White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in part that “communism is a failed ideology” when Fox News’s Peter Doocy asked if she had changed her stance on why she thinks Cubans have been protesting in the streets since Sunday.
The admission was a notable tone shift from Monday, when Psaki postulated that Cuban protesters yelling “freedom!” during anti-communist protests were actually demanding “freedom from rising COVID cases.” Psaki again declined on Wednesday to directly blame communism for the current unrest in Cuba when Doocy asked her whether communism was the reason people might want to flee Cuba for the U.S.
For full context, here is the exchange between Doocy and Psaki:
Doocy: Now that you’ve had a few days to think about it, does this White House still think the protests in Cuba are happening because people are upset about a rise in COVID cases there, or is there some thought maybe you’ve given to the possibility that they are protesting because they are sick of communism?
Psaki: Well, uh, Peter, first I would say communism is a failed ideology, and we certainly believe that. It has failed the people of Cuba. They deserve freedom. They deserve a government that supports them, whether that is, uh, making sure they have health and medical supplies, uh, access to vaccines, or whether they have economic opportunity and prosperity. And instead, this has been a government, an authoritarian, communist regime, that has repressed its people and has failed the people of Cuba, hence we’re seeing them in the streets. But I would note that ideology of the government, which has failed, has led to a lack of access to economic opportunity, to medical supplies, to COVID vaccines, so all of those pieces are true. (emphasis added)
Thousands of Cubans in more than 40 provinces have been participating in the largest demonstration in decades in a call to end 62 years of abusive communist rule on the island. Since protests began, police have opened fire on crowds and beaten people in the streets. Independent media confirmed the arrests of at least 5,000 people since protests began, Breitbart reported. Current figurehead President Miguel Díaz-Canel also openly called on civilians to violently attack protesters on the streets in an “order of combat” issued late Sunday.
When Doocy asked Psaki if President Joe Biden has any plans to address human rights abuses in Cuba, she answered by referencing several statements Biden has issued claiming to “stand with the Cuban people.” Notably, Biden did not directly condemn communism in his statement or mention widespread reports of public gang beatings and live fire against unarmed protesters on the part of state security.
“Uh, there’s an ongoing review of our own policies, and as we look at those policies, one of the big factors is ensuring we are not doing anything to pad the pockets of a corrupt authoritarian regime,” she said, while also suggesting Biden is considering providing humanitarian aid.
Protesters around the U.S. who have joined the Cuban people from afar, as well as some politicians have “escalated their calls for military intervention against the Castro regime to defend the lives of unarmed, peaceful Cuban protesters,” Breitbart News reported.
A petition at Change.org urging military intervention has attracted nearly 400,000 signatures as of Wednesday, suggesting the idea is more popular than many establishment media outlets in the United States have suggested.
“The longer that America waits to intervene the more people will die,” one Miami protester told a local ABC News affiliate.