Let’s Get Real: May Day is Marx Day

As the New York Times absurdly celebrates communism in its op-ed published on April 30th, it is worth remembering that the May 1st “holiday” of May Day – also called International Workers Day – was itself originally promulgated by Marxists. Outlets like USA Today, NBC News, and others are happily touting the May Day protests that will be occurring across the United States as just another iteration of the anti-Trump demonstrations that have become so common, but history shows us the more sinister origins of the modern holiday. May Day was co-opted from an ancient European spring festival by the Second International, a global socialist & communist movement formed in Paris on July 14, 1889 that would pick the 1st of May as the date for an international holiday to advocate for socialist ideals. The International Workingmen’s Association, also called the First International (from which the Second International would directly spring), was founded in London on September 28, 1864 and would soon be led by none other than Karl Marx himself — author of the Communist Manifesto and intellectual forefather of the socialist & communist movements. It’s also worth noting that the Third International, also called the Communist International or Comintern, would be founded on March 2, 1919 and would be led Vladmir Lenin as he climbed to power within the new Soviet Union. The Comintern would advocate for the spread of worldwide communism and would only be dissolved in 1943 by Joseph Stalin himself as he consolidated his own grip on power in Soviet Union. A direct line runs from the First International & Karl Marx to the Second International & May Day to the Comintern & Lenin & Stalin.

May Day was generally celebrated with massive marches, demonstrations, & parades throughout communist countries like the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, & Cuba (and still is in some communist hangers-on). May Day Parades would be especially critical to the propaganda machine of the Soviet Union throughout its existence, giving a succession of Soviet dictators the chance to rally their people and showcase military hardware with massive parades consisting of soldiers, red flags, tanks, missiles, and gigantic banners of Lenin & Stalin paraded through the Red Square in Moscow. Examples of the Soviet May Day Parade can be seen here, here, and here. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the final Soviet May Day Parade would be held in 1991. But as Vladmir Putin consolidated his grip on power inside Russia and began invading his neighbors (like Ukraine), he decided to bring back the May Day Parade in 2014 for the very first time since the Soviet Union’s collapse (and it has now been held annually in 2015, 2016, & 2017 as well). Little wonder that Putin — the man who considered the fall of the Soviet Union the worst geopolitical disaster of the 20th century — would want to revive some old Soviet traditions. So now, a holiday started by a communist organization and celebrated by a communist nation has been revived by a strongman who misses the days of communism past. And this beloved communist ideal — originally sparked by Karl Marx, carried out by madmen like Stalin & Mao & Pol Pot, and missed dearly by lovely folks like Putin — is responsible for the deaths of one hundred million people.

As one fan of Marx put it in The Guardian on May Day in 2015:

“Every year, on May Day a spectre comes to haunt us. The spectre of Karl Marx. He’s been coming since 1889, when the Second International first chose 1 May as the date for International Workers’ Day. And although we understand that he’s the brains behind the show, we don’t like him hanging around. His presence makes us uncomfortable. He reminds us of difficult things. Over the years, we’ve done our best to exorcise him. Hitler buried him under the Day of National Work. Khrushchev engulfed him in elaborate parades. The Catholic church disguised him as Joseph, the patron saint of workers. Franco outlawed him altogether. Some countries appeased him with a public holiday; others, like Britain and Ireland, preferred to confuse him with the first Monday of the month. It’s time we faced up to the ghost: May Day is Marx Day, whether we like it or not.”

Indeed. The wide global acceptance of May Day has been triumphantly called “the only unquestionable dent made by a secular movement in the Christian or any other calendar.” So remember: at its core, May Day isn’t about May Poles — it’s about Marx. Might I suggest celebrating Loyalty Day instead?

