughout his political career, Sanders has expressed support for Cuba’s communist government, particularly longtime strongman dictator Fidel Castro, who died in 2016. “I did not see a hungry child. I did not see any homeless people. Cuba today not only has free health care but very high-quality health care,” he said in 1989, when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont.

Sanders reportedly told an American aid worker imprisoned in Cuba, “I don’t see what’s so wrong with this country,” in 2014.

Sanders shared similar sentiments in February 2020, at the heat of the Democratic presidential primaries. “When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?” Sanders said in a 60 Minutes interview after a video of him praising Castro in 1985 surfaced. (RELATED: Bernie Claims He Spent Lifetime ‘Fighting Against Authoritarianism’)

It could be, at least at this time, Sanders’ defense of the Cuban people’s right to protest was more than other left-wing members could muster.

Five Democrats, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Missouri Rep. Cori Bush, and New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman, have not issued statements of support for the protests. All five consider themselves socialists or have associated themselves with DSA.

DSA’s International Committee tweeted that it “stands with the Cuban people and their Revolution in this moment of unrest,” and urged the United States to “end the blockade.” The main DSA Twitter account called for the embargo to end, “full stop.”

DSA stands with the Cuban people and their Revolution in this moment of unrest. End the blockade. pic.twitter.com/jzFVrthoMm

— DSA International Committee  (@DSA_Intl_Comm) July 12, 2021

The embargo must end full stop. https://t.co/fBG1HAXMXI

— DSA  (@DemSocialists) July 12, 2021

Likewise, Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel blamed the US for a “blockade” causing power blackouts and shortages of medical goods. Cuba developed its own COVID-19 vaccines with help from Chinese scientists, although their efficacy has not been proven in scientific trials. (RELATED: China Says Its COVID-19 Vaccines Don’t Work Well, Then Backtracks)

Ocasio-Cortez, Bush, Bowman, and Tlaib are all members of DSA, and Omar touts their endorsement on her website. Ocasio-Cortez described DSA as “show[ing] up everywhere that I showed up,” and called their work “great” and “encouraging” in a March interview for the DSA official website.

Tlaib called DSA her “chosen family” in an April 2020 web address.

Ocasio-Cortez, Bush, Bowman, Tlaib, Omar, and Sanders did not respond to the Daily Caller’s requests for comment.