The Cuban Regime Asks Hundreds of Young Foreigners To Spread ‘Cuba’s Truth’ About Palestine

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel criticized the repression of student protests in several American universities

Wearing a Palestinian “keffiyeh” (traditional scarf) around his neck, Díaz-Canel said he felt like a “father” to all Palestinian students on the Island / Presidencia Cuba

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, May 3, 2024 — The Cuban regime is clear about its loyalties in the war in Gaza: Israel is an “occupying power” involved in a “brutal Zionist escalation”; Palestine, a “brother people,” which has sent “hundreds of students” to Cuba and with whom, since the time of Fidel Castro, the Island “has always stood in solidarity.”

These are the words of Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel this Thursday, during a speech in which any mention of the terrorist attack by Hamas on October 7 was omitted. The president, who has offered his unconditional support to the Palestinian side, appeared before more than 1,100 delegates in a “meeting of solidarity” for Cuba and Palestine, “against the imperialism” of the United States and Israel. The highest point of his speech has been, however, his criticism of the repression of student protests at several American universities. As hundreds of Cuban activists have reminded him, his Government applies at home the violence it attributes to other police forces.

Wearing a Palestinian “kiffeyeh” (traditional scarf) around his neck – which he has worn in public since last October – Díaz-Canel said he felt like a “father” to all Palestinian students on the Island and gave the floor to Fernando González Llort, one of the five Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States in 1998, currently the president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples.

Since 2017, González Llort has been the regime’s man when it comes to organizing the groups of foreigners who participate in the mass celebrations, such as the May Day parade. During his speech, he said that the delegates invited to the congress “will be able to convey the truth of Cuba to their communities” and condemned “in energetic terms” the “Israeli genocide against the Palestinian civilian population.” He did not allude to Hamas.

During the meeting, a declaration of support for Palestine was signed demanding that the United Nations recognize a Palestinian State “with the borders prior to 1967 and East Jerusalem as the capital.”

This Wednesday, Cubadebate put on its front page an extensive account of the student protests in the United States signed by the spokesman of the regime Randy Alonso. The journalist argues that this movement is similar to the one that, in the 1960s, demanded the end of the Vietnam War.

Alonso celebrates that, despite being “the main ‘foundations’ of the empire,” universities such as Columbia also host groups that disagree with Washington. These are the people who oppose the “Christian Zionists and fundamentalists” who support Israel, creating an “obscurantist atmosphere.” He also criticizes the fact that several organizations, such as the Wexner Foundation, have broken ties with several faculties that received their funding for the anti-Semitic acts that have taken place in them.

“Either Israel’s Yankee protectorate is defended or you can go to jail,” Alonso concludes, without realizing the irony of writing paragraphs in Cuba in which he lashes out at those who “beat young people, spray them with pepper spray and arrest them.” This Wednesday, in the same line of argument, Díaz-Canel published in his X profile a message of “solidarity with students in the United States who have taken the side of justice, have come out to support the cause of the Palestinian people and are brutally repressed.”

The flood of reactions was not long in coming, and they revolved around the fact that, a few days earlier, the sentence of up to 15 years in prison was announced for those who demonstrated peacefully in Nuevitas, Camagüey, in the summer of 2022.

In Cuban universities, on the other hand, students avoid giving a frank opinion about the conflict

In Cuban universities, on the other hand, students avoid giving a frank opinion about the conflict. On the Island there are no large Jewish communities – and those that exist have already spoken out about the war – but there are many Christian students, especially evangelicals, who feel linked in some way to Israel.

This is the case of Manuel, an evangelical pastor from Villa Clara who listens with concern to what several young university students in his community tell him. They feel “marginalized” for their support of Israel and their opinions about the war, although there has been no “persecution” against them. “The accusation that is repeated in the classrooms is that those who support Israel are religious fanatics, and they are discriminated against for their opinion,” he tells 14ymedio.

“Some time ago they took children and young people to the streets for a kind of act of repudiation against Israel.” The Cuban media does not present “both sides of the conflict; everything is a deception and the information is manipulated,” he adds. The most serious thing, Manuel emphasizes, is that for the Cuban media “there is no longer clarity about who started the conflict and the wave of violence.” In a word, he says, “it is as if Hamas didn’t exist.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


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