Cuba: One Year after 7/11

By Rosa Miriam Elizalde on July 7, 2022

protesting Meta-Facebook

On July 11, it will be one year since the riots in Cuba that made headlines around the world. Anger flared then with the explosive mix of pandemic effects, Donald Trump’s suffocating sanctions that Joe Biden kept intact in the midst of a global health emergency, the accumulated social problems, the economic crisis, the inclement temperatures in the island summer. The systemic and prolonged attack on the daily life of Cubans paid off and the 48 hours in which acts of vandalism were carried out in several cities of the country generated rivers of ink and the prognosis that the revolution would collapse, sooner rather than later.

But neither have there been the aftershocks of July 11, nor has the government of Miguel Diaz-Canel shown signs of exhaustion, as predicted by the doomsayers from the north. In fact, the opposite has occurred. It is Washington that is showing signs of weakness and isolation, judging by the Summit of the Americas, which ended in a monumental failure after the Biden administration’s attempt to exclude three countries, Cuba among them.

There are multiple factors that triggered the surprise protests of a year ago on the island and many others that explain why they have not been repeated until today, despite the sanctions and the wear and tear of daily life, which continue with the same intensity, or perhaps are more oppressive now. But the heroism of normality in Cuba does not generate headlines. The media have stopped looking at what is happening on the island and all that remains is the underworld of social platforms that ceaselessly sends apocalyptic signals through the disinformation war.

If there is a dark area of the events of July 11 and 12, 2021 in Cuba, it is the responsibility of the U.S. platforms. The role they played in this story and the speed with which they managed to spread hatred and create microclimates that catalyzed the unrest is relevant.

They went beyond the insidious attempt to divide people, which almost no one doubts anymore when talking about social networks. The complicity of Facebook (now Meta), Google and Twitter has not only been expressed to this day in terms of permissibility of hate speech when it comes to the government in Havana, but in laxity in the face of the wave of anti-government propaganda produced by geo-located users outside the island.

Journalist Alan MacLeod of MintPress News, who infiltrated one of the groups that organized the protests a year ago, documented the participation of foreign nationals in the supposedly local online communities that incited the protests. His research showed that U.S. citizens intervened “in Cuba’s internal affairs, at a level that is hardly conceivable in the United States, and even the staunchest proponents of Russiagate refrain from claiming that Russians directly planned the George Floyd protests or the January 6, 2021 insurrection” in Washington.

As the assault on the Capitol under consideration these days in the U.S. Congress has shown, in certain cases of political crimes the transmission belt between hate speech and action is evident. As is, also, the ideological connection between Florida’s anti-Cuban extremism and the Trumpist ultra-right, very much leaning towards the cavern and obscurantism, which still speaks of electoral fraud, insults Democratic politicians and amplifies any distorted account of reality that fits its prejudices.

Disinformation operations in the United States are a ticking time bomb, an argument that investors associated with the Democratic Party have used to suddenly acquire 18 Hispanic radio stations in Florida.

This is the culmination of a debate that began long before the 2020 elections, when a congresswoman requested an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine the extent of disinformation in Miami’s Spanish-language media, which extended to social platforms and messaging chats, particularly WhatsApp. At the same time, The New Yorker described “how pro-Trump disinformation was influencing the new generation of Cuban-American voters”, with the creation of fanatical communities that reject any critical thinking and resort to inflammatory rhetoric that does not recognize differences between the policies of Joseph Biden and those of Miguel Díaz-Canel.

One year after 9/11, we are at the same point, in terms of war propaganda. The conceptual framework is the permanent threat to Cuba, but one side distributes hatred equally on both sides of the Florida Straits. Tick, tick.

Source: La Jornada, translation Resumen Latinoamericano-English