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Call For U.S. Military Intervention Amid Cuba Protests Sparks Miami Exile Debate

Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat, head of the Cuban Democratic Directorate and Assembly of the Cuban Resistance speaking in Miami on Monday.
Jose A. Iglesias
Miami Herald
Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat, head of the Cuban Democratic Directorate and Assembly of the Cuban Resistance speaking in Miami on Monday.

Many exiles want U.S. troops sent to Cuba to protect protesters from brutality. Many others say that rhetoric gives the regime an excuse for worse repression.

With the Cuban regime cracking down on unprecedented anti-government protests, Cubans in Miami are calling for President Biden to intervene — and that’s set off a debate within the Cuban community.

As angry protests in Cuba continue, Miami exile leaders say the Biden Administration should send U.S. troops to the communist island as the vanguard of a humanitarian aid mission to Cubans.

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They insist it’s needed because the Cuban regime is using more violence now against protesters, who are fed up with food, medicine and electricity shortages as well as a lack of human rights and an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

“We are asking the Biden administration to intervene to protect the Cuban people and end this regime to help bring about a democratic transition," said Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat, who heads the Cuban Democratic Directorate and the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance in Miami.

"We do it knowing the consequences, but the bloodshed will be much greater if that doesn’t happen. We've seen the bloody manner in which this regime and regimes like it from Syria to Nicaragua put down popular protests. So this is not some hackneyed request on our part — it's warranted.”

But other exile leaders such as former Miami Congressman Joe Garcia insist, first, that Biden is not considering military intervention — and second, that the U.S. intervention rhetoric itself, coming especially from Miami, could only make things worse for Cubans on the island.

“To put it in the scope of some kind of invasion by a foreign menace only plays into the Cuban governments’ hands," Garcia said. "What we don’t want to do is justify the government’s repression of Cuban people.”

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, a Cuban-American who's a Democrat but usually sides with more conservative exiles on Cuba policy, dismissed the intervention call Tuesday afternoon.

"We're not going to have a military intervention in Cuba," Menendez said. "It's what the [Cuban regime] wants."

Menendez added, however, that the Biden administration should work harder "to internationalize" the President's support of the Cuban protesters.

Late Tuesday afternoon, Miami Mayor Mayor Francis Suarez expressed support for U.S. intervention in Cuba. In a Fox News interview he said that the idea of airstrikes should "be explored" and looked at as "a potential option."

Meanwhile, demonstrators on Tuesday marched on Miami’s Palmetto Expressway to show support for the Cuban protests.

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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