Vietnamese-Born State Senator Thrown Out of Chamber for Honoring Victims of Communism

California State Senator Janet Nguyen (R-Santa Ana) was silenced and forcibly removed from the Senate chamber on Thursday, February 23rd, for honoring the victims of communism in her native Vietnam. Her floor speech coincided with the honoring of late State Senator, former husband of actress Jane Fonda, and Viet-Cong apologist Tom Hayden. Her’s her full remarks, titled “An Adjournment in Memory of Fallen Vietnamese And Refugees Seeking Freedom and Democracy“:

I and the children of the former South Vietnam soldiers will never forget the support of former Senator Tom Hayden for the Communist government of Vietnam and the oppression by the Communist Government of Vietnam for the people of Vietnam.

After 40 years, the efforts by people like him have hurt the people of Vietnam and have worked to stop the Vietnamese refugees from coming to the United States, a free country. We will always continue to fight for freedom and human rights for the people of Vietnam.

Members, I recognize today in memory of the million of Vietnamese and the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees who died seeking freedom and democracy. I recognize that on Tuesday you had an opportunity to honor Senator Tom Hayden. With all due respect, I would like to offer another historical perspective.

On Tuesday, instead of participating, I chose to step out of the chamber out of respect to his family, his friends and to you. In contrast to your comments on Tuesday, I want to share what Senator Hayden meant to me and to the over 500,000 Vietnamese Americans who call California their home, as well as to the over 1 million Vietnamese Americans across the United States.

As you may be aware, Tom Hayden chose to work directly with the Communist North Vietnamese Government to oppose the efforts of United States forces in South Vietnam.

Mr. Hayden sided with a communist government that enslaved and/or killed millions of Vietnamese, including members of my own family. Mr. Hayden’s actions are viewed by many as harmful to democratic values and hateful towards those who sought the very freedoms on which this nation is founded.

Were it not for the efforts of the thousands of men and women who served bravely in the United States military and the South Vietnamese military, as well as the efforts of millions of Vietnamese citizens who resisted the communists, I would not be standing here on this Senate floor humbly representing the residents of the 34th District.

In addition to the sacrifices made during war, the efforts of President Ronald Reagan in the 1980’s allowed many Vietnamese like me to seek refuge in the United States.

In contrast to the great many people who fought to defend freedom and democracy, Mr. Hayden supported a Communist agenda and traveled to North Vietnam during the war.

He believed that those who protested the human-rights violations of the Communists were tools of the CIA. It is known that he believed that the war was a conflict between Imperialism, led by the United States and the “free” people of North Vietnam. Former Senator Hayden was profoundly wrong in his support of the Communist.

Members, to this day, the government of Vietnam continues to violate the basic human rights of its citizens. They systematically continue to oppress freedoms of expression, religion and assembly and incarcerate those who speak out for freedom and democracy.

Thank you for allowing me to make my comments. I proudly stand before you as a Vietnamese-American who appreciates the freedoms that so many around the world do not enjoy.

Here’s a full video of the senator being forcibly removed from the Senate chamber:

 

Here’s a Twitter recap of the incident:

Nguyen and her family fled communist Vietnam in 1981 and landed in the U.S. as political refugees shortly later. They eventually landed in Garden Grove, a city in Orange County, CA home to many Asian Americans (especially Vietnam). Today, she represents California’s 34th Senate District and is the first Vietnamese-American person to hold such a position. Added bonus: Nguyen is a Republican and has identified as such for a long time. Why? Per an interview in the L.A. Times, she noted: “Republicans always have been anti-communist.” Imagine that?

Nguyen won her State Senate seat in 2015 by a 58-42% vote in a reliably blue district–a race that was viewed as an upset. In 2015, she led the effort to protect the American flag at public universities in California following the incident at UC-Irvine where students voted to ban the flag on campus.

As a fellow child of anti-communists and as a fellow Orange County, CA native, I applaud Senator Nguyen for boldly standing up to her colleagues in the California Senate chamber. Perhaps there is some hope in California? We shall see..

