With the increased war on terrorism in the mid-east and the bubbling cauldron of all-out war looming in Ukraine, a major change in American policy has been lost in the events of the day. This change in American policy and a chance to strengthen friendships in the Americas is the re-establishment of diplomatic relationships with Cuba. While this will not take the same appearance as the Communist collapse we witnessed in Europe, it is still a resounding opportunity to provide a conduit for change in Cuba without military confrontation.
When I was in elementary school my father took a trip from Baton Rouge to Havana. He spoke of what a fun and beautiful country it was. Earnest Hemmingway spent many a day in Cuba and his last novel, “The Old Man and the Sea” was written there. Cuba was the Cancun of the day but with gambling and corruption added. Within weeks of my father returning from his trip Castro came out of the mountains with his revolutionaries and everything changed.
Castro was in a fight to overthrow the Batista administration. Initially America supported this overthrow and even placed trade restrictions on the Batista Administration, encouraging him to leave the country. Castro took control of the country and aligned himself with Russia. This took place in the middle of the Cold War and thus Cuba’s embracing of Communism made it a quick enemy. Millions fled the Communist regime and many of these refugees landed and remained in Miami and Southern Florida. This centralized population of Cuban refugees is the most vocal group in the country calling for the downfall of the Castro regime.
America slapped economic sanctions on Cuba and this has been in place for over fifty years. America supported a failed coupe attempt when refugees from America invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Any actions taken by either country was a disaster in diplomatic relations. There were accusations that America’s CIA tried to poison Castor with sea urchin poison or some other the venom of some other sea creature. Rumors surrounded Cuba as to being responsible for the assassination of President John Kennedy. Diplomatic relations with the two countries were severed over deep rifts in diplomacy and until December of last year America had no diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Over the years Cuba relied on Russia and the communist block for support. Cuba also supported the communist cause by exporting communist ideology and even troops to countries of the Americas and even Africa. These troops were well trained, well organized, well-funded from Russia and accepted by the general Cuban population. When a Cuban died in combat the body was never returned to Cuba for burial. This was an accepted norm.
When America embargoed Cuba time began to stand still. Cars of 1950s vintage are still running the streets of Havana in pristine condition. New cars from the United States do not exist. Life continued and although oppressed the population lives their lives day to day. Much of the world we know today has never been introduced to the masses of Cuba. When a person loses something they feel the pain. When a person has never been associated to modern technology they have nothing to compare what a modern life is as to what they have. This is why the sanctions imposed on places like Cuba and Iran are not working. The world innovations and inventions have passed the countries by and they do not understand what they are missing. Only if a country loses creature comforts in a quick manner will sanctions work. This may work in sanctions on Russia today, it didn’t work in Cuba. This is why re-establishing diplomatic relations is so important.
After fifty years of strangling Cuba economically with the hope of killing the Castro regime, the policy has failed. Now with diplomatic relations restored a new era in the Americas is possible. Trade relations will be restored and many a car plowing the streets of Havana will adorn collectors garage’s around the country. American tourist will pour into the beautiful Caribbean country and Costa Maya in Mexico will have a rival. When we lift our own oil export embargo to the world, we will have a new market for crude and refined products. Automobiles will roll off assembly lines in the United States, onto American flagged ships and sail to Cuba.
The biggest thing that we will export is not goods and services. It will be Americanism and it will not be clandestine or covert in the delivery method. It will be the American tourist that visits the country that shows that we are not an evil country but instead a warm and friendly that is more interested in the beaches of Havana instead of colonizing their nation. The internet will provide a new perspective to the Cuban citizens that will allow the population to make decisions on its’ own.
The next few weeks we will explore the history and culture of our neighbor from the south and a new country has now been added to my bucket list.


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