Díaz Canel’s Ten Lies

Ignacio Ramonet and Miguel Díaz-Canel during an interview which took place on May 11 at the Palace of the Revolution.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yunior García Aguilera, Madrid, 21 May 2024 — Some Cubans have dubbed Ignacio Ramonet the “French Randy Alonso,” a reference to the host of the Cuban TV interview show “Roundtable” and his sagging face. The truth is that Ramonet was born in Spain, raised in Morocco and educated in France, where he has lived for years. The sociologist has made good use of his status as a European intellectual to land a seat at the kitchen tables of Latin America’s dictatorships. His French passport and résumé have allowed him to cozy up with Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez and their heirs. No matter how undemocratic or repressive a regime might be, Ramonet manages to plant his flag there. Acting on behalf of the rubes of the contemporary feudal left, he is a colonizer of thought.

Ramonet’s recent interview with Raúl Castro’s hand-picked successor was rife with excuses and omissions. The Cuban bureaucrat recited the well-worn script without contributing a single new idea. What was most insulting, however, were his lies. After enduring almost two hours of an exchange that seemed more like a self-help session, I have summarized ten of the most outrages falsehoods.

1. 2030 Will Be Better

Cubans are sick of hearing that this year was bad but next year will be better. We heard it repeated, December after December, by the former economics minister, Alejandro Gil, whom the Cuban president avoided talking about during his complacent chat with Ramonet. Now we learn Díaz-Canel is postponing this idyllic future until 2030, with promises of renewable energy, a digitalized society and food security. You don’t have to be a fortune teller to predict what the speech in December 2030 will be if this bumbling and cynical regime is still in power.

2. The Anniversary Tour

When asked by Ramonet about his recent trip to Moscow, Díaz-Canel described it as “an anniversary tour.” He did a quick calculation and immediately went into a juggling act, trying explain away the gaffe. The fact is that he and his wife, Liz Cuesta, are celebrating their fifteenth wedding anniversary this year. The first lady does not accompany him on domestic tours but she is the first to sign up for every international trip the appointed president makes. Evidently, Moscow was her anniversary gift.

3. Cuba’s Role in the Putin Alliance

It is obvious from his response, however, what specific role Cuba plays for Putin. It is useful enough as pawn to be invited to the victory parade but not so useful as to attend the inauguration. For such solemn domestic occasions Putin prefers the company of others. Like Steven Seagal for example.

4. The BRICS* “Alternative”

Alternative is a difficult word to pronounce but what fascinates Díaz-Canel is not BRICS’ potential to foster development in its member states but rather the threat it represents to American hegemony and the dollar. It is not about what it can contribute but rather how it can stick it to the regime’s longtime enemy. No matter how “inclusive” BRICS may seem, there is nothing to indicate it is ready to shoulder a ruined economy like Cuba’s.

5. Creative Resistance

When Díaz-Canel and his retinue visit the hinterlands, they do not allow local officials to use the U.S. embargo as justification for their shortcomings. What is required down in the trenches is “creative resistance,” pure and simple. When it is their turn to take responsibility, however, they never hesitate to whip out the ever-handy “blockade” umbrella. The word was mentioned about forty times in this interview alone. The basic message boils down to this: I can use the blockade as an excuse but you may not.

6. A Tighter “Blockade”

There are people in this world who truly believe that a fleet of American ships is encircling Cuba, preventing deliveries of food and medicine to the island. With all the talk about the “blockade,” not even Cubans themselves fully understand the implications of the embargo. That is why they are surprised when they see the “Made in USA” label on the packages of chicken they consume. What Díaz-Canel did not say is that the United States continues to be one of Cuba’s main trading partners according to data provided by the country’s National Office of Statistics and Information.

In terms of trade volume with Cuba, the superpower to the north ranks fourth among countries in the Americas and eighth globally. Not only did this commercial activity not fall in 2019, it actually grew to more than 308 million dollars. In 2022, the U.S. embargo was tightened so much that the figure grew to more than 391 million dollars.

What Díaz-Canel never mentioned was the disastrous implementation of Cuba’s currency unification rollout and its direct relationship to the subsequent inflation and general deterioration of the Cuban economy.

7. Social Justice

Díaz-Canel and his troops like to champion flashy reform measure and want to eliminate of freebies and subsidies. While there is a lack of resources for investments in healthcare and education, it is no secret that they find creative ways to fund hotel construction. Publicly, they often use demagogic terms like “social justice” but in the 2023 “Projections of Cuban Communist Party Central Committee” the phrase was conspicuous in its absence. Instead, they preferred to talk about “vulnerability” and reducing expenses without daring to mention the word “poverty.”

8. Management of the Pandemic

Raúl’s appointee does not know how to pronounce the word “epidemiology” yet still insists on boasting about his success at fighting COVID-19. He intentionally ignores the fact that the country closed its borders quite late in the pandemic. This was after claiming that the virus could not survive the Caribbean sun. He also intentionally avoids mentioning that, in 2021, there were 55,000 more deaths in Cuba than in the previous year though authorities claim only 8,500 died from coronavirus. And he intentionally hides the fact that the gross mortality rate that year was 14.68 per thousand inhabitants, much worse than rates in the United States, Brazil, and even Haiti.

9. The Right to Protest

The first to lie was Ramonet, claiming that, while the 11 July 2021 protests were unusual, they were not massive. What is undeniable, however, is that not even during the Machado and Batista regimes was there ever such a large outpouring of public discontent as occurred on “11J.” But Díaz-Canel raised the bar for cynicism by claiming that this was also the result of the “blockade,” adding that protest was a respected right, even if protestors were demonstrating against the Revolution.

Díaz-Canel’s lie is contradicted by the Archipelago initiative and the ill-fated Civic March, which was scheduled for November 2021. Even asking for permission two months in advance, and strictly meeting all requirements needed to hold a demonstration, were not enough. Instead , we were met with direct threats from the military, acts of repudiation, persecution, political repression and exile.

There are over a thousand political prisoners in Cuba, the most in the region. Hundreds of people have been sentenced merely for taping protests or defending themselves against brutal crackdowns during which shots were fired. In one instance, a young man died after being shot in the back.

10. Sitting Down with Biden

Lastly, this Castro figurehead announced that he is willing to talk with Biden even though throughout the interview he described the U.S. government as arrogant, stubborn and corrupt. He also stated that the purpose of this negotiation would be to end sanctions while stipulating that Cuba would not make a single concession. His facial expression betrayed a visceral hatred towards those he called perverts as well as towards the Cuban exile community living in the United States.

This time, Díaz-Canel did not play his usual hand. He didn’t need to. Ramonet was his teleprompter, continually nodding, completing his sentences and generally being extremely accommodating. This time, Ramonet was his card.

*Translator’s note: An acronym for a group of emerging market countries that includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa. It seeks to deepen ties between member states and foster economic cooperation and expansion. Its goal is to serve as a counterbalance to traditional Western influence.


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