Fidel’s Hearse Breaks-Down Mid-Parade

Alternate Title: Deceased Despot’s Delivery Delayed by Dilapidation

2016 may have been a cruel mistress but at least she gives us some gems like this on occasion!

They had to push it all the way to the cemetery!

It’s hard to come up with a better metaphor for the failure of communism than this!

Fidel Castro’s Bloody Legacy Cannot Be Whitewashed

Earlier today, it was announced that former Cuban dictator and avowed communist Fidel Castro died at the age of 90.

Celebrations broke out in Miami, Florida, and elsewhere as Cuban exiles rejoiced in the news. The man who wrought pain and suffering on them and their homeland is finally dead. Survivors of communism, their descendants, and other pro-freedom advocates took it to social media to remind people how brutal and inhuman Castro’s policies were:

As expected, leftist figures from across the globe offered sappy condolences to the Castro family. These included remarks from President Obama, Russian Prime Minister Medvedev, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Canadian PM  Justin Trudeau, among many:

Why the praise for Castro if history demonstrates otherwise? Here’s a breakdown of Castro’s bloody past and his dealings:

Castro originally had the support of Americans, wrote Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby. Here’s more on it:

The United States welcomed Castro’s ouster of Batista and was one of the first nations to recognize the new government in 1959. It was not until 1961 that President Eisenhower — reacting to “a long series of harassments, baseless accusations, and vilification” — broke diplomatic ties with Havana. By that point Castro had nationalized all US businesses in Cuba and confiscated American properties worth nearly $2 billion.

Castro’s policies led to the deaths of an estimated 35,000 to 141,000 Cubans from 1959-1987, per the late University of Hawaii professor RJ Rummel (who specialized in democide, or state-sanctioned murder). 73,000 Cuban deaths is the consensus number reached by the majority of experts.

Castro turned Cuba into a police state. The Guardian wrote, “While Castro became a figurehead for revolutionary armed struggle throughout and beyond Latin America, the former guerrilla was far from universally popular in his home country once he turned his hand to government. Property appropriations, restrictions on religion and crackdowns on suspected enemies left many, particularly in the old middle class, hating him – a sentiment that has spanned the generations.”

Castro was a racist, sexist, homophobe, and all-around xenophobe. Here’s more about racism in Castro’s Cuba from the NYT:

Racism in Cuba has been concealed and reinforced in part because it isn’t talked about. The government hasn’t allowed racial prejudice to be debated or confronted politically or culturally, often pretending instead as though it didn’t exist. Before 1990, black Cubans suffered a paralysis of economic mobility while, paradoxically, the government decreed the end of racism in speeches and publications. To question the extent of racial progress was tantamount to a counterrevolutionary act. This made it almost impossible to point out the obvious: racism is alive and well.
….

An important first step would be to finally get an accurate official count of Afro-Cubans. The black population in Cuba is far larger than the spurious numbers of the most recent censuses. The number of blacks on the street undermines, in the most obvious way, the numerical fraud that puts at less than one-fifth of the population. Many people forget that in Cuba, a drop of white blood can — if only on paper — make a mestizo, or white person, out of someone who in social reality falls into neither of those categories. Here, the nuances governing skin color are a tragicomedy that hides longstanding racial conflicts.

Before gloating over Castro’s supposed “golden” legacy, learn the actual facts about this tyrant. He is not worthy of celebrating. His legacy is tainted with blood, hatred, and disdain for freedom.

Although freedom may not come to Cubans in the immediate future, Castro’s death can serve as an impetus for them to reclaim their homeland from dictatorship. Viva Cuba Libre!

Son of Cuban Dissident Ted Cruz Schools Prankster With ‘Communist Manifesto’

At a campaign event in Indiana yesterday, U.S. Senator and GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz (R-TX) was met by an attendee who asked him to sign a copy of The Communist Manifesto as a joke.

