A recently released poll by Univision/Fusion and The Washington Post would have you believe the iron curtain in Cuba has been lifted.
That is definitely not the case.
They claim that 97 percent of Cubans support the new policy of normalization between the U.S. and Castro regime. While I cannot speak to the beliefs of Cubans, the organizations affiliated with the “poll” should know this simple fact: There is no such thing as an objective public opinion poll in a police state.
Freedom House, an independent non-governmental organization has consistently reported that:
“[All] Political dissent, whether spoken or written, is a punishable offense, and dissidents are systematically harassed, detained, physically assaulted, and frequently sentenced to years of imprisonment for seemingly minor infractions. The regime has called on its neighborhood-watch groups, known as Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), to strengthen vigilance against ‘antisocial behavior,’ a euphemism for opposition activity.”
The regime financed Committees for Defense of the Revolution are charged with neighborhood monitoring and keeping logs of the comings and goings of Cubans. They are also tasked with monitoring visitors to the island, something I directly experienced when visiting my family on the island.
It naturally gives a 0/16 score for “Political Pluralism and Participation” on the island.
Freedom House further describes freedom of speech and press on the island as the most restrictive in all of the Americas. “The constitution prohibits private ownership of media outlets and allows free speech and journalism only if they “conform to the aims of a socialist society” and all news “content is determined by the government.” For the 16 percent of respondents that have access to the internet, the majority of uses can only reach a highly censored, totally regulated and heavily monitored internet.
This follows a poll conducted by MSNBC/Telemundo/Marist claiming that 56 percent of “Latinos” support the president’s new Cuba policy. This should not be used to represent the views of Cuban-Americans. Mexicans account for an overwhelmingly majority, at 65 percent of the entire Latino population, while the Cuban-American community is less than 4 percent of the entire population. Also, Cuban-Americans typically do not identify themselves as “Latino” or “Hispanic”—something I know firsthand as a first generation Cuban-American from Miami.
Organizations like #CubaNow, which serves as an echo chamber for the Obama administration, have accepted this poll as unequivocal proof of Cuban support for the new policy. They are indeed mistaken.
Until there are true democratic reforms and respect for basic freedoms in Cuba, these should be the only numbers that matter.