The Afro-Cuban model and singer, daughter of comedian Alexis Valdés, spoke out against Black Lives Matter's stance on the political and humanitarian crisis taking place on the island.   

Por Karla Montalván
Julio 15, 2021
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América Valdés has become the voice for GenZ Cubans everywhere, never more so than this week. The 19-year-old influencer expressed her disappointment toward the Black Lives Matter movement after the group released a statement condemning the United States government for the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Cuba. 

"I'm not going to lie, I'm a little bit crushed right now," the model said on a video posted to her social media. "It becomes clear to me that before black lives, and before ending police brutality comes your political ideology. That is what's on top for you. That is your priority." 

On Wednesday, the group wrote: "Black Lives Matter condemns the U.S. federal government's inhumane treatment of Cubans and urges it to immediately lift the economic embargo. This cruel and inhumane policy, instituted with the explicit intention of destabilizing the country and undermining Cuban's right to choose their own government is at the heart of Cuba's current crisis."  

According to Valdés, BLM is wrong. "Cubans aren't chanting 'End the Embargo' as they risk their lives to protest on the island. They're protesting, and they're screaming libertad. They are asking for FREEDOM" Valdés informs BLM in a video posted to her Instagram, Twitter and TikTok accounts.   

America Valdes
America Valdes
| Credit: Laura Aranda

On July 11th, thousands of Cubans marched on the streets from Santiago to Havana on the largest anti-regime demonstration in recent history. Protesters called for "freedom" and the removal of Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel in the streets throughout the island, even in front of Havana's Capitol building.  

The movement erupted after Cuba reached its worst economic crisis and a record rate of coronavirus infections, leaving dozens dead on the streets of Matanzas. Civilians began reaching out to the international community via social media, pleading for humanitarian aid to assuage the lack of essential goods and a collapsed medical system.   

Peaceful protesters in Cuba were met with police and military brutality as Díaz-Canel ordered that all actions necessary should be taken against the protesters demanding freedom. Additionally, electricity and internet connectivity were cut off for citizens on the island, prohibiting the dissemination of information. 

Voices like Valdés have been an essential component in sharing the human rights violations committed by the Cuban government, in addition to educating the international community on Cuban issues.  

She previously posted a video that went viral on TikTok after actress Mia Khalifa commented on the embargo and crisis in Cuba. Khalifa responded positively to Valdés' post, retracting her original sentiments and thanking her for the clarifications.  

"People are not going hungry because there's an embargo. There's fish and lobster in hotels for tourists, but no food for the people", Valdés tells People CHICA. "There's food in supermarkets that you can only purchase from if you have U.S. dollars, and people don't earn U.S. dollars. There are fruits and vegetables that go bad in the countryside because the government doesn't collect it in time. But if a Cuban was to collect it and feed it to their family, they would be imprisoned."  

cuba protestas
Credit: (YAMIL LAGE/AFP via Getty Images)

As to what the future holds for Cubans on the island, Valdés hopes that a combination of actions from the international community, the Cuban diaspora, and Cuban citizens will help ease the experience of living on the island.   

"Look at where we are. Our whole country that doesn't even have freedom of assembly has gotten up and taken to the streets against the regime with no weapons — with sticks and rocks," tells People CHICA. "They protested for days. That is insanity! They protested with no food, with nothing in their system [bodies]. I can't even begin to question what's going to happen next because this is something I thought I'd never get to see in my lifetime. I never thought I'd see my people this way, and now the world has seen my people this way."