Initially taken aback by the unusual request, Cruz was a good sport and decided to oblige. Here’s what came about from that exchange:

 

The message reads: “Millions have suffered because of this.”

Red-baiting? More like masterful trolling!

Cruz is proud to tout his anti-communist roots since he’s a son of a Cuban dissident. He knows firsthand how evil and devastating the ideology of communism was in the 20th century. (Contrary to historical revisionists, it’s still a threat in the present day–just look at college campuses and pop culture.) He understands the dangers of big government, fascism, and totalitarianism today thanks to his upbringing. His main very orange-hued challenger, however, previously denigrated victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre as rioters and has expressed admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Too many people fail to think big picture with respect to freedom versus tyranny. Socialism is sadly making a comeback among members of my generation, but it must be countered. Tyranny of all shapes and stripes should be wholly rejected in this country.

Those of us who grew up with parents who fled communism–my parents and Senator’s Cruz’ father included–see the threat of tyranny today. I recommend supporting groups like the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation to help educate our peers about the dangers of global communism. It needs to be wholly condemned like National Socialism has.

Soviet Refugees and Their Children Actually Dislike Trump, Sanders

There is an interesting article in The Atlantic this week examining the voting patterns of older Russian-American immigrants who escaped the Soviet Union. It’s titled, “Why Russian Immigrants Hate Bernie Sanders and Love Donald Trump“. Naturally, it piqued my interest given my family history and parents’ similar journey from Soviet-occupied Lithuania to the United States 30 years ago. So I read the article and did my best to absorb the subject matter.

This voting bloc, though small, inclines themselves to conservatism given how skeptical they are of big government, unwarranted 24/7 surveillance, high taxes, and anti-life measures. Those who’ve lived under tyranny–my parents included–refuse to support anyone (Left or Right) who seeks to resurrect this here in the United States.

The article gives an interesting glimpse into Russian-Jewish immigrants currently residing in the Bay Area, who echo similar sentiments to their compatriots residing in New York City. The majority of those profiled in the article were fiercely anti-communist, non-religious/religious, or politically conservative. They didn’t offer positive words for either Clinton or Sanders. When pressed about whom they supported for president on the Republican side, there responses were more mixed. Several expressed support for Ted Cruz, while others expressed support for Donald Trump.

The article did a decent job of demonstrating this group’s generally conservative inklings, but fell short on a few things:

Not all refugees from the former Soviet Union are Russian-Jewish but most are skeptical of tyrannical policies

While it’s easy to paint all Eastern European folks with the same broad brush–an egregious offense if applied to non-Russians–it failed to make this differentiation clear. Not all those who lived in the Soviet Union are ethnically Russian. Yet, a good portion of those who fled the Soviet Union, including Russia, generally vote Republican and identify as conservatives, libertarians, or anti-communists. Remember–the former Soviet Union occupied 15 different autonomous countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. The Kremlin imposed the Russian language on those it occupied, which is why many Americans assume every Eastern European person is Russian. (That’s not the case.) The Soviets notoriously oppressed all ethnicities, religions, or individuals deemed enemies of the state. Not all those residing in the Soviet Union were Russian, but had to reluctantly adopt the Russian language and culture to survive. This point should have been communicated better.

American voters from the former Soviet Union aren’t politically uniform, though they generally vote Republican 

While most voters comprising this group are generally anti-communist and skeptical of big government, it’s not uniformly conservative. As stated above, those who are more religious and conservative tend to prefer candidates like Ted Cruz. Those who generally aren’t religious nor politically active feel inclined to support Trump. And a good chunk of Soviet émigrés, especially those who had black market dealings or were part of academia, vote Democrat. Several interviewees lamented their children succumbing to “brainwashing” from American higher education–an alarming trend that immigrant children are becoming more removed from their parents’ experiences behind the Iron Curtain. While this voting bloc isn’t uniform, they generally pull the leaver for Republicans given their past experiences in the Old Country.

