The Lives that Really Matter

HAVANA, Cuba. ─ When George Floyd was assassinated in May 2020, many Cubans trimmed their Facebook profiles with references to the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM). Up to that moment, little was known about the organization, founded in 2013, aimed at defending the rights of African Americans and fighting against white supremacy and police violence against Black communities. Allegedly, it was a not-for-profit organization, with a deep humanistic mission that went beyond the issues of race to include also, as part of its premise, the plight of the downtrodden classes and those who are marginalized and whose rights are violated.

In the wake of Mr. Floyd’s brutal death, Cubans of all races expressed their solidarity with the movement, although they never raised their voices or wrote a post on social media, to condemn Cuban police violence when two uniformed cops shot young Hansel Hernández Galiano in the back, in a still-unexplained incident in the Guanabacoa municipality. That attitude revealed the ambivalence of “anti-racist” Cubans, and the same has happened with the leadership of Black Lives Matter in their recent statement about the July 11th protests.

In their declaration –which will forever shame the leadership of the movement- the organization’s spokesmen have aligned themselves with the official discourse of the Cuban dictatorship, blaming exclusively the U.S. embargo for the vulnerable situation facing the island, thus exonerating the Cuban regime from all responsibility for its 62 years of failed tenure. It would seem that no Blacks and no poor Cubans took to the streets in so many neighborhoods throughout Havana. The Cubans who demonstrated up and down the rundown streets of La Cuevita –one of the poorest neighborhoods where Cubans of all races live, but mostly Black and Brown individuals- apparently were not Black.

It’s not about the left or the right. It’s about human decency to take the side of an oppressed people who have endured for years severe social traumas only to watch them swept under the rug because “the time is never right” to discuss them. It should suffice to watch the July 11th videos to corroborate just how many Black-and-Brown Cubans were beaten by the police, and how many were mobilized to repress their brothers and sisters. This has revealed the terrible conflict that confirms just how effectively Cuba’s white government elite has “divided and conquered” and sown hatred between people who once shared a common cause.

With its pronouncement, the present leadership of the BLM has betrayed the organization’s principles. That their agenda is eminently political has become self-evident. Far from a progressive movement, it has become a breeding ground for doctrines that endanger American democracy.  An entity that supports the Castro dictatorship leaves no room for speculation. The progressive side which won BLM so many sympathizers seems to bear the seeds of totalitarianism, a persistent DNA print that spreads everywhere individual liberty shows the slightest weakness.

The lives that matter to the BLM leadership are olive green, the ones that don neat guayaberas to whitewash a corrupt and expansionist military regime. The last thing that seems to concern that leadership is a Black man who has been humiliated, no matter where it may happen. We are confident that many BLM sympathizers do not agree with the organization’s support of the Cuban dictatorship. However, in eight years, BLM has gone from being a true social movement to being a lucrative business, their present leadership bent on reviving resentment between the races, and buying mansions where they can concoct their next campaign, or wait until the next African American is killed by a while policeman to go for the jugular of power in order to impose a single, distorted and virulent vision of a problem that is very complex.

The BLM leadership has shown itself to be like the Castro dictatorship. To choose only one aspect of the truth is not to defend truth, least of all when the aim is to please a political ally. Its statements have deeply disappointed honorable Cubans, both in the island and abroad, who today demand freedom and count many of their brethren among the wounded and disappeared following the protests.

Joe Biden was not the president who called for civil war. It wasn’t the “blockade” that clubbed Cuban citizens on the head. It was not “imperialism” that summoned the pack of special-forces thugs to attack unarmed people, artists, intellectuals, students, physicians, teachers. The White House did not provoke the pain that shakes all of Cuba today, and the present BLM leadership is very cynical to deliberately ignore the excesses of a regime that last July 11th reenacted the abuse perpetrated against George Floyd with hundreds of Cubans.

It matters not whether it was a knee choking the life out of someone, or a club smashing the head of a young man. They were defenseless human being against squadrons of regime supporters willing to kill. If BLM’s leadership cannot see the similarities, then their principles and purpose are false. Humanism has no political color, and it is, by its very nature, immune to brainwashing.

Today’s Black Lives Matter movement has shown a lamentable face.  We will never forget its position against the Cuban people and democracy, shamelessly supportive of the white-supremacist agenda of a dictatorial regime that has kidnapped their country and punished its citizens mercilessly.

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