Last weekend, Cubans from across the island nation—from Havana to Santiago—took to the streets, rising up against the Communist-run government, as they face the worst economic conditions in decades. While the Cuban people have long-suffered under authoritarian rule, the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated their hardships and further revealed the abject failures of socialism.

Immediately, videos of the demonstrations flooded social media. It’s been inspiring to see the people of Cuba reject generations of dictatorship and demand liberty. And in many of their hands they carried the ultimate symbol of liberty–an American flag.

While some people in this country may not agree, the American flag represents hope, opportunity, and freedom—not just within our borders, but across the world. The principles of democracy represented by our stars and stripes are what the Cuban people deserve to have too. Here in Iowa, and across America, we hear their calls and stand united with these men and women in their fight for liberty.

The movement being led by the courageous people of Cuba also serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of socialism and communism. These repressive ideologies have failed every time, and in Cuba they’ve led to 62 years of corruption and poverty. The sad reality is many in the Democratic Party ignore the evidence in front of them of what communism entails. Instead, they continue to march towards the far Left and promote socialism or socialist principles right here in America.

During my time at Iowa State University I attended an agriculture exchange program in the Soviet Union. I witnessed the devastation of socialism and communism up close, and I immediately realized how truly grateful I was for the many freedoms offered to me as an American. I’ve spent my life defending our American ideals, in uniform and now in the United States Senate. Now, it’s important for the United States to stand with the Cuban people who yearn for the same basic human rights and democracy that we enjoy.

These historic demonstrations mark a turning point. The Biden Administration must be steadfast and clear in their support for the Cuban people. I’m hopeful the men and women of Cuba can chart a new path forward—one of liberty and opportunity.

Joni Ernst, a native of Red Oak and a combat veteran, represents Iowa in the United States Senate.