Prime minister Boris Johnson has come under fire for his comments about the decline of coal mining in the UK. On the surface, it might seem hypocritical for those on the left, and especially environmentalists, to mourn the shutting down of coal pits. But a more nuanced analysis shows that there is, in fact, no contradiction.
On July 29, an Associated Press (AP) article appeared online titled With turmoil at home, more Nicaraguans flee to the U.S. As is so often the case with media reports these days, the article starts off with a melodramatic anecdote that sets the tone and argumentative thrust for the rest of the piece. Emotionally manipulative rhetoric is, after all, more viscerally effective in pulling at the heart strings than facts and figures could ever hope to be. This particular article tells the tale of one Alan Reyes Picado. Picado, the AP tells us, is “one of the thousands of Nicaraguans the U.S. government has encountered at the border in recent months.” Evidently, the report’s author couldn’t even get past the first sentence without laying the blame squarely at the feet of the Sandinista government. The article says that Picado “fled Nicaragua by bus in the middle of the night, haunted by memories of government officials harassing him, throwing him in jail and then leaving him half naked in a dumpster.”
The US government and allies in the right-wing Cuban exile community have been seizing on recent protests in Cuba to further their regime change strategy. And, as would also be expected, the corporate-owned media has largely been parroting this line. Moreover, it’s been leaving out crucial facts that undermine Washington’s narrative.
The most prominent aspect of this lying by omission is a consistent failure to name the biggest cause of suffering for Cubans. And that’s overwhelmingly been a crushing set of US-imposed economic sanctions. Now, a number of NGOs and prominent academics have signed a damning open letter to the US government. It’s calling on president Joe Biden to finally lift sanctions against Cuba.
In the weeks following the protests in Cuba on July 11 questions about how US President Joe Biden would react have dominated headlines. On July 22, Biden seemingly put speculation to rest by announcing that his administration will add a further set of sanctions to the already existing economic embargo. The new sanctions will apply to various figures in the Cuban armed forces as well as Cuba’s Special National Brigade, which is alleged to have engaged in heavy-handed tactics against protesters. The move represents a stunning rebuke to his party’s small progressive wing, which had hoped that he would at least return Cuba policy back to the Obama era by reversing the 243 additional Trump-era sanctions, or perhaps even dropping the embargo altogether. Evidently, however, Biden and the establishment wing of the Democratic Party that he represents are now seizing on the protests as an opportunity to court the right-wing Cuban-American vote in Florida. In the wake of the protests, Politico reported that some Democrats are viewing the situation as a “golden opportunity” to try to win back the former swing state, which went for Trump in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.
US president Joe Biden recently made the first transfer of a Guantanamo Bay detention center detainee since he entered the White House in January. To be clear, this should be welcomed. Guantanamo Bay has become perhaps the most enduring symbol of the excesses and kneejerk trampling over civil liberties that followed the September 11 attacks.
But we also need to state: this is too little, too late. Biden should not just be releasing all Guantanamo detainees but shutting the place down altogether. Moreover, the failure of former president Barack Obama to shut it down exposes how both major US parties cannot be trusted on civil liberties issues.
In the week following the outbreak of protests in Cuba on 11 July, a rapid flow of commentary flooded from the pages of corporate-owned media outlets and the screens of the major US “news” television stations. Predictably, this coverage has both promoted a potential US-led regime change effort and applied gross double standards to Cuba when compared to the US’s treatment of other countries in the region. The two things, of course, are intrinsically linked. If these reports applied their standards evenhandedly then they would inevitably end up presenting regime change as a perfectly reasonable response to mass protests in other Latin American countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Honduras, and Chile. And this, of course, wouldn’t do given that all these countries have right-wing US-aligned governments that loyally serve Washington’s geostrategic interests and obediently follow its preferred neoliberal economic model.
Almost instinctively, many of these reports have paid particular attention to the taking to the streets of right-wing Cuban-American exiles in various US cities, and especially the Mecca of the exile diaspora, Miami. Apparently, these people’s views on Cuba count for a great deal. So much so, that some publications have reported on how the Democrats are seizing on the protests as an opportunity to win back Cuban-American voters in Florida. These reports remind us that this formerly neck-and-neck swing state went for Trump in both the 2016 and 2020, in no small part due to his administration’s toughened stance on Cuba and close relationship with Cuban-American hardliners like Marco Rubio. Politico, for example, tells its readers that Biden’s Cuba policy going forward “could have a big political impact in a state where Democrats are reeling” and that “Florida Democrats see what many are calling a “golden opportunity.””
As with US intervention, this is presented in corporate media accounts as a perfectly natural and reasonable thing to do. But upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that something is very seriously amiss. Because, in reality, predicating policy toward a foreign country based on the interests and political orientation of that country’s immigrant community within the US, rather than those who actually live in that country, is a totally bizarre, not to mention destructive, modus operandi.
As The Canary has extensively reported, since January 2019 Venezuela has been subjected to a US-backed coup attempt. The putsch began when a previously unknown member of Venezuela’s legislature declared himself ‘interim president’. He was quickly recognized as the oil rich South American country’s legitimate leader by the US and most of its Latin American and Western European allies, including the UK government of then-prime minister Theresa May.
As part of the coup attempt, the Bank of England unilaterally froze assets belonging to Venezuela. But the beleaguered nation will soon have the opportunity to recoup its stolen property in court. And as the case’s hearing approaches, the UK government has made one last desperate move. Evidently, it hopes to salvage whatever’s left of its international credibility by avoiding the likely embarrassment of having to hand it back to its rightful owner.
Cuba has recently seen a wave of protests erupt throughout the country. Inevitably, the US is using the protests as fresh justification for heightening its decades-long policies of regime change and coercive sanctions. Some are even calling for direct military intervention into the Caribbean island nation.
On the surface, it might appear perfectly reasonable that the US respond to a wave of protests in a nearby country. But the reality is that the US’s aggressive policies toward Cuba, along with its history of intervention all across Latin America, means that it has zero credibility.
Moreover, a regional comparison with other Latin American countries shows that Washington is highly selective in how it responds to anti-governmental protests. And this ‘selective indignation’ shines a revealing light on the self-serving hypocrisy that lies behind its entire foreign policy stance.
Washington’s Weaponization of Protests in Cuba Takes Its Regime Change Efforts to New Heights of Hypocrisy
On 11 July, Cuba saw thousands of demonstrators take to the streets in cities across the island. The protests are believed to have started in the Artemisa Province before spreading to neighboring Havana and further afield, including Cuba’s second-largest city, Santiago de Cuba. Press reports largely claim that protesters are motivated by shortages and the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
Keir Starmer’s leadership of the Labour Party is already hanging by a thread. Polls have consistently shown him way behind the Tories. And recent by-election results have been disappointing, to say the least. Now, his performance on a BBC Newsline interview has revealed either his shocking ignorance about the peace agreement in Ireland or his lack of concern for its terms. And it would be difficult to know which would be worse.