On Thursday, President Joe Biden, who expressed support for the protests, called Cuba a “failed state” as he condemned the country’s communist regime.
Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel fired back at Biden on Twitter, saying, “A failed state is that which, to please a reactionary and blackmailing minority, is capable of doing damage to 11 million humans.”
The Cuban government has blamed the decades-long U.S. sanctions for its economic instability. However, some frustrated residents are blaming the Cuban government for the conflict.
“I think they are a failed state. You know, I think that’s obvious,” said Negrin. “The people of Cuba are not suffering because we won’t sell them a hamburger. They’re suffering because their government has had their boot on their necks for more than 60 years because they’re oppressed and they lack basic human rights.”
Negrin believes the U.S. trade embargo has been in place for too long, but he is wary of giving the Cuban government a “free pass.” He wants to see the government be held accountable and see them uphold a meaningful concession of human rights.
While Acosta also believes the Cuban government should be held accountable, she would like to see humanitarian sanctions and the embargo lifted immediately.
“I support the position that Cubans need to have human rights, but I’m against the option of using hunger and illness to push a human rights agenda,” said Acosta. “I am supporting the line of thought that the Biden administration should lift sanctions to get humanitarian aid to Cuba.
“President Trump put in place many, many sanctions, and President Biden has not lifted them,” she added. “And that affects directly the most vulnerable population in Cuba, the sanctions are not affecting the government. These sanctions are affecting the poorest sector of the Cuban society.”
During his administration, President Donald Trump imposed a multitude of sanctions on Cuba which President Biden has kept in place, despite his campaign-era promises to reverse the policies.
Now some advocates and House Democrats are calling on Biden to lift these sanctions.
Biden recently announced his administration’s plan to examine remittances to Cuba, which would allow Americans to transfer money to relatives there.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has been vocal about his opposition to allowing remittances and lifting the existing Cuban embargo.
“There’s so much passion around these issues,” said Negrin. “There are folks who want to argue about the embargo. There are folks who want the Biden administration to send troops in and save people there. There are folks that just want to start pushing for a reduction in some of the sanctions. This is diplomacy at its highest level.”
Despite the Cuban community’s split feelings about how to handle the situation, many are united by their desire for freedom.
“They want the right to protest. They want to be listened to and they want to have the economic reforms that the government has announced for the past couple of years to be implemented right now,” said Acosta.