You may have heard the recent news concerning members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California), visited the island-nation of Cuba and even met with Cuban "President Emeritus" Fidel Castro. Unsurprisingly the response by some Republican members of congress derided the expedition as a slap in the face to democracy. For nearly a half-century, the Cuban government under Castro's regime has been villified. Perhaps with good reason.
There is no doubt many of the Cuban government's practices - including seizure of private assets or the treatment (mis-treatment, perhaps?) of its citizens has been abominable. This has led the US to instill economic sanctions against the Cuban government.
While it is fair to say Cuba has not been an innocent victim, many of her people are. The goals facilitating the 1959 revolution were, perhaps, overly idealistic, but at some point it was an ideology gone awry. Unfortunately those punished most heavily are likely those who contributed least.
What do I mean by the previous statement? Well, when I think of Cuba, I often think not only of a beautiful, exotic place so near yet so very far away, I also cannot help but wonder how much US policies toward Cuba have done to unduly penalize the people of Cuba in terms of their economic well being. Maybe I'm off-base and my assumptions are completely unfounded. Yet somehow, the idiomadic phrase, "throwing out the baby with the bathwater" immediately comes to mind. Cliché it may be, nevertheless I'm fearful it is quite appropos. Have the Cuban people felt the pinch many more times than Fidel Castro ever could? I don't know the answer. But I am certainly left to wonder whether our darker hued brothers and sisters have been the so-called "collateral damage" in this