Former President Donald Trump on Monday called for the Biden administration to show as much courage as Cubans protesting for freedom.
“I stand with the Cuban people 100% in their fight for freedom. The Government must let them speak and be free! Joe Biden MUST stand up to the Communist regime or—history will remember,” Trump said in a statement on his website.
“The Cuban people deserve freedom and human rights! THEY ARE NOT AFRAID!”
Some protesters chanted “Freedom!” and “Down with communism!” as they marched. Others called out, “Down with the dictatorship” and “Down with Díaz-Canel,” in reference to Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel, who was anointed by Raul Castro to succeed him as the first non-Castro to rule the island since the 1959 revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power.
“We are not afraid!” protester Samantha Regalado chanted.
Diaz-Canel said he does not plan to budge.
“They’ll have to walk over our dead bodies if they want to take on the revolution,” he said in a comment plastered on the front page of the Cuban Communist Party newspaper, according to The New York Times. “We’re willing to do everything and we’ll be on the streets battling.”
During a Sunday speech, he said the protests were engineered by the U.S. to “provoke a social uprising” and justify an invasion.
He called upon “all revolutionaries” to confront protesters “with firmness and courage.”
“We are not going to hand over the sovereignty or the independence of the people,” he said. “There are many revolutionaries in this country who are willing to give our lives, we are willing to do anything, and we will be in the streets fighting.”
Although U.S. President Joe Biden said Cubans were seeking “relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic,” Cuban exiles said America needs to act, and said the protests are about more than hunger and disease.
“The Cuban people are not on the streets asking for medicine, they’re not on the streets asking for food. They’re in the streets demanding freedom,” said Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat of Miami, according to the Miami Herald. “What they are saying is they don’t want a tomorrow with the Communist Party in charge.”
Trump in his statement noted that Biden, who was vice president in the Obama administration during its honeymoon period with the Castro government, has called for a closer American embrace of Cuba.
“Don’t forget that Biden and the Democrats campaigned on reversing my very tough stance on Cuba. Remember when Obama attended baseball games with Castros while they imprisoned, beat, and killed the Cuban people,” Trump said.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said that 60 years of “socialist dictatorship and oppression, as well as extraordinary courage from the Cuban people, have led to this historic moment,” according to Fox News.
“Now more than ever, the Cuban people need our support as they fight for their freedom,” Rubio said.
“The Cuban dictatorship has rejected every effort that would allow the Cuban people to prosper, including your previous efforts as Vice President. Despite the Obama Administration’s efforts to engage with the regime, the dictatorship continues to restrict travel for political opponents, siphon off the salaries of Cubans employed at foreign firms and severely limit the economic freedom of its citizens to own property and start a business. The current protests in Cuba are not just about current economic shortages. They are about the longstanding and deliberate actions taken by the dictatorship to stymy the economic prosperity and political freedom of the Cuban people,” Rubio wrote in a letter to Biden.
“I ask that given the events of the last day, that your administration issue a clear and unambiguous statement that the current U.S. policies towards the regime implemented by the Trump Administration will remain in place.”