It makes me laugh to think of establishment Dems reading her tweet last night and groaning, knowing how it’ll be used against them in Florida. That was the site of their biggest disappointment last November with Biden losing decisively in a state that was supposed to be a toss-up and two House seats flipping from blue to red. Party centrists had a ready explanation for that in the aftermath: The Bernie wing of the party was seen as too soft on socialism, which alienated Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dade.
So here comes the most famous young member of the Bernie wing in America, four days after protests erupted, with a statement that denounces the U.S. embargo on Cuba more forcefully than the Castro regime. Remind me, is that what Cubans in the streets are chanting about — the embargo?
Or is it an end to the dictatorship?
At least she finally deigned to say something. Ilhan Omar has yet to comment about Cuba.
We stand in solidarity with the Cuban people and condemn the suppression of the media, speech and protest.
We also call for an end to the U.S. embargo and additional Trump-era restrictions that are profoundly contributing to the suffering of Cubans. pic.twitter.com/Fw6Quv5TAN
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@RepAOC) July 16, 2021
“[S]aying a socialist economy would work great — if only it were allowed to trade with the rich capitalist country nearby is not the killer argument that socialists think it is,” sniffs James Pethokoukis.
Her statement tracks Bernie Sanders’s, who called on the regime to respect the opposition’s rights while taking care to denounce the embargo. That both-sides-ism was also the progressive approach to the wave of anti-semitic attacks in the U.S. following Israel’s brief bout with Hamas in Gaza in May. They couldn’t ignore it, but they didn’t want to cede the moral high ground that comes with victim status by admitting that the other side was being victimized by their own allies. So they both-sides’d it. We condemn anti-semitism, they said — and Islamophobia. Same with the Cuban uprising now.
Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell got elected to Congress in 2018 in Miami by winning narrowly over Republican incumbent Carlos Curbelo. Last year she lost by three and a half points to Republican Carlos Gimenez, who was promoted by WinRed with the slogan, “Can you chip in $5 to help us defeat Castro-loving socialists like Bernie Sanders?” His campaign later demanded to know why Mucarsel-Powell wouldn’t clearly denounce Sanders and pledge not to support him as nominee. There are few Dems in Florida who understand as viscerally as Mucarsel-Powell does, in other words, what a liability the AOC wing of the party is in swing districts. So she felt obliged last night to address Ocasio-Cortez’s statement:
No. This is not correct.
It’s the failed policies of a communist regime that has violated human rights, imprisoned & killed dissidents.
Cuban ppl -young & old- are risking their lives to rise up, we must listen to them.
This is a matter of national security.
The US must act. https://t.co/Wne0crVV8w
— Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (@DebbieforFL) July 16, 2021
Biden and Jen Psaki denouncing communism yesterday felt like a surprise but really shouldn’t given the plight of Mucarsel-Powell. Democrats in Florida are desperate to compete for Cuban-American votes and need the influential moderates in their party to counterprogram the leftists. Nikki Fried, Ron DeSantis’s likely opponent in the next gubernatorial election, notably didn’t qualify her condemnation of the Castro government with complaints about the embargo:
As Florida's only statewide elected Democrat, I want to make this completely clear — @FlaDems stand in solidarity with the Cuban people and against the communist regime that has oppressed them for decades. #SOScuba #PatriaYVida pic.twitter.com/4VdJ3bMERE
— Nikki Fried (@NikkiFried) July 15, 2021
Maybe Fried realizes and AOC doesn’t that shortages in Cuba aren’t always the result of the embargo:
Wait… #Cuba had restrictions on importing food & medicine?
How can that be?
All week long the national media has been reporting it’s the US embargo restricting food & medicine to Cuba.
There is just no way these fine journalists would fall for the regimes spin that easily. pic.twitter.com/LFOkCJDfO4
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) July 15, 2021
The Cuban government had imposed custom duties on certain products to crack down on “mulas,” who bring goods to the island and sell them on the black market. Goods are supposed to be purchased in stores, all of which are owned by the state, of course. Lifting the embargo would help solve the scarcity problem but it would also enrich and possibly further entrench the regime.
And by the way, since when is Ocasio-Cortez opposed to embargoes aimed at wounding a government just because they turn ordinary people into collateral damage?
Also worth noting that AOC suggests that The Embargo is a “cruel” method to punish the Conmunist regime, but has repeatedly defended the antiSemitic BDS movement aiming to punish everyday Israelis for disagreements with the Israeli government.
— AG (@AGHamilton29) July 16, 2021
If you think national boycotts are fair game to pressure foreign regimes on human-rights grounds, I’m keen to hear why the Israeli government is a legitimate target while the Castro government isn’t.
I’m also keen to know why Biden is dragging his feet on at least providing Internet access to the island. Does he fear a refugee crisis if the protests gain momentum and destabilize the regime? Does he fear AOC types grousing at him if the glorious revolution is brought down? What’s the hold-up?
On Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, two Miami GOP House lawmakers and a federal communications official called on the Biden administration to instantly greenlight a special type of high-altitude communications system and other technology that would enable Cuban citizens to evade the communist government’s censorship. It comes after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) met with the White House on Wednesday to make the same ask…
“DeSantis is showing motion, action. It’s what people want,” lamented Carlos Odio, co-founder of Equis Research, a Democratic Latino research firm. “What people are looking for is solidarity with the Cuban people and working toward solutions for the Cuban people.”…
Rubio on Wednesday urged Biden to “immediately authorize and allocate funding to provide emergency connectivity to the internet for Cuba through balloon-supplied internet coverage.” He noted that it can be deployed in relatively short notice.
Demonstrators can’t organize if they can’t talk to each other. Is that what Biden wants?
I’ll leave you with this. The regime needs manpower to help put down a burgeoning insurrection and it’s going to find that manpower one way or another.
— CUBA LIBRÈ MOVEMENT (@CUBAMOVEMENT) July 15, 2021