Soviet refugees (and their children) dislike big government statists and crony capitalists equally

Both big government and crony capitalist entities thrive off of government to survive and exist at the expense of taxpayers–but through slightly different means. The former wants the destruction of free enterprise, while the other system seeks to exploit free enterprise through government means. Bernie Sanders is an avowed student of Eugene V. Debs, a 20th-century era politician who ran for president under the Communist Party banner. Hillary Clinton is an avowed Alinskyite. Alternatively, “anti-establishment” American oligarch Donald Trump has been funding Democrats for 40 years, employs mob tactics, and doesn’t have one genuine once of conservatism in him. All three candidates have left a bad taste in Soviet refugees’ mouths (and millions of other mouths), politically-speaking.

Conrad Mazeika, 32, is a realtor based out of Orange County, California, who is skeptical about the Democrat candidates and Donald Trump. His family fled Soviet-occupied Lithuania prior to the USSR’s collapse. His great-grandfather Mykolas Biržiška signed onto Lithuania’s first Declaration of Independence on February 16, 1918.

“”Vienas velnias joja kitas velnias vairuoja” which translates to one devil comes in by horse and other devil comes in by car. This was in reference to the Nazi and Soviet political propaganda during World War II,” said Mazeika. “Lithuanians knew the game of both Socialists and Communists.”

Given his family history, he supports and plans to vote for Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in California’s June 7th primary.

Washington, D.C. area resident and Russian-Jewish immigrant Lena Kirochko-Murray came to the U.S. with her parents from St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1989 at the age of 19. She founded an art school in New York City in 2001 called Bridgeview School of Fine Arts, which is primarily led by other Soviet immigrants from Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Russia, and Estonia. She, too, expressed doubt in all three candidates.

“I agree we have problems, but I do not agree with Bernie’s or Hillary’s solutions, which is more government and even more federal government,” Kirochko-Murray said. “Until recently, we had a choice of moving around if you liked hippie Vermont or conservative Texas. The federal government is determined to take away that diversity by imposing the same thing on every single state. I am for limited federal government, whose primary goal is to protect me, a U.S. citizen, from foreign attacks. Everything else should be left to the states.”
Kirochko-Murray also expressed doubt in Trump because of his mobster ties and similarities to Russian oligarch Vladimir Putin.
“My main problem with Trump is his attack on freedom of speech by threatening libel suits,” she said. “I also have my suspicions about Trump’s omnivorous connections, like his ties with Brighton mafia businessmen. Actually, similar to Hillary Clinton, only she does it in politics, and he does it in business.”
George Barros is an American of immediate Ukrainian descent who is also skeptical of the Democrats and Trump. He previously worked on Capitol Hill for a Republican congressman who served on the House Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats.
“I strongly dislike both Trump and Sanders because they both, in many respects, encompass everything that was wrong with the USSR,” he said.
Barros added, “Sanders has fully embraced Soviet agitprop-style class warfare, cultural Marxism, and critical theory propaganda in his campaign methodology and rhetoric. In other words, instead of building bridges between the different echelons in American society, Sanders promotes instability by fueling the flames of social tension by playing the Soviet-style blame game–in economic, gender, and racial issues.”
“Throughout his career Sanders has not left a single opportunity to use Soviet-style agitprop to rile “the proletariat” unexploited,” Barros said. “Sanders is overtly anti-Western and uses the very propaganda techniques perfected by the Kremlin to undermine the West. Sanders wants to destroy the perceived “moral injustices” stemming from American income inequality, just as the Vladimir Lenin and Stalin so desired to do in the USSR. Just like Stalin, Sanders wants to use intimidation and the application of violence to deprive private citizens of their rightfully earned private property.”
 “Deprivation of property rights and forced collectivization intentionally resulted with over 11 million Ukrainian deaths. Stalin did not respect property rights, and neither does Sanders. As a descendant of Holodmor survivors, it worries me greatly that Americans are becoming progressively more comfortable with sacrificing the rights of the individual for the perceived “greater good” of the collective,” he added
Barros also cautioned fellow conservatives to be skeptical of Trump by not falling for his “strong-man” ways.
“Trump is an authoritarian who loves communist and Russian-style authoritarianism. This is overtly obvious from Trump’s endearing comments about Vladimir Putin and the Chinese government’s show of “strength” in the Tiananmen Square Massacre,” Barros said.
“For those conservatives craving a Putin style leader, please keep in mind that Putin controls everything that the Russian people see on the television and on the internet, that Russia has more red tape and bureaucracy than the U.S. government could ever dream of, that Putin employs a large and highly armed special police force whose only task is to protect himself and his government from the people, that Putin’s government is by far and away the number one employer in Russia, and that Putin oversees a socialized medical system (a system which Trump has praised). Putin has long ago perfected the role of Big Brother. Putin may be the unapologetic ‘strong-man’ type that Trump supporters crave, but he is totally in opposition to conservative ideals. Trump in his statements, temperament, and character has given me no confidence that he will defend the principles of limited government. His praise of dictators and authoritarianism are deeply concerning.”
While the Atlantic attempted to paint a specific caricature of Soviet immigrant voting patterns well, it could have done so more effectively. This is not a monolithic group, though they are generally skeptical of big government and crony capitalism. My family greatly dislikes all three aforementioned candidates because they boast tyrannical tendencies too reminiscent of the policies that plagued their homeland. Many other Soviet immigrants share the same fears, as well.
As a result, American voters should look to those who escaped tyranny to better understand why Trump, Sanders, and even Clinton boast views that are antithetical to freedom.

