During a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, President Joe Biden was asked about Cuba, where people are protesting the oppressive Communist regime.
Joe Biden just condemned Communism and Socialism.— Amy Tarkanian (@MrsT106) July 15, 2021
That’s not going to play well with The Squad. pic.twitter.com/VNnaLZstxQ
"Communism is a failed system, universally failed system," Biden admitted. "I don't see socialism as a very useful substitute, but that's another story," he continued without elaborating.
He went on to say that "Cuba is a, uh, unfortunately, a failed state and oppressing their citizens. There are a number of things that we could consider doing to help the people of Cuba, but it would require a different circumstance or a guarantee that they would not be taken advantage of by the government."
Another part of the president's answer touched upon what he says Cubans need, specifically as it pertains to the Wuhan coronavirus, however.
"With regard to the need, COVID, I mean, excuse me, they have a COVID problem, on, in, on Cuba. I'd be prepared to give significant amounts of vaccine if, in fact, I was assured an international organization would administer those vaccines. Um and uh, um, one of the things that uh you did not ask but we're considering is they've cut off access to the Internet. Um, we're considering whether we have the technological ability to reinstate that access. Um, and I think I've answered your questions. Thank you."
A reporter pointed out that "today your press secretary said that Communism is a failed ideology," while also pointing out "I'm assuming that's your view" and asking "if you could give us your view on socialism."
That conversation between Psaki and a reporter from earlier today was very telling:
Q Thank you, Jen. Now that you’ve had a few days to think about it, does this White House still think the protests in Cuba are happening because people are upset about a rise in COVID cases there or is there some thought, maybe, given to the possibility that they’re protesting because they are sick of communism?
MS. PSAKI: Well, Peter, first, I would say: Communism is a failed ideology, and we certainly believe that. It has failed the people of Cuba. They deserve freedom. They deserve a government that supports them, whether that is making sure they have health and medical supplies, access to vaccines, or whether they have economic opportunity and prosperity.
And instead, this has been a government — an authoritarian communist regime — that has repressed its people and has failed the people of Cuba. Hence, we’re seeing them in the streets.
But I would note that the ideology of the government, which has failed, has led to a fail- — a lack of access to economic opportunity, to medical supplies, to COVID vaccines. So all of those pieces are true.
Q And there are protesters now in this country who are chanting, as these protests in Cuba are going on, “Where is Biden?” So, where is he? What is he doing to protect these people who are rising up against the leaders of this failed experiment?
MS. PSAKI: Well, first, he is certainly advocating for and speaking out, as we put out a statement — multiple statements — maybe one of you will ask him a question about Cuba today. I will — I will leave it to all of you to determine that.
But, one, he has made clear that he stands with the Cuban people and their call for freedom from both the pandemic and from decades of repression and economic suffering to which they’ve been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime.
There’s an ongoing review of our own policies. And as we look at those policies, one of the big factors is ensuring we are not doing anything to pad the pockets of a corrupt authoritarian regime. And that is certainly a factor as he’s considering, but we’re looking closely at how we can help in a humanitarian way, how we can help support the voices of the Cuban people, and there’s an ongoing policy review in that regard.
Sunday night gave us this lackluster tweet from Acting Assistant Secretary for U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Julie Chung.
Peaceful protests are growing in #Cuba as the Cuban people exercise their right to peaceful assembly to express concern about rising COVID cases/deaths & medicine shortages. We commend the numerous efforts of the Cuban people mobilizing donations to help neighbors in need.— Julie Chung (@WHAAsstSecty) July 11, 2021
On the official account for Secretary Antony Blinken is a single tweet about Cuba, which is a minute-long video statement.
The United States stands with the Cuban people seeking freedom and respect for their human rights. Violence against peaceful protestors is abhorrent. We urge restraint and respect for the voice of the people. pic.twitter.com/XYoKAM42XM— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) July 12, 2021
During Monday's press conference, Psaki said "there is every indication that yesterday's protests were spontaneous expressions of people who are exhausted with the Cuban government's economic mismanagement." She did not mention "Communism."
Further, the Biden administration is also facing backlash due to comments from Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of the Department of Homeland Security, who announced Cubans and Haitians would not be granted asylum. "Allow me to be clear: if you take to the sea, you will not come to the United States," he said.
In contrast, however, Republicans were quick to announce their support for the Cuban people, including first and foremost Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Madeline also highlighted many others here.