Follow Us

Cuba spent years training anti-Israel activists behind campus protests

Multiple organizers have close ties to the communist country.

Published: May 7, 2024 10:54am

Cuba has spent years training some of the anti-Israel protest organizers behind the recent demonstrations on college campuses, according to a new investigation that shows the communist country's close ties to the U.S. progressive movement.

One of the most prominent activists, Manolo De Los Santos, first visited Cuba as early as 2009, and he has been featured prominently in Cuban-state-owned media since at least 2016, ADN American reported Tuesday following an extensive investigation by the outlet.

Just the News briefly spoke with De Los Santos, the founder of The People's Forum, a self-described New York City-based "movement incubator," while he attended a "Gaza Solidarity Encampment" protest earlier this month at Fordham University's Lincoln Center campus. While De Los Santos said he has never visited the region of Palestine, he said he has been at protests "across the city," including Columbia University and City College, to support the students in their protests against Israel. 

De Los Santos has a long history of collaboration with top Cuban officials, including Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel. For example, last year, De Los Santos posted on X, formerly Twitter, that he spent 10 days in Cuba "learning with its people & President Miguel Diaz-Canel." He said that young people in the U.S. "have a responsibility to defeat, once & for all, this genocidal blockade" of Cuba. The term "blockade" is used by critics to refer to the U.S. trade embargo on the island nation.

The day of the Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas attack that resulted in the deaths of about 1,200 people in Israel, and the kidnapping of 250 others, De Los Santos made multiple posts on X celebrating the attacks. His organization also organized a demonstration in Times Square on Oct. 8, where attendees voiced their support for the attack, which was the largest massacre of Jews in a single day since the Holocaust.

De Los Santos was also "based out of Cuba for many years," according to his biography that was featured when he spoke at an event in 2021 for the Black Alliance for Peace, an anti-Israel, pro-Cuba organization. 

De Los Santos has also worked with other left-wing organizations that support Cuba such as Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples, the National Network on Cuba and the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization, per ADN America. 

There are multiple other organizers affiliated with the communist Caribbean nation as well. 

For example, activist Calla Walsh, the co-chair of the National Network on Cuba who was indicted earlier this year for attacking an Israeli-affiliated defense contractor in New Hampshire, reportedly spent years traveling to Cuba with the Venceremos Brigade. The group is closely linked to the Cuban intelligence apparatus, per the FBI.

Onyesonwu Chatoyer, who also visited Cuba with the Venceremos Brigade, is part of the leftist groups All-African Women's Revolutionary Union, All-African People's Revolutionary Party and Hood Communist, and she participated in a virtual teach-in event earlier this year titled "Zionism is Against Africa and Africans," per The Stu Studio, a citizen journalist account on X.

Black Alliance for Peace member Erica Caines, who traveled with Chatoyer to Cuba earlier this year, organized an "Autonomous Zone" for Nicaragua last month. She also traveled to Nicaragua last year and met President Daniel Ortega, who has been dubbed a dictator by critics for his repression of dissenters. Caines was a featured speaker for an Activist Network News webinar titled, "Black Freedom Struggle & Palestine."

Follow Madeleine Hubbard on X or Instagram.

Just the News Spotlight

Support Just the News