Life in Cuba Ain’t Glamorous

Communist Cuba is supposedly the hottest fashion destination this year.

Fashion powerhouses like Chanel have staked out the tyrannical tropical island to showcase the latest in fashion. As a result, fashionistas are looking to break into Havana this spring.

Who knew that a communist country could be so chic with its omnipresent poverty, human rights abuses, and tyranny?

Renowned Chanel fashion designer and creative director Karl Lagerfeld, 82, has chosen the so-called “Rome of the Caribbean” for its “cultural richness” and newfound “openness” to showcase his 2017 Cruise Collection Show on May 3, 2016. Lagerfeld is known for his eccentricity and sometimes questionable locations for shows. One fashion blog noted this back in October:

According to a release from Chanel, the “cultural richness and opening up of Cuba” has long inspired Lagerfeld, and if his past collections are any indication, there will certainly be plenty of the country’s lively, colorful flavor injected into the clothing. However, this does bring up the question of whether or not it’s insensitive for a luxury label to descend upon — and to borrow heavily from aesthetically — a country still rife with poverty?

Lagerfeld told Vogue several months ago he’d love to do a show in Cuba.

The fashion and lifestyle magazine Town & Country Magazine published an article on April 7th about an upcoming fashion show to be held in Havana next month. In the article “Where to Stay in Cuba for the Chanel Show“, Style Writer Sarah Bray notes how difficult having a show in the communist country would be, especially for those in the fashion industry who ironically admire Cuba but enjoy luxuries created by capitalism:

But travel details are still up in the air. Chanel has a reputation of being able to pull anything off, but a luxury event of epic proportions in a communist country with still-strict visa, commerce, and trade laws?

 It will be interesting to watch the production unfold via Instagram as always…. WAIT, cell phones hardly work in Cuba and wifi is extremely limited! Will bloggers and editors actually have to watch the show instead of fiddling with Snapchat filters?

Lagerfeld is not alone. Other American celebrities and dignitaries have lauded Havana as a cool, “hip” place whilst ignoring the communist overtones or have excused them.

