Plainclothes police detain a protester in Havana, Cuba, on July 11, 2021. (Stringer / Reuters) On the nearby dictatorship; China and Russia; the GOP; Edwin Edwards; a D-Day vet; and more
Protests in Cuba are very rare. It is dangerous to protest in that country. But Cubans are suffering terribly, in the pandemic: a shortage of food and medicine; death all around. They are, in sum, desperate.
Mixed in with material want is the desire to be free, at long last, of dictatorship. Protesters in the street have chanted “Freedom!” “Enough!” “Unity!”
In Venezuela, the dictatorship has been greatly aided by the fact that millions of Venezuelans — perhaps 6 million — have gone into exile. The Cuban dictatorship has been aided by the same phenomenon. If your critics and opponents are in exile — this relieves pressure on you.
In 2014, I met Juan Carlos González Leiva, the blind lawyer who is one of the most heroic dissidents in Cuba. I met him in the Washington, D.C., home of a supporter. “Juan Carlos,” I said, “what are you doing here? Why did they let you out?” He said, in effect, “Are you kidding me?