Bernie Sanders Calls for Cuba to 'Respect Opposition Rights,' Bashes 'Unilateral' U.S. Embargo

It took Bernie Sanders more than a day and a half to respond to the Cuba protests, but he finally broke his silence before midnight Monday. He called for the Cuban government to "respect opposition rights" of protesters while he bashed America's "embargo on Cuba," saying it should finally come to an end.

Sanders, a self-professed socialist and significant figure head for a movement toward socialism in America, is the most-prominent progressive lawmaker to react to the protests in Cuba. The former presidential candidate is also the highest-profile American politician to publicly say the decades-long embargo should be done with.

"All people have the right to protest and to live in a democratic society. I call on the Cuban government to respect opposition rights and refrain from violence. It's also long past time to end the unilateral U.S. embargo on Cuba, which has only hurt, not helped, the Cuban people," Sanders tweeted late Monday night.

All people have the right to protest and to live in a democratic society. I call on the Cuban government to respect opposition rights and refrain from violence. It’s also long past time to end the unilateral U.S. embargo on Cuba, which has only hurt, not helped, the Cuban people.

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) July 13, 2021
Bernie Sanders
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks to supporters of immigration reform as more than 5000 people descend on DC for #WeCantWait March to demand bold action from Congress on June 24, 2021 in Washington, DC. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Green New Deal Network

Thousands of Cubans flooded the streets of their country on Sunday to demand an end to the communist government regime, an end to food shortage, their economic crisis and the struggle to contain the COVID-19 virus that still lurks on the island country.

Cubans from the capital city of Havana and all the way to Santiago chanted "libertad" in the streets, hoping for freedom after decades of communist control and for current President Miguel Díaz-Canel to step down. The Cuban president didn't back down, but rather threatened a "revolutionary response" to protests.

The recent protests began after a sharp drop in tourism led to the country's hardest economic crisis in the last 30 years because of the pandemic. The coronavirus not only halted tourism, but caused strife in the country for those looking to get vaccinated—which the country is short on supplies.

The United States has imposed sanctions and embargoes on Cuba since the Dwight Eisenhower administration, which implemented the first of them on Cuba when Fidel Castro rose to power.

Last month, a convoy of Cuban diplomats went to the United Nations to call the ongoing U.S. embargo "an act of war."

"To understand the essence of the blockade and the bilateral relations between Cuba and the U.S., we must understand the blockade as an act of war, a policy that causes calculated damage to an entire people," said Pedro Luis Pedroso Cuesta, a Cuban who's a permanent representative to the U.N.

"It is an expression of hostility," he continued, "that denies the Cuban people their right to self-determination, the right to build and develop the political, economic and social model that Cuba has decided to create in a sovereign manner."

Bernie Sanders on Monday said the Cuban people would be better off without the embargo. President Biden on Monday condemned violence against the Cuban people by its own government, and former President Donald Trump said Biden must "stand up to the Communist regime or—history will remember. The Cuban people deserve freedom and human rights!"