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President Biden must neither ignore Cuba – nor repeat Obama’s mistakes there

One of the most important issues facing the Biden administration will be how to relate to Cuba.

Cuba continues to practice mass repression using methods of psychological torture employed by far-right fascist regimes.

In March, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the Biden administration wanted to make human rights “a central pillar of US policy,” but did not promise to continue the policies. the Trump administration’s rigorous stance on Cuba. Her ambiguous wording – she said that a change in Cuban policy “is not currently among President Biden’s top priorities” – suggested that there could possibly be a relaxation of the American position.

This is unacceptable. If the Biden administration is sincere about its commitment to human rights, it will immediately reaffirm its unwavering support for freedom in Cuba by rejecting, once and for all, the Obama-era policies that made it possible to the Castro regime to act without control.

As a former senior U.S. official in the Miami-based Cuba Broadcasting office, I spent nearly four years working with Cuban opposition leaders and LGBT activists who have been subjected to psychological torture sponsored by the State.

Cuba is a small island whose prominent citizens often know each other. The Castro regime exploits this by using “neighborhood committees” (committees for the defense of the revolution) to intimidate dissidents in “acts of repudiation”. The committees – in effect, state-sponsored gangs – harass the target’s family and commit acts of vandalism under police protection. One of the objectives is to prevent civilians from registering them.

Some cases, however, are becoming known. Here are a few that recently surfaced on video:

On February 22, the home of activist and single mother Anyell Valdes was invaded by members of a neighborhood committee after allegedly posting a “counter-revolutionary” slogan on her house. The invaders, who climbed a fence, then vandalized Valdès’s house, drugged and painted his dog, poured motor oil on his porch and shouted insults at his crying children.

On February 23, two men beat up Jose Daniel Ferrer, democracy activist and recipient of the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom. He offered food to the poor of Santiago de Cuba.

On March 1, neighborhood committees broke into Yeilis Torres Cruz’s home and frightened his elderly mother because the anti-Castro phrase, “Homeland and Life,” was displayed on her house.

The Castro regime also uses children in its psychological warfare against dissidents. They are sent to churches and dissident homes to chant insults and throw stones, leaving victims reluctant to fight back.

Just as the Nazis dehumanized Jews by calling them “vermin”, the regime calls anti-Castro activists “worms.” The phrase is painted on the homes of dissidents. Oswaldo Paya suffered this humiliation. He was the founder of the Christian Liberation Movement and recipient of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, and later the victim of an apparently state-sponsored assassination.

Cuba also jails people before they commit a crime, simply because they are suspected of “pre-criminal social danger”.

A March 2021 study published by Cuban Prisoner Defenders estimates that up to 11,000 civilians are currently in jail for “social dangerousness”, while Freedom House reports that the Castro regime last year “sparked a wave of intimidation, arbitrary detentions and illegal home arrests ”.

The incarcerated homosexuals underwent medical experimentation in the form of “electroshock therapy”, and the regime drew the prisoners’ blood for sale.

All of these state-sponsored acts degrade the anti-Castro resistance fighters into a lower class, based on supposed “political impurity”.

This ideal of achieving political purity is implicit in the effort to create the communist “new man”. In 1966, Che Guevara described the “true revolutionary” as an “efficient, violent, selective and cold killing machine”.

Contrary to its Marxist-Leninist image, the motto of the Castro regime, “In the revolution everything, against the revolution nothing”, was borrowed from Mussolini’s speech of 1927: “Everything inside the state, nothing in outside the state, nothing against the state ”.

Despite all this, the Obama administration has attempted to normalize relations with Cuba, the abuses of which are reminiscent of the most terrible fascist regimes in history.

It would be counterproductive for Biden to repeat Obama’s policies because the Castro regime is, as Ronald Reagan once described it, “the center of evil in the modern world” – or, at least, in the world. American hemisphere.

Jeffrey Scott Shapiro is a lawyer and former director of the US Bureau of Broadcasting in Cuba.

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