Black Lives Matter misses the point about Cuba

Although the embargo has undoubtedly played a role in the economic woes of Cuba, the main obstacle to Cuban development and prosperity is the government’s model of a state-controlled economy, a system in which Cubans cannot materialize their entrepreneurial energy, in which a policing regime frequently stops Black Cubans, and in which everyday items are hard to find.

Not surprisingly, Havana’s primarily Black neighborhoods, the most neglected in the city, are the epicenters of the largest recent demonstrations, as footage shows. In some of them, such as La Güinera, Centro Habana, Diez de Octubre, Cerro, and La Habana Vieja, we’ve seen clashes between demonstrators and the police and members of the government posing as civilians. As a result, Black Cubans, along with compatriots of all races, are disproportionately being beaten, brutalized, and jailed for protesting. The government is publicly calling them “thugs” and “criminals” in the state-controlled media. The Cuban government has officially acknowledged the death of Diubis Laurencio Tejeda, a young Black man from La Güinera who died during a confrontation with the police.

BLM certainly has a role to play in Cuba. But its purpose in issuing the statement has nothing to do with Cuba itself. The organization is using the Cuban movement to criticize the U.S. government and its foreign policy. It praised former President Barack Obama for lifting sanctions against Cuba, which his successor later reversed, and which the Biden administration has been slow to amend.