2017 Man of the Year: Cuban Flag Guy

Video grab showing a man who burst in front of the May Day march waving a U.S. flag, at Revolution Square in Havana / Getty Images

Video grab showing a man who burst in front of the May Day march waving a U.S. flag, at Revolution Square in Havana / Getty Images

BY:

On May 1, five million Cubans marched behind a banner. The banner read: "NUESTRA FORTALEZA ES LA UNIDAD," Spanish for, roughly, "Please send American dollars. We are starving." The solitary figure, a black man, emerged from beneath the first "u." He sprinted through the empty street waving a different banner: the United States flag. In full view of dictator Raul Castro.

Not since 2016 Man of the Year Castro's Death Jeep broke down during the murderous dictator's funeral procession has Cuba seen a more impressive standard bearer for freedom. The protester was greeted just as warmly as the American flag is greeted in Berkeley these days. A mob descended upon him, viciously beating him. Old Glory was torn away and quickly hidden from sight so as not to remind the audience that a world exists outside of the fortress state.

In 1989, an anonymous Chinese citizen faced down a tank and became the face of the Tiananmen Square protests. In 2017, Cuba welcomed its own "Tank Man." Flag Guy may not sound as cool, but for his defiance in the face of an oppressive regime, this anonymous protester has earned the title of Washington Free Beacon Man of the Year.

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