Things That Matter

Here’s How Some People Tried To Show The Reality Of Cubans During Cuban Independence Day

Cuban Independence Day was May 20 and people were definitely celebrating the day that Cuba declared their independence from Spain. However, while people danced, drank, and partied in the name of Cuba, others questioned the significance of the day considering the government of the island nation is still Communist.

May 20th was Cuban Independence Day and, of course, there were several celebrations.

The Cuban Revolution was in full force in the 1890s when Cuban nationals started to fight back against the Spanish rule. By 1895, the Spanish government sent 100,000 soldiers to Cuba to squash the revolution. Yet, the post-Civil War United States decided to get involved in a fight on behalf of the Cuban people and Cuban independence. The United States did take control over Cuba after the war with Spain’s rule in Cuba was over in 1898 and by May 20, 1902, the Republic of Cuba was born.

Cuba earned its independence from Spain in 1898 following a 5-year war. The United states stepped in during the war to help free Cuba from Spain’s hold on the island nation and the U.S. maintained their control of the island until 1902 when Cuba became a self-governed republic.

There were small memorializing services like the rededication of 22nd Ave. in Miami to Generalísimo Máximo Gomez Ave.

Generalísimo Máximo Gomez fought in two wars in Cuba. He first fought in the Ten Years’ War and then joined in the fight for the revolution and independence of Cuba later.

People even reacted to Trump’s Cuban Independence Day statement.

“Today, we remember patriots like José Martí, who devoted himself to making Cuba an economically competitive and politically autonomous nation,” reads Trump’s statement. “He reminds us that cruel despotism cannot extinguish the flame of freedom in the hearts of Cubans, and that unjust persecution cannot tamper Cubans’ dreams for their children to live free from oppression. The Cuban people deserve a government that peacefully upholds democratic values, economic liberties, religious freedoms, and human rights, and my Administration is committed to achieving that vision.”

But the celebrations on social media were paralleled with the reality of what Cuban people face.

Despite the U.S. attempting to normalize ties with Cuba, Cuba continues to be a Communist country with Raúl Castro, Fidel Castro’s brother, still calling the shots. Raúl is currently the president, the first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, and he is the head of the Cuban military.

Many people echoed this sentiment of wanting true freedom and democracy for the Cuban people including Esteban Bovo, the Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners for Miami-Dade County.

Ana Navarro tweeted on the day to remind everyone that even though U.S. policy toward Cuba is changing, it is still a country ran by a regime that oppresses human rights.

The Human Rights Watch reports that the beatings, public shaming, and the firing of all those who dissent and question the government publicly have increased since the U.S. began softening their stance. The Human Rights Watch reports that the Cuban government still relies on arbitrary arrests of political opponents, critics of the government, and independent journalists. An example The Human Rights Watch points to is the arrest of about 300 political dissidents in advance of President Obama’s visit in March 2016.

While no one tried to say not to celebrate Cuban Independence Day, they did ask that those celebrating think about what is left to make Cuba the democracy Cubans and Cuban-Americans crave.

In the words of Pitbull from his “Fate Of The Furious” single “Hey Ma” featuring J Balvin and fellow Cuban Camila Cabello: “Pa’lante con la libertad de Cuba/Y que la isla entera suba.” (“Forward with the liberty of Cuba/And that the whole island rises up.”)

READ: Gay Activists Met In Havana To Talk Cuban LGBTQ Rights

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