This article appeared in the July 16, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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The US immigrant ties that bind – from Cuba to Belarus to Haiti

Linda Feldmann/The Christian Science Monitor
Cuban Americans protest against the Cuban government on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House on July 14, 2021.
Linda Feldmann
Washington Bureau Chief

The sidewalks outside the White House are teeming with life again, a welcome sight after more than a year closed to pedestrians. Cue the protesters, a reminder that free speech is a bedrock American value – and a sign that, despite its challenges, Washington remains a beacon of hope for Americans of many proud national origins. 

This week, it was Cuban Americans, shouting “Libertad!” – liberty – and wearing “SOS Cuba” T-shirts in support of the rare protests taking place on the communist island nation.

“We want a military intervention to throw out the regime,” says Havana native Camilo Sanchez, a Cuban flag draped over his shoulders. 

On Sunday, it will be Belarusian Americans staging a rally, on nearby Freedom Plaza. The former Soviet republic’s opposition leader, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, will be in Washington next week for meetings, including at the White House. Her supporters view her as president-elect of Belarus, after strongman Alexander Lukashenko claimed electoral victory last summer amid allegations of widespread fraud. 

Belarusian immigrant Denis Baranov, who arrived here as a teen 20 years ago, tells me the best outcome of Ms. Tsikhanouskaya’s visit would be quick U.S. actions that “really hurt Lukashenko and his cronies” – say, stricter economic sanctions. 

Haitian Americans, too, are watching the Biden administration closely after the July 7 assassination of Haiti’s president. And even though Haitian authorities requested a U.S. military intervention to stabilize the country, Haitian Americans are wary of the idea, given the U.S.’s fraught history there. 

Each country’s situation is unique, but there’s a common thread: the deep connection many U.S. immigrants feel to their native land. 

This article appeared in the July 16, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 07/16 edition
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