Most American politicians and pundits have a strange view of the world. Every mass protest, however peaceful, in countries to which the United States is hostile is a popular demand for regime change or revolution. Every mass protest, however deadly or violent, in countries with which the US is friendly, is either ignored or downplayed. Human rights apply with a laser focus in the former but usually overlooked in the latter case. This wasn’t something I cared about for much of my adult life, because it didn’t really affect Hong Kong – until recently. But since we are now the target of Washington’s constant hypocritical and often absurd attacks and sanctions, you tend to read world headlines differently. Consider Cuba and South Africa today, and the responses of the government and media of the US. More than 70 people have died since unrest broke out in the African country over the jailing of ex-president Jacob Zuma. In Cuba? Possibly one person has died during clashes with police. What was President Joe Biden ’s response to Cuba, America’s long-time nemesis in the Caribbean? China calls on US to end economic blockade of Cuba after protests “We stand with the Cuban people and their clarion call for freedom and relief from the tragic grip of the pandemic and from the decades of repression and economic suffering to which they have been subjected by Cuba’s authoritarian regime,” he said in an official statement. Strong words there! And South Africa? There was a comment or something from a junior White House spokesperson. Late last month, 184 countries in the United Nations General Assembly – that’s almost 94 per cent of all the nations in the world – voted in favour of a resolution to demand the end of the American economic blockade on Cuba, for the 29th year in a row, with the US and Israel voting against. International law? The international community? A rules-based international system? They are for other countries, not America. In fact, Cuba’s dire economic conditions have a lot to do with Washington’s decades-long sanctions, which were temporarily relaxed under Barack Obama but reinstated and actually toughened under Donald Trump and continued with Biden. What about the hundreds of assassination attempts – apparently a Guinness world record – and a few failed coups against the late Fidel Castro regime? The Bay of Pigs, anyone? Or the unnatural obsession of Washington that led to the Cuban missile crisis, the closest that humanity had ever come to the brink of a thermonuclear war? If the Soviets hadn’t backed off then, you and I probably wouldn’t be here today. Explainer | Causes of the protests in Cuba That unnatural obsession with bringing down Cuba’s socialist government continues today in Washington. The US sanctions make normal developments of import and export, trade and industry, difficult, if not impossible for Cuba over the decades. They have also blocked international medical aid to help Cuba deal with the current Covid-19 crisis. Thankfully, for an underdeveloped economy, the country has an excellent public health system. Meanwhile, the US Treasury Department’s more recent restrictions on remittances from Cubans in the diaspora mean the country loses hundreds of millions a year. Imagine what would happen to the economies of the Philippines and Indonesia if their foreign workers were blocked from sending money back home. It’s interesting that the US and Israel – the two buddied countries that together hold the highest record of defying UN resolutions – are pursuing the same cruel strategy, over Cuba and the Gaza Strip respectively: if you squeeze a people badly enough, maybe they will bring down their own government. So far, the imposition of suffering has worked fine; the regime change, not so much. This time in Cuba, it won’t be much different either.