Give Me Liberty – Cuba Libre
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U.S. interest in the island nation of Cuba began with the Spanish-American War in 1898. The war lasted just 100 days, with the United States as the victor, Spain vanquished, and Cuba became a free nation. From 1898 until the Cuban Revolution of 1953-1958, Cuba was a paradise for U.S. businessmen and U.S. tourists.
In 1952, former Cuban President Fulgencio Batista again ran for the position. In a three-way race, Roberto Agramonte led in all the polls, followed by Carlos Hevia, and Batista a distant third. Three months before the elections, Batista, with the backing of the Cuban Army, staged a coup and seized power. He ousted outgoing President Carlos Prío Socarrás, canceled the elections and took control of the government as a provisional president.
The corruption of the Cuban government, the brutality of their police and the government’s indifference to the needs of the people for education, medical care, housing, for social justice and economic justice, left an open invitation for a revolution, and Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz accepted that invitation.
The United States government initially reacted favorably to the Cuban revolution, seeing it as part of a movement to bring democracy to Latin America. Castro’s legalization of the Communist Party and the hundreds of executions of Batista agents, policemen and soldiers that followed caused a deterioration in the relationship between the two countries. Conditions further deteriorated with Castro’s Agrarian Reform Law, where thousands of acres of farmland were expropriated (including land owned by U.S. owners).
In response, the U.S. imposed a range of sanctions, eventually including a total ban on trade between the countries and a freeze on all Cuban-owned assets in the U.S. In response to the U.S. sanctions, Castro signed a commercial agreement with the Soviets.
Living conditions in Cuba have deteriorated under the U.S. sanctions, even more so after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, but Cuba’s leadership refused the U.S. demand to renounce Communism, even 12 years after Castro retired in 2008. President Trump further tightened sanctions on Cuba just before he left office in January 2021.
Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez has been the president of Cuba since 2019, and under his leadership, the people of Cuba have finally had enough of what Communism has offered them. Triggered by shortages of food and medicine, the people of Cuba began protesting their government on July 11.
The protesters are demanding an end to the Communist dictatorship while chanting “freedom” and calling for President Miguel Diaz-Canel to resign. Videos of the protests show angry crowds walking, cycling and riding motorbikes, and others even overturning police vehicles, while chanting calls for the end of the Communist dictatorship such as “Down with Communism,” “Freedom,” and “Patria y Vida” (Homeland and Life). In Santiago de Cuba, even the local police joined the protests.
Cuban President Diaz-Canel blames the protests on the U.S. embargo. While U.S. President Biden had campaigned on easing sanctions, he has not yet done so. Biden recently stated that “the United States stands firmly with the people of Cuba as they assert their universal rights and we call on the government of Cuba to refrain from violence and attempts to silence the voice of the people of Cuba.”
Libertarians believe that an end to the sanctions will allow free trade with Cuba, and with the reintroduction of capitalism to the island, it will only be a matter of time until the Cuban people will demand an end to their failed Communist government, for Communism has failed every time it has been tried.