The Assembly of the Cuban Resistance, an organization comprised of multiple anti-communist groups on the island and in the diaspora, organized an event on Sunday in support of Ukraine amid its ongoing war with Russia.
Russia is one of the Communist Party of Cuba’s closest allies and patrons. Cuba is believed to owe Russia about $2.3 billion, according to the Spain-based online newspaper Diario de Cuba, in addition to a $30-billion debt from the Soviet era that Russian leader Vladimir Putin forgave in 2014. Russia’s lawmaking body, the Duma, voted shortly before launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine to allow Cuba to defer payments on its debts through 2027.
In likely related developments, the Cuban government has enthusiastically supported Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. The official stance of the Cuban Foreign Relations Ministry regarding Putin announcing an operation to “de-Nazify” Ukraine by toppling its democratically elected, Jewish President Volodymyr Zelensky has been to blame the United States for any hostilities in the region and equate opposition to the Russian action to the ongoing but easily thwarted economic embargo on Cuba. The official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, Granma, has published articles proclaiming Fidel Castro’s alleged love of Ukraine and accusing Zelensky of conspiring with international mercenary groups.
The Assembly of the Cuban Resistance organized its “Todos Somo Ucrania” (“We Are All Ukraine”) rally on Sunday in Tamiami Park, prominently featuring members of the Political Prisoner House, an organization for Cuban former political prisoners. The event was held in Spanish. In addition to members of the Cuban-American community, other Latin American groups, notably Nicaraguan-Americans, were present at the event. Organizers draped Tamiami Park in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag, the Cuban flag, and the flag of Taiwan, a sovereign, democratic nation off the coast of China that the Communist Party there regularly threatens with invasion.
Silvia Iriondo, a member of the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance and speaker at the event, described the heightened interest in the Cuban exile community and Hispanic community generally towards the war in Ukraine as the product of having “a common denominator: communism, which implanted itself on our island 63 years ago and threatens brother peoples in our hemisphere like Nicaragua, Venezuela, Colombia.”
“Why is this so important to our community? Because our community is full of victims of this atheist communism that today through Russia and Putin batters the Ukrainian people, murders innocents, murders children,” Iriondo explained.
Orlando Gutiérrez-Boronat, the co-founder and spokesman of the Cuban Democratic Directorate (Directorio), warned that allowing Russia to successfully end Zelensky’s presidency would have global repercussions.
“For the people of Cuba, for the people of Nicaragua, for Venezuela, for all the oppressed people, there is a fundamental message. What President Putin has proposed is the right of a great power to eliminate the national existence of a nation that has self-realized democratically,” Gutiérrez-Boronat said. “He has given himself the right, he said yesterday, to threaten Ukrainians with erasing their identity as a state. If that principle is accepted, there is no individual right in the world that is safe.”
In remarks to Breitbart News, Gutiérrez-Boronat stated that America’s Hispanic community sees the invasion of Ukraine by Putin as a threat to themselves.
“Cubans and Latinos care about this because what is at stake is the principle of the right to self-rule in your own land, to democratic self determination, to citizen sovereignty,” he said, “which are the indispensable corollaries of individual freedom. Ukrainians are heroically fighting for the freedom that Cubans yearn for.”
Gutiérrez-Boronat added, “The same economic sanctions applied to Russia should be applied to its closest ally in the Western Hemisphere: the Communist regime in Cuba.”
While Cuban state media and the Communist Party’s diplomatic apparatus have attempted to use the Ukrainian war to galvanize anti-American sentiment – particularly in light of the nationwide anti-communist protests in July 2021 – some evidence suggests the campaign is failing. Cuban state security agents arrested an activist last week, identified as Pablo Enrique Delgado Hernández, for bringing roses to the Ukrainian embassy in Havana as a symbol of solidarity.
“I told the diplomat that this gesture and these flowers brought with them the feelings of a great part of the Cuban people, who are convinced that, if the [Cuban] regime allowed people to express themselves, this Fifth Avenue [where the embassy is located] would be too small,” Delgado said following his brief arrest. “Cubans understand that Ukraine is an aggrieved nation.”