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BLM Cuba Statement Is A Blunder. But It Doesn't Mean BLM Movement Is Marxist

OPPRESSED IN HAVANA TOO A Black anti-government protester being beaten and arrested by Cuban police during island-wide demonstrations on Sunday.
Ramon Espinosa
OPPRESSED IN HAVANA, TOO A Black anti-government protester being beaten and arrested by Cuban police during island-wide demonstrations on Sunday.

COMMENTARY The clique that claims to speak for Black Lives Matter is shamelessly clueless on Cuba. So are right-wingers when it comes to the BLM movement.

Friends often ask me why I remain a Roman Catholic when I disagree with so much of the Catholic Church’s retro doctrine. My answer is simple: the Catholic church hierarchy is not the Catholic faith movement.

If I thought for a second the two were one and the same, I’d have tossed my missal years ago.

And I feel the same way about the Black Lives Matter racial justice movement.

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Especially this week, after the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation — BLM’s church hierarchy, as it were — posted a leftist statementabout the unrest in Cuba that was as about as clueless as they come.

It’s an astonishingly tone-deaf love letter to the island’s repressive and oppressive communist regime. It absolves the dictatorship of any role in the economic and human rights suffering of 11 million Cubans while heaving every ounce of blame on the U.S.

READ MORE: Bernie Sanders' Take On Castro As Clueless As Right-Wingers' Take On Pinochet

I, too, support lifting the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba. It does hurt regular Cubans on the island. But I favor scrapping it just as much because for six decades it’s given the regime an all too convenient scapegoat for its iron-fisted incompetence — not one mention of which you’ll find in the Foundation’s penned-by-the-politburo declaration.

Instead, like a term paper from a zealous sophomore poli sci major, it’s stuffed with ideological incoherence.

It asserts the U.S. is “undermining Cubans’ right to choose their own government.” Memo to the Foundation: the regime, not the U.S., pulled that rug from under Cubans’ feet yet again at its commie conventionthis year by doubling down on one-party rule.

It claims Cubans are “being punished by the U.S. government because [their] country has maintained its commitment to sovereignty and self-determination.” Right, the island’s prisons are full of folks who tried the self-determination thing for themselves.

The Cuba communiqué confirms the retro-lefties who claim to speak for BLM are rank hypocrites. It does not prove by any stretch of the retro-righty imagination that BLM is a Marxist movement.

It signs off by reminding us the Cuban regime “has historically demonstrated solidarity with oppressed people of African descent.” True enough — which makes it all the more galling that the statement refuses to acknowledge oppressed Cubans of African descent. Or did the Foundation not see all the Black faces among the angry protesters in the videos live-streaming from Havana to Santiago on Sunday?

Just as important, it conveniently forgets that many of those Afro-Cubans are in the vanguard of the San Isidro dissident artists movement, which demonstrated in Havana last summer in support of Black Lives Matter after the murder of George Floyd — and after the alleged excessive-force killing of a Black man, Hansel Martínez, by Cuban police.


So, what the communiqué confirms is that the two or three retro-lefties like Opal Tometi who claim to speak for Black Lives Matter are rank, dogmatic hypocrites.

What it does not prove, by any stretch of the retro-righty imagination, is that the Black Lives Matter movement is Marxist.

As soon as the statement hit Instagram Wednesday night, right-wingers, especially here in Miami, leapt onto social media demanding a prostrate apology from all of us who’ve “smeared” their brethren for having called BLM radical left-wing guerrillas.

They shouldn’t hold their breath.

Cuban exile YouTube personality Alex Otaola leading a demonstration in Little Havana on Saturday against the Cuban regime's crackdown on the island's artists.
Al Diaz
Miami Herald
Cuban exile YouTube personality Alex Otaola.

The Foundation's statement was hardly a surprise. Anyone who’s watched Black Lives Matter since its inception eight years ago knows a handful of its founders embrace Marxism — just as Catholics like me have long been aware that too many bishops who claim to speak for Catholicism have condoned misogyny, homophobia and shielding pedophiles.

That doesn’t mean the Catholic faith is guilty of sexual abuse. Nor does it mean the Black Lives Matter movement is a communist plot — that its anti-racist aims, especially removing the police target from Black people's backs, don’t signify something much larger, more important and more meaningful to Americans than Tometi and the other founder flakes. And I'm confident most Americans agree.

But, especially during last year’s election, that hasn’t stopped Trumpist conservatives from insisting that because Tometi took a photo with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro six years ago, the entire BLM phenomenon we know today is out to turn Miami schoolchildren into Castro-hugging Young Pioneers.

That’s exactly what the likes of Miami Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar and YouTube “influencer” Alex Otaola were screaminglast year and still are. Their dishonest aim is to gin up White and Latino panic — and votes — by equating Black Lives Matter with Che Guevara’s firing squads.

And I do not apologize for calling them out for it.

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
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