During Joseph Stalin’s 30 year reign as dictator of the Soviet Union, he did many things to keep himself in power. He was well known for censoring the truth and controlling information. But one underplayed strategy used by him, one that some tyrants still use today, was using naive outsiders to mask the truth of what was truly going on. Hitler used Nazi sympathizers such as Edward the Eighth, who was King of England for less than a year until he abdicated the throne. Last year when running for President, Bernie Sanders (who infamously went to the Soviet Union for his honeymoon) openly praised Cuba’s literacy program and healthcare system. Tyrants like Hitler and Castro use these outsiders to manipulate the truth and signal to the world that things aren’t that bad in their countries.
Stalin used leftists in the U.S. who sympathized with socialism to spread the lie that Marxism was working in the Soviet Union when in actuality millions were dying of starvation. In the same way, I’m seeing a continuation of this strategy in Cuba. For example, the Democratic Socialists of America put out a statement shortly after protests broke out in Cuba, placing blame on the United States and its embargo for Cuba’s decades of economic suffering. This narrative is continuing to flow throughout the internet. To say that Cuba is suffering because of the embargo is misinformation.
Using outsiders to mask the truth is just another play pulled out of the tyrant playbook. The reason I find this especially alarming today is because there are members of Congress who sympathize with socialist policies similar to those in Cuba, who have either been quiet about the protests or continue to blame the embargo. Americans need to know they should take Democratic Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s views on Cuba with a grain of salt.
The news media also has to clearly report on what’s going on. I was frustrated to see many in the media reporting lukewarm statements that Cubans were protesting against the government’s response to COVID and vaccine distribution. This may have been a factor, but the spark of the protests was undoubtedly over how tired Cubans are of a 62-year old Communist, oppressive regime. Cubans are not simply chanting “freedom and other anti-government slogans” as the New York Times reported. That NYT headline reminded me of another NYT headline from the 1930s. Walter Duranty, who was the NYT’s Bureau Chief in Moscow at the time, was manipulated by Stalin and reported many lies about the Soviet Union, one including that said “Russians [were] hungry but not starving” under Stalin’s regime. In fact, Duranty won a Pulitzer Prize for his false reporting (He was later revoked of the prize). The media must not be afraid to tell the truth about what’s really going on in Cuba.
The truth is that Cubans are protesting a dictatorship, not an embargo. The embargo has done very little to hurt the Cuban economy. In fact, the embargo doesn’t block the trade of food or humanitarian supplies, despite what others might say. The whole irony of this is that the embargo didn’t ban civil liberties such as freedom of the press and the freedom of speech. The communist regime that continues to be in power did that.
Saying the US embargo is the reason Cubans are suffering is not only misinformation, it’s falling to tyrannical propaganda. It also means complicity and tolerance of the failed systems that are socialism and communism. I’m tired of this argument used by Democratic Socialists, leftists who sympathize with socialism, and Latin American pro-communists in places like Chile and Peru.
We need to call this out as it is, because what’s going on in Cuba should not be a left or a right issue, it’s a human rights issue. This is a fight for freedom. If the Cuban regime falls, this will be a domino effect for the rest of the Latin American region, where socialism is on the rise again. We should be rooting for the end of Communism in Cuba once and for all.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.