Cuban Regime's Biggest Defenders in Congress Silent on Pro-Democracy Protests

Thousands stand up to communist regime across country

People shout slogans against the government during a protest in Havana
Cuban protesters / Reuters
July 12, 2021

Democrats who have rallied behind the Castro regime are silent on growing pro-democracy demonstrations that have gripped Cuba.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters took to the streets across the island over the weekend, waving American flags and chanting "freedom" as well as anti-government slogans. Reps. Bobby Rush (D., Ill.), Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.), Barbara Lee (D., Calif.), and Gwen Moore (D., Wis.) demanded President Joe Biden lift Trump sanctions against the Castro regime in a March letter signed by more than 70 members of Congress, including all four members of the far-left "Squad."

None of the letter's four authors or members of the Squad have weighed in on the pro-democracy protests in Cuba. Rush, Cohen, Lee, and Moore did not return requests for comment.

Rep. Mark Green (R., Tenn.), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee for the Western Hemisphere, pilloried the lawmakers in a statement given to the Washington Free Beacon.

"The Communist dictatorship in Cuba has been oppressing the Cuban people for decades," Green said. "It’s absurd to think that any sitting U.S. lawmaker, who enjoys the freedoms of our country, would ever support a communist dictatorship in another country—especially one as corrupt as the Cuban dictatorship."

A Biden administration spokeswoman falsely ascribed the reason for the protests to "concern about rising COVID cases, deaths, and medicine shortages" rather than political oppression. The White House walked back those remarks and condemned the regime after critics like Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) called the statement "pathetically weak."

Biden has a history of taking a lax approach with the Cuban regime. During the Obama administration, the White House lifted restrictions on travel and commerce with Cuba.

Support for relaxed Cuban relations extends beyond the administration and House of Representatives. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), and Jerry Moran (R., Kan.) introduced a measure in May to lift the embargo on the communist regime. Klobuchar and Leahy brought a similar measure to the floor in 2019.

David Carle, a spokesman for Leahy, told the Free Beacon the Vermont senator continues to support an end to the embargo and will make a statement about the unrest in Cuba in "the next couple of days."

Klobuchar and Moran did not return requests for comment, and a review of their communications platforms shows no public statements in support of dissidents in Cuba.

Lawmakers of Cuban descent welcomed the protesters and praised their bravery. Foreign Relations Committee chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) called the demonstrations "historic," adding that U.S. lawmakers should "support their demands by ensuring we do not perpetuate the regime’s decades of repression."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) said the protests demonstrate the failures of a socialist government.

"Protests in Cuba aren’t simply about 'shortages,'" Rubio tweeted. "Socialism promises guaranteed food, medicine, and income if you give up your freedom. When, as always, it fails to deliver, you don’t get your freedom back. That’s why the protestors are chanting 'Libertad.'"

Observers say the islandwide unrest is the largest since the Castro regime took power in 1959.