Díaz-Canel is a dictator of my heart: Lis Cuesta - GulfToday

Díaz-Canel is a dictator of my heart: Lis Cuesta

Lis Cuesta Peraza

Lis Cuesta with husband Miguel Díaz-Canel. (Twitter)

Fabiola Santiago, Tribune News Service

“Dictator of my heart.” Ah love — it can be used or abused for nefarious political purposes. Just ask Cuba’s oppressor-in-charge, Miguel Díaz-Canel, and his adoring wife, Lis Cuesta.

In an effort to clean up Díaz-Canel’s bully image — after he brutally quashed historic and peaceful protests last July and ordered Cubans to fight each other to defend his regime — the couple has engaged for months in corny public displays of affection on Twitter.

Sunday morning, however, the lovefest backfired, when Cuesta’s attempt to flatter her strongman went awry. She called Díaz-Canel in a tweet what he is — a dictator.

“El que es lindo lo es! Y, además, por dentro y por fuera: el dictador de mi corazón,” she tweeted.

Translation: “That he is beautiful, he is! And furthermore, inside and out: the dictator of my heart.”

She added pulsing heart emojis to clear up any doubts.

Twitter World went wild.

He, in turn, tweeted in response from his account, quoting a song by Silvio Rodríguez, one of the few 1970s troubadours to remain faithful to the regime: “Te amaré hasta el fin de los tiempos. Te amaré y después te amaré.”

“I will love you to the end of time. I will love you and then I will love you.”

The stomach lurches. The propaganda fail over their public pillow talk instantly became the rage, spreading to other social media as Cuba watchers, Cubans on the island and those scattered all over the world after decades of exile chimed in with sexual jokes and reminders of Díaz-Canel’s acts of repression.

People used a mix of humor, irony and outrage to expose the couple’s hypocrisy, their disconnect from Cuban reality on the streets and the ruthless mandate of the Castros’ heir.

“This must be the first time in 60 years that you say something that represents the thinking of the Cuban people,” human rights activist Agustín Antonetti responded to Cuesta. “We all agree, he is your dictator and that of eleven million other Cubans.”

To which another activist, Pedro Victor, added: “Minus the pretty part, on that point she lied as always.”

The word “dictador” started trending in Cuba — used 21,000 times Sunday alone, according to a screen capture — and the hashtag #EnCubaHayUnaDictadura had a good run.

The banter was still going strong Tuesday.

The memes on both sides are priceless.

Those from pro-Castro Cubans called to defend their first lady and “presidente”-in-love, look like promos for a telenovela and sound like self-help affirmations on the value of amor, mucho amor, as the late astrologer Walter Mercado would say with flair.

From people oppressed and exiled, the memes depict cartoonish bed scenes between the couple, hilarious made-up dialogue between them, Fidel Castro opining from the grave and photo-shopped images of Díaz-Canel in the company of gay men.

Serious posts in response to the lovebirds contain information about the Cuban women arrested Sunday at a church in eastern Holguín, the wife and sisters of jailed July 11 demonstrator Maikel Rodríguez. Others reposted on Cuesta’s thread Associated Press photos of the government’s violent response to the protests.

Best of all, the first lady’s musings, and her inadequate response to the criticism, brought new, much-needed attention to the harsh prison sentences Díaz-Canel’s government is handing down to hundreds of young people for protesting policies like his art censorship law.

Youths as young as 16 who took to the streets to protest remain in detention.

“Lis Cuesta says that ‘her love bothers us’ .... madam, we are bothered by political prisoners, misery, exodus and lack of freedoms. ... her love is tremendously irrelevant,” tweeted human rights activist Jorge Castro.

It was about time the good guys in Cuba’s ongoing story of dissent scored another blow against the regime, which is jailing and exiling dissident leaders and facilitating a new exodus to get rid of the internal opposition.

By Tuesday afternoon, the Cuban apparatus had unearthed oodles of its predictable go-to propaganda tools to drown out the clever criticism — dead Fidel hoisting a flag at a historic location, calls for the end to the embargo, etc. But there was no drowning out the hashtags: #AbajoLaDictadura (down with the dictarorship) #LibertadParaLosPresosPoliticos (freedom for political prisoners) and #SOSCuba, among many others.

It’s safe to say Díaz-Canel’s image problem didn’t get a makeover. It morphed into a rehash of his undemocratic rule and crimes against his people.  Instead of winning his people’s affection with openness and reforms, the strongman charged with succeeding the infamous Castro brothers has developed a mighty branding problem — all of his own doing and well-deserved.

He’s the bull’s-eye for criticism, coming at him even from Cuba’s left. To fix it, he’s going to have to do more than romance his wife on Twitter.

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