The Assembly of the Cuban Resistance, a coalition of Cuban and Cuban-American human rights advocacy groups, announced a large-scale caravan protest in Miami against cruise corporations choosing to do business with Cuba.
The groups successfully completed a test run of the caravan protest this weekend and have planned to launch the full version of the protest during peak tourism season.
Pro-democracy activists note that, as the Cuban communist regime controls all aspects of the Cuban economy, there is no such thing as a private corporation on the island, and all tourism revenue goes straight into government coffers. Tourists are thus funding a wide variety of human rights abuses including the harassing and beating of pro-democracy activists, the imprisonment and torture of political dissidents, the repression of musicians and other artists regardless of whether their art is political in nature, and the funding of fellow rogue regimes such as that of Venezuela.
Despite the longstanding embargo on U.S. businesses cooperating with the Cuban regime, the Obama administration approved Carnival Cruises to send its first ship to Havana in 2016.
The Assembly of the Cuban Resistance is launching its campaign shortly after the U.S. State Department launched a United Nations initiative titled “Jailed for What?” highlighting the suffering of political prisoners in Cuba. The U.S. delegation at the U.N. is also set to introduce amendments to the annual resolution condemning the embargo highlighting human rights abuses on the island, forcing the topic into the conversation.
The Cuban-American human rights coalition is planning to unite a caravan of hundreds of cars, many boasting signs and other paraphernalia addressing the issue of tourism to Cuba, and drive them to the front of the Port of Miami “at the peak moment of the high season for tourism to Cuba,” according to Dr. Orlando Gutiérrez-Boronat, national secretary of the Assembly of the Cuban Resistance.
Gutiérrez-Boronat tells Breitbart News that the caravan will be the largest act of peaceful protest yet as part of the campaign against the cruise lines, which began in June. After an extensive media campaign including social media protests, public service announcements throughout Miami, and a smaller protest at the port this year, the caravan will serve to further urge Americans to reconsider spending money that will directly fund the Castro regime.
“The cruise companies should not underestimate the decision and the persistence of the Cuban Resistance to peacefully put a stop to this financing of a hateful, bloody tyranny by frivolous U.S. tourism,” Gutiérrez-Boronat adds.
Carnival Cruises was the first corporation to receive approval to sell tickets for cruises to Cuba in 2016. In a gesture of dominance, the Castro regime demanded that Carnival ban Cuban-Americans – not just Americans born in Cuba, but Americans born on U.S. soil of ethnic Cuban background – from their cruises to the island, and Carnival complied. Cuban-American activist groups. Attorneys representing Cuban-Americans threatened to sue Carnival over the policy, a clear violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and Carnival eventually agreed to allow them onboard.
The Carnival Adonia ship landed in the Port of Havana on May 2, 2016.
In addition to complaints from human rights advocates who protest that U.S. dollars are funding the Castro regime through tourism, the rightful owners of the ports the cruise ships are using to dock have argued that Carnival and others like it are trafficking in stolen American property.
“They’re making millions right now, I think they projected 500,000 tourists reaching my ports alone this year, with a projected 2 million by 2020 … It’s like somebody stole your house and now they are renting it to your neighbors. It makes no sense,” Mickael Behn, rightful owner of the Havana Docks Corporation, told Breitbart News in June. Fidel Castro “nationalized” his grandfather’s port in 1960.
The Castro regime is estimated to owe American citizens at least $7 billion in “nationalized” property.
The Obama administration – and, its in absence, Castro sympathizers such as Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) – have nonetheless allowed or promoted American financing of Cuban tourism operations. Yet American interest in Cuba has dwindled, faced with widespread protests against the regime and a series of hostile actions by Havana, including the suspected injuring of American diplomats on Cuban soil and in Cuban hotels.
Tourism to Cuba collapsed in early 2018, facing a 7-percent dip in the first three months of the year, most of that triggered by American disinterest.
“I feel that the campaign has contributed to the overall decline of US tourism to Cuba and the issue of the immorality of the cruises has been raised and placed in the realm of public debate, which it had not before,” Gutiérrez-Boronat told Breitbart News.
Just as Cuba’s tourism industry appears to be recovering, a new multifaceted campaign against Cuba has begun. The State Department launched the aforementioned “Jailed for What?” campaign this month, telling the stories of individual political prisoners using the Trump administration’s global platform.
Yamilka spoke out against #Cuban government repression after her husband was arrested on false charges. In response, the government of #Cuba convicted her of “contempt”, threatened to take away her children, and sentenced her to house arrest. #JailedforWhat pic.twitter.com/XMf7V4xE5I
— U.S. State Dept | Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor (@StateDRL) October 29, 2018
“Over 100 Cubans currently languish in jails or under house arrest as political prisoners,” Ambassador Kelley Currie, who represents America on the U.N.’s Economic and Social Affairs committee, said at an event in mid-October launching the campaign. In what has become typical for Cuban state operatives, the Castro regime representatives present at that U.N. meeting booed, screamed, and banged tables for the entirety of the nearly hour-long event in an attempt to silence the ambassador and other speakers, including Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary-General Luis Almagro.
Following the incident, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “requesting to know what measures the U.N. will take to respond to these actions and make sure that they do not happen again,” calling the Cubans’ behavior a “childish temper tantrum.”
Gutiérrez-Boronat notes that the new protests organized against the cruise lines at their ports of departure in Florida are “very much tied into an overall effort by the Cuban democratic forces and the international democratic community to achieve true democratic change in Cuba.”
“We feel that the Administration is taking the proper steps to aid the cause of freedom and democracy for the Cuban people,” he added. “The case is more efficiently articulated when you don’t have an Administration, like Obama’s was, interested in unilateral concessions, no-demands asked engagement with the Communist Tyranny in Cuba.”