Even today, many people in nations across the world suffer under repressive regimes, but no such case hits home for more Floridians than that of the people of Cuba, who have had to endure the tyranny of a communist dictatorship for over half a century. So many of us have family ties to the island, and even many of those who do not have spent enough time among the Cuban Exile community to become emotionally invested in the cause of freedom in Cuba.
I am myself a son of that Cuban Exile community. My grandfather, Luis Bonifacio Gomez, recognized Fidel Castro's communist ideology very early on and he understood what it meant for Cuba. He didn't hesitate in acting, and in 1960 moved with his wife and two children, the youngest being my mother, to South Florida. And while my experience, having been born and raised in Miami among this community, cannot compare to those Cubans who experienced life on the island before the revolution and / or who suffered under the yoke of communism there, there is still in my soul the same desperate hope to see Cuba be freed.
And while there is much to fear, today there is also hope. As has been widely reported, the inability of the communist government's decrepit healthcare system to deal with the recent outbreak of COVID has sparked an uprising among the Cuban people who have resolved to demand their freedom and an end to the repression of one-party communist rule on the island. Now the question for anyone in our government or campaigning for office is: what should we do and what shouldn't we do?
In an apparent bout of insanity, City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez suggested US military airstrikes on Cuba, and then got some backup from former Congressman Carlos Curbelo. Besides the illegality & immorality of it, the net effect of such action would be a lot of innocent Cubans caught in the crossfire as "collateral damage" and the undermining of the movement. The US military's only proper function is to defend the United States, and no serious case can be made that what is being suggested by these Republicans would have anything at all to do with defending our country. Similarly, Senator Marco Rubio has suggested that the US government go about providing internet service to people on the island, as the communist regime has cut access for the people. While we all certainly want the people on the island to be reconnected to the rest of the world and able to tell the true story of what is happening there, this is again the wrong action. On one side is the fact that at over $28 trillion in debt, the US government has no legitimate business spending American tax dollars to restore utilities in any foreign country, no matter how emotionally & personally invested many of us may be. More importantly, these kinds of actions will serve to reinforce the communist narrative that its failures and the opposition to it is a result of US foreign policy that has targeted the regime for decades with embargoes and sanctions. The last thing any of us wants is to see this movement undermined by the perception of them being sponsored by a foreign government. But the good thing is that we don't need to have the US government interjecting itself.
The Cuban American community has had a long standing tradition of taking direct action as individuals, organized & working voluntarily to support those on the island, and even now, many stand ready to take action. The best response the US government can take is to get out of their way. This would require President Biden to revoke one of President Bill Clinton's executive orders, Proclamation 6867, and to instruct the Coast Guard & other forces to stay out of the way of Cuban Americans volunteering their own efforts and resources to support the Cuban people. You can sign a petition demanding that President Biden revoke Proclamation 6867 here. While it would be difficult to envision given the current makeup of Congress, they could conceivably pass legislation to attempt to override the offending provisions in Proclamation 6867. Regardless, the clear truth is that, as in most cases and unlike what local Republicans believe, US government intervention is the wrong answer in this key moment in history. Allow our community to exercise their rights to take action in support of the people standing up to the Communist regime and do not undermine their efforts by placing the stamp of US government intervention on this turning point in Cuba's history.
If you want to keep up with what is happening in Cuba or look into any ways you can help, I would recommend you follow my good friend, Martha Bueno.