Mac Stipanovich: Florida’s Cuba protests — GOP hypocrisy, pettiness and a lot of gall
Image via AP.

cuba protest ap photo
Unrest in Cuba provided more evidence of just how politically impoverished, morally bankrupt, personally petty, and hyperpartisan we have become.

As protests swept across Cuba this past week on a scale not seen in decades, you might have thought that here, at last, was an opportunity for bipartisan support of a common goal: Cuba Libre!

But if that is what you thought, think again.

Rather than an all-for-one-and-one-for-all spirit of cooperation in opposition to tyranny in the ancestral homeland of so many Floridians, the unrest in Cuba provided more evidence — if more evidence was needed — of just how politically impoverished, morally bankrupt, personally petty, and hyperpartisan we have become.

State Representative and Congressional candidate Omari Hardy, a Democrat, got the ball rolling by expressing his support for the Cuban people in their quest for freedom in a post on Twitter, but he could not resist pointing out that the protests in Cuba would be felonious aggravated riots under House Bill 1, the anti-riot measure recently passed by the Republican-dominated Legislature and signed with great fanfare by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

HB 1 was, from soup to nuts, a performative response to the rioting and looting that occurred last summer during Black Lives Matter protests in some cities outside Florida, which was Hardy’s point.

Hardy was, of course, right about Republican hypocrisy, but his narrative was no longer about Cubans struggling for freedom. It was about him and racial politics, as was made clear by his next tweet bemoaning how exhausted he is emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually by fighting racism: “Tired of a country that recognizes everyone’s claim to the American dream except for those of us on whose backs the dream was built.”

You may not be surprised to learn that Hardy is Black and that the Congressional district in which he is running has a majority of Black voters. A man has to have priorities.

Next up was Republican Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democrat running for Governor against Núñez’s boss, DeSantis, tweeted: “We all stand in solidarity with the Cuban people who ask for freedom …” That brought Núñez off the top rope: “They’re DEMANDING their God-given rights, not asking.”

Google petty partisanship and personal pique and Núñez’s photo should pop up.

Then U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio entered the fray. President Joe Biden had released a statement of solidarity with the Cuban people, supporting “their clarion call for freedom … from decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime.”

Nope. Not good enough for Lil’ Marco, as The Donald derisively dubbed him. He believed the statement should have pointed out that Cuba’s authoritarian regime was socialist and communist.

Not one or the other. Both.

This is a curious bit of grandstanding, given the fact that there is not a man, woman, or child in Cuba or Florida who does not know that the self-professed communist government in Cuba is, well, communist.

It did, however, attract the approving notice of DeSantis’ nominal press secretary and actual Twitter Troll-in-Chief and Diva of Deflection and Deception, Christina Pushaw. As is her wont, Pushaw was soon at the center of a maelstrom of misinformation.

Opening with her go-to “Media Bad” gambit, she lashed out at CNN’s man in Havana for uncritically parroting the government line.

Her reference was to the following post: “The Cuban government says there have been no further protests today but impossible to know what the real picture is across the island as much of Cuba remains under an internet blackout.”

Thus, the CNN correspondent merely reported the government’s statement, as was his job, and he then plainly said he could not confirm the statement’s veracity IN THE SAME SENTENCE.

A poor excuse for a parrot he is.

Reeling from bad to worse, Pushaw soon found herself in a tight spot as pro-Cuban demonstrators blocked major highways in several Florida cities, which is unlawful under HB 1, and others (in addition to Hardy) pointed out the hypocrisy of praising protests in Cuba that would be riots in Florida.

When newspaper editorials noted that HB 1 was not being enforced against pro-Cuban demonstrators as it would undoubtedly be against Black Lives Matter demonstrators, Pushaw and her Twitter auxiliaries began to lay down a thick smoke screen.

She tried to conflate blocking highways with rioting, saying no rioting was occurring and, therefore, no law was being broken. This is gaslighting with a lot of gall.

The prohibition on blocking thoroughfares in HB 1 is free-standing and unrelated to the existence of a riot.

Then DeSantis had his metaphorical pants pulled down by a reporter who asked why HB 1 was not being enforced. He ducked the question and did so badly, which led the Miami Herald’s editorial board to opine that it would have been more honest for him to simply say: “Nah, the Miami-Dade demonstrators seeking human rights in Cuba have nothing to fear from my anti-riot law. We created it to subdue Black folks seeking human rights in the United States.”

The truth of this assessment is now obvious (to all but the most obtuse), but the Herald is Pushaw’s special bugbear, so this truth caused her to lose her digital mind.

And she is still bouncing off the walls on social media as I write, misstating the law, misrepresenting the facts, and sending her digital devotees into battle again and again armed only with their credulity and their fawning admiration for her.

But to be fair, Pushaw should be frazzled.

Federal judges are swatting DeSantis’ unconstitutional legislative initiatives down like flies, Viking Cruises is suing him over his proof of vaccination prohibition, COVID-19 cases are ticking up, and now his Hispanic peeps, who are among those to whom he was pandering with HB 1, have literally sat down in the middle of the road and figuratively given him the finger.

Wait. Remind me. What was this all supposed to be about? Oh, yeah. Cuba.

Mac Stipanovich

J.M. “Mac” Stipanovich is a veteran political strategist and former lobbyist who served as chief of staff to former Gov. Bob Martinez.


  • Tom

    July 14, 2021 at 9:29 pm

    You can peacefully assemble.
    You can’t loot, rob, vandalize & non peacefully assemble. Wah, Wah & wah go join BLM since you care so much. Really, you compare the communists in Cuba and the people rejecting it.
    My goodness.

    • Tom Palmer

      July 14, 2021 at 11:00 pm

      DeSantis’ legislation bans blocking roads. Period.

    • Bill

      July 15, 2021 at 11:53 am

      They were blocking roads which is against the new law Desantis signed. Republicans always so hypocritical.

  • Lynn

    July 15, 2021 at 1:19 pm

    Basically, your article SUCKS and even giving a quote from racist Omari Hardy is nauseating.

  • Tom

    July 16, 2021 at 12:07 am

    Yes disgusting. Shameful.
    Go work for crispy critters.

Comments are closed.


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