China and Cuba partnership a major threat right in our backyard

Ken Pope, VOC’s CEO, and Congresswoman María Elvira Salazar, representing Florida’s 27th District, argue that Congress should act on the growing communist threat in America’s backyard. Read their joint op-ed published by Fox News below:

“The Cuban regime has allegedly agreed to host Chinese intelligence services on the island in a multibillion-dollar deal, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.

Roughly 100 miles from American soil, this partnership would provide Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping with the unprecedented opportunity to access sensitive U.S. communications, including high-value targets such as military bases and naval traffic. 

The Biden administration should take the latest communist threat to our nation seriously. 

If true, this escalation from Beijing and Havana poses a major provocation and security threat, not only to the U.S., but to freedom throughout the Western Hemisphere.

This is not the first time that Havana has enabled hostile powers to surveil the U.S. in our backyard – the Castro regime hosted similar facilities with the Soviet Union, and later with Russia after the collapse of the USSR. 

The burgeoning Cuban-Chinese partnership, however, poses a clear and present danger to our national security that harkens back to the Cold War. And if left unchecked, will only signal American weakness to a probing and increasingly bellicose China. 

Beijing and Havana have made their intentions toward those who oppose their authoritarian will brutally clear. At home, research from the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC) shows that China is carrying out cultural genocide and mass internment of the Uyghurs on a scale not seen since the Holocaust.

In Cuba, a new VOC report exposes the regime’s modern-day gulag, quelling dissent with a horrific and pervasive use of torture, even on minors. Abroad, this malign duo is subverting democracy across the globe, from Latin America to East Asia.    

In the U.S., the Cuban regime expends considerable efforts to hide its true anti-American nature and portray itself as a benign, reformist government. 

Tragically, President Biden’s head of Cuba policy, Juan S. Gonzalez, senior director for the Western Hemisphere at the National Security Council, has been advocating for an opening of the U.S.-Cuban relationship, which draws into question the U.S. embargo on Cuba and a possible reversal of Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terror. 

This would be a critical policy mistake and only strengthen Havana’s malign toolkit. 

America cannot afford to show weakness in the face of our communist adversaries. Indeed, Cuba and China’s goals of expanding their authoritarian influence in the Western Hemisphere will only continue if we continue to downplay the threat, or worse, fail to deploy a strategic response. 

Washington should take swift action to retaliate against this growing malign alliance in our backyard. New sanctions and other punitive measures are a start and warranted. 

As Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., chairman of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party suggests, it’s time to take long overdue actions against the CCP, such as “ending Huawei export licenses, restricting outbound investment in crucial sectors in the PRC, closing the de minimis loop, enhancing research security, and preventing CCP land purchases near military bases.”

The administration should take up Congress’ call for action. Let’s hope it’s not too late.”

Ken Pope is CEO of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

Rep. María Elvira Salazar, a Republican, represents Florida’s 27th Congressional District.