Skip to content Skip to footer

How ‘freedom’ became a scary word

THE WORLD’S WEALTHIEST, most militaristic country wants to deliver “freedom” to Cuba, a tiny community which has committed the unforgivable sin of doing things in a more socialist way. But whatever your politics, the extraordinary re-purposing of the word “freedom” as a tool to amplify unrest and distort discussions should concern us all.

Hong Kong people, in particular, have seen this entire process before. In fact, we could pretty much write the script for what’s happening in Cuba ourselves. Ten things to consider:


Yes, there are social and economic problems in Cuba. That’s how it works. The destabilization process ALWAYS piggybacks itself on genuine grievances. These are amplified with a disinformation campaign.

At least 1,500 of the social media accounts that participated in the #SOSCuba operation were created in a 48-hour period: July 10 and 11, said Julian Macias Tovar, social media analyst, pictured below.


Cuban internet investigators found the majority of the fake tweets came from the United States. 

The tweets focused on the narrative key word “freedom” and pointedly instructed readers to dismiss any suggestion that the US embargo had any relevance to what was happening.

One of the main pro-US social media voices talking to Cubans was a notorious anti-government source called Yusnaby.

Yusnaby, Cubans wryly noted, is pronounced like “U.S. Navy” said with an accent. 


Many of the messages came from random “pretty” faces and were bot-signed up so quickly that they didn’t have time to delete the automatically generated numbers after their fake names.

So “Rachel” (see below), who looks like a supermodel, apparently likes to be known as Rachel76039947.


The entire, huge torrent of messages took a pro-US and anti-government stance, and many said the exact same thing in the exact same words. They were clearly fake but Twitter did not delete them.

Many of the pro-US, anti-government voices on social media joined recently, have no friends or followers, and somewhat unusual names!


The early Cuban protests were small (a few hundred people) but received far more coverage than much, much larger events elsewhere. Independent media outlet BT News noted that more than 100,000 people marched for Palestine, such as in the demonstration pictured below, at the same time, but got far less coverage.

March for Palestine on July 12


When Hong Kongers see something like this happening, we wait. We wait for the mainstream media to give the protesters/ pro-US side full ownership of words like “freedom” and “democracy”.  At the same time, they will unfairly label the home team/ government as the enemies of freedom and democracy. 

Here’s the New York Times doing precisely that in a hilariously blatant manner: “Shouting ‘freedom’ and other anti-government slogans. . . ”!


The small size of many of the Cuba demonstrations was a problem for the pro-NATO narrative. 

Below is CNN misleading people into thinking the picture it is using comes from Cuba when it’s actually from Miami, as the street sign shows. TYT repeatedly did the same thing.


By Sunday night, some Hong Kongers watching the process were already waiting for US President Joseph Biden to perform his part in the script, saying something that associates one side with “freedom” and the other with the words “authoritarian regime.” 

On Monday, he did just that.


Below is a widely reprinted NYT report which misled countless millions of readers into thinking this AP picture of a reasonably well-attended gathering was of a pro-US, anti-govt protest, when it was actually a pro-government rally. 

Fox News and the Financial Times did the same thing with the same picture.

This picture actually showed a pro-government rally. (Spotter: Alan MacLeod)


By Tuesday, newswatchers in Hong Kong were waiting for the next standard element in the destabilization script  — which would be for the comically biased Amnesty International to do its normal trick.

Amnesty works hard to produce reports making the home team look like faceless killing machines, and the pro-US, anti-govt side look like young, cool human beings with glorious US flags calling for, yes, “freedom” (libertad). 

On Wednesday Amnesty International did precisely that, as you can see from the lead elements on the front page of the UK organization’s Cuba report, below.

Amnesty International is “comically biased”


In fact, the Cuba protests have been so predictable that Hong Kong people can even tell you the next steps coming up.

There will be demands for US troops to come and “solve” the problem.

There will be complaints of police brutality.

The UK and the US will say they “stand with” one side, as if they know for a fact that group of protesters represents everyone.

And we’ll all see the same words repeated over and over again — “freedom” on the pro-US side and “authoritarian regime” on the other.


By claiming “freedom” as a sacred principle it owns, the United States has given itself licence to ignore the global community. 

Just last month, the United Nations overwhelmingly voted in favour of a resolution to demand the end of the US economic blockade on Cuba, for the 29th year in a row. 

The United States ignored it, as did the media. 


This week, a US politician used the word “freedom” four times in a single tweet about Cuba. “America stands for freedom,” said the unintentionally hilarious declamation by Val Demings of Florida.

I’m assuming that staff at the New York Times have enough self-awareness to know that the word “freedom” used in the American way is seen by people outside the US as a joke – but I may be wrong.

Perhaps some US citizens have a more sophisticated understanding of the situation than journalists: the humorous meme at the top of this post is widely shared in various forms and appears to originate in the United States. Here’s another version:

But some journalists don’t get the joke. One of the New York Times write-ups about the Cuba protests included a starry-eye quote from a protester: “What I saw today was people seeing freedom for the first time.” 


For more than 40 years, the world has watched the CIA travelling the globe to rebrand pro-US groups, however violent they are, as the voices of “freedom”, and home teams as the enemies of freedom, however well they feed and serve their populace.

Few people know this better than the Hong Kong people. During the US-backed riots of 2019, a Hong Kong friend posted terrifying images of black-clad thugs, radicalized by endless Apple Daily reports, storming into a spotless train station and using iron rods to terrorize staff and smash everything in sight. 

His caption: “Freedom is coming.”

Leave a comment


Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Be the first to know the latest updates

[yikes-mailchimp form="1"]