President Obama recently partied with Raul Castro during his recent trip to Cuba and even stood in front of a Che Guevara mural. Rapper Jay-Z and his wife Beyonce celebrated their anniversary in Cuba in April 2013–a spectacle that rightfully drew a lot of controversy. Hotel heiress Paris Hilton ventured to Havana in February 2015 with model Naomi Campbell and took a selfie with the son of Fidel Castro.

To the fashionistas anticipating world-class luxury in Havana: don’t get your hopes up. Cuba is still communist, after all.

Violent crime in Cuba is quite high

State-run media has painted this caricature of a “safe” Cuba like any Pravda-like institution would do: to cover for their surrogates in government. Much to the chagrin of Castro apologists, Cuba is far from safe. Tourists are the victims of senseless deaths in the present day. Cuba remains a police state and has been such since 1959.

Life in Cuba is far from glamorous

Abject poverty, shoddy buildings, and unsanitary hospitals dominate the landscape. If you’re longing for the 1950s pre-revolutionary Havana, good luck finding it. Only those in government who are wealthy enjoy glitz and glamour. The majority of Cubans are poor and have no idea what Chanel is–nor could they ever afford it.

Few will have access to the fashion show

 In typical communist fashion, this show–as sanctioned by the Cuban government–won’t be open to the public. It’ll be solely reserved for the elites. Regular Cubans can only dream of attending these events.

Most people desire and should desire a prosperous, free Cuba. I would love to see Cuba free from the shackles of the Castro regime in my lifetime–but have serious doubts, like others, on how it’ll achieve freedom.

The harsh realties behind the Tropical Curtain are far from glamorous. Giving legitimacy to the regime–especially with a fashion show right in the heart of Havana–will affirm the continual whitewashing of crimes and blatant human rights abuses committed by the regime.

Communism isn’t cool, nor is it glamorous; it’s horrendous and dehumanizing. Without free enterprise, the fashion industry would cease to exist. This move by Lagerfeld/Chanel to host a fashion show in Havana is imprudent and disrespectful at best.

Feeding the Castro Regime With Crony Capitalism Won’t Make Cuba Free

Although the Cuban Embargo has been lifted, those engulfed by the Tropical Mirage still don’t enjoy full-fledged freedom.

On Sunday, President Obama landed in the island nation to “repair” U.S.-Cuban relations. Unsurprisingly, the media are celebrating the occasion with their usual romanticization of communist countries as they did with the 2012 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

Obama’s visit is not only historic, it’s quite predictable. Given his past association with radical Marxist figures, a visit to Cuba should make him feel at home.

https://twitter.com/rorycooper/status/711657730512199680

In response to this, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) offered scathing words for those partying it up in Cuba whilst ignoring the plight of dissidents:

Meanwhile, political prisoners languishing in dungeons across the island will hear this message: Nobody has your back. You’re alone with your tormentors. The world has forgotten about you.

They will not be on TV, rubbing elbows with the Obamas or left-wing politicians like Nancy Pelosi. There will be no mojitos at the U.S. Embassy for them. Raul Castro denies their very existence.

Cruz, who boasts half-Cuban ancestry, offered these words at a campaign stop in Arizona yesterday:

“For decades, leftists and Hollywood liberals have made the pilgrimage to Cuba to pay homage to Fidel Castro and Raúl Castro,” Cruz said. “It’s very chic, it’s very chichi for leftists to celebrate vicious communist dictators.”

“I cannot wait as president to visit Cuba,” he said. “But when I visit Cuba, it will be a free Cuba. It will be a Cuba without Raúl Castro, without Fidel Castro. And I can’t wait to celebrate with the people of Cuba 90 miles off America’s shore.”

Politicians of immediate Cuban descent from both parties have denounced Obama’s trip to Cuba, as well.
During a joint press conference with President Obama yesterday, Raul Castro chastised the U.S. for holding Guantanamo Bay hostage and for denying our citizens “free” education and healthcare. Castro also denied imprisoning Cuban citizens:

Let’s put Cuba into perspective, shall we?

According to Heritage Foundation’s 2016 Index of Economic Freedom, Cuba ranks 177 out of  178 countries examined. Here’s what has happened in the island nation since December 2014:

Much-touted “free-market reforms” have largely involved only cosmetic changes. The rule of law remains subject to political influence and the overriding interests of the Communist Party. The judiciary’s autonomy is severely impeded by the centralization of power in the one-party state.

After Obama’s arrival in Cuba, nearly 200 dissidents – including members of the anti-Castro group Ladies in White (Damas en Blanco) – were arrested for protesting the Castro regime.

Prominent Cuban dissident Armando Valladares, who spent 22 years as a political prisoner in Cuba for refusing to pledge allegiance to Castrosuggested Obama’s visit “provides an endless trove of propaganda material that helps lend legitimacy to the Castro regime, whose agenda of late consists of courting big corporations desperately needed to boost a failed experiment in socialism on the one hand, and bulldozing house churches on the other.” Over 8,000 dissidents were arrested in 2015. (The new Cuba awfully reminds of the old one, no?)

“Free” healthcare in Cuba is a result of government-run healthcare. In exchange for “free” healthcare, citizens are beholden to the state for their health needs. University of Oklahoma professor Katherine Hirschfield spent nine months in the late 1990’s examining Cuba’s healthcare system which she documented in her paper “Re-Examining the Cuban Health Care System: Towards a Qualitative Critique” (2007). Here are her findings:

There is no right to privacy in the physician-patient relationship in Cuba, no patients’ right of informed consent, no right to refuse treatment, and no right to protest or sue for malpractice. As a result, medical care in Cuba has the potential to be intensely dehumanizing.

Are food and water readily accessible to Cubans?  Food rationing still dominates the landscape.

Despite the hardships Cubans face, some individuals don’t mind the status quo. “The Wonder List with Bill Weir” on CNN broadcasted an episode on Cuba Sunday confirming this. Several Cubans featured demonstrably sipped the commie Kool-Aid. One individual, rapper and musician Daya Suarez, told Weir she feared capitalism because the availability of private property will make Cuba less safe as autonomous individuals will desire guns, she claimed before. Another individual, an urban developer, said the influx of American dollars won’t convince Cubans to implement free market reforms. Several other interviewees dismissed the liberalization of Cuba’s collectivist policies because they fear it will lead to “extravagance” on the island.

Given ambivalence towards the Castro regime by some Cubans and the continuation of totalitarian policies, why should our tourism dollars fund this? Like big government policies, crony capitalism won’t pivot Cuba toward freedom.

What’s Cuba to do? Cuba should take a page from my ancestral homeland Lithuania. Like Cuba, my ancestral homeland was heavily influenced by the Soviet Union because the Kremlin illegally occupied it in 1939. My parents recall being forced to sing  “Cuba Lyuba” (Cuba, My Love) to show solidarity with the USSR’s beloved Caribbean sister. (They obviously hated it.) Like Cuba, Lithuania also endured food rationing, universal healthcare, a police state, state-controlled industries, and non-existent freedoms for many decades. Things changed on August 23, 1989, when freedom presented itself once again with the Baltic Way. This demonstration helped propel the Berlin Wall Fall shortly after. On March 11, 1990, Lithuania formally broke away from the former USSR–making it the first occupied country to do so. Today, Lithuania enjoys relative freedom and is the 13th most economically prosperous country in the world. If Lithuania was able to declare its independence from totalitarianism, Cuba is certainly capable of rejecting it too.

Americans should look forward to the day Cuba achieves her independence. Communism was unacceptable in the 20th century and should remain unacceptable today. Freedom, however, isn’t achieved by feeding into or giving legitimacy to the Castro regime; freedom in Cuba will be achieved when those facing oppression successfully topple their oppressors, declare their independence, and wholly reject collectivism.