That remains the case about the counterrevolution that broke out in Cuba over the weekend. This is not the fault of the Cuban people. Western media generally and U.S. media specifically failed at a crucial moment.
I am amazed, alarmed and not a little disgusted by the lack of attention to the uprising of an oppressed people in the communist dictatorship. There hasn’t been a protest like this in Cuba in 60-plus years. It’s as if the fall of the Berlin Wall had been limited to a couple of minutes of network news. Would cable news of 2021 have even covered Boris Yeltsin on a tank in Moscow in August 1991? These channels rightly invested in the Arab Spring in 2010. Now they are nearly silent. Why?
The state has struck back through the police and the army. It has shuttered, mostly successfully, the Internet. But there are still dissenters and protesters trying to be heard. Some such as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) are amplifying those efforts. The big newspapers are trying. But the Cuban people need U.S. network and cable news. Now. Yesterday, in fact.
For a few hours last Sunday, Cubans put their lives on the line. There is dramatic video of the secret police and army thugs crashing into houses to muscle away young people in the days since. Spanish television had live coverage of a dissident being yanked from her interview. But these are rare exceptions in a sea of stories about private-plane-flying, Democratic state legislators from Texas doing stunt double work as elected officials. Do network executives have no shame?
Media attention — continued media attention — is the only protection these dissidents have. I have never heard a dissident from any culture complain about too much media coverage. The opposite is and always has been true. Coverage — intensive, sustained attention by U.S. media — keeps people alive because it promises embarrassment and shame to thugs who repress expressions of freedom.
There is an audience as well for freedom, and not just among the sizable Cuban American populations across the country. There are viewers of every ethnicity, but especially those who fled repressive regimes. If you show it, they will watch it.
Tuesday’s absurd speech by President Biden, in which he actually said that voting reform legislation across the country is not simply a return to Jim Crow but also that it was “literally” the worst crisis since the Civil War, was also lavishly covered by the “news.” The president and his entire national security team should be in Miami, where they would be greeted by thousands of freedom-loving people from both parties and those of no parties at all.
An attachment to the failed appeasers of Team Obama may be holding Biden back from rallying support for the Cuban people. Biden must act. Go to Miami, Mr. President, and have your Reagan-at-the-Berlin-Wall moment. Push the corrupt Cuban regime, and it will fall. It does not require a single shot or one airlift. Give interviews focused only on Cuba while you are there. Use the bully pulpit and build a genuine legacy.
The president delivered a short verbal statement and a good one-paragraph written statement Monday. Since then, nothing. Imagine you are in a small town in Cuba, monitoring the TV channels you can get, searching for information, inspiration and encouragement. You can see or at least hear Rubio, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). This is becoming a horrific replay of 2009 when President Barack Obama was at best muted (and at worst silent) during the Green Movement in Iran. And then the mullahs crushed it.
No Democrat should ever use the term human rights again if the party remains silent now. The United States must lead the call for freedom for Cuba, and we only have one president at a time. Seize the moment, President Biden. The counterrevolution will be televised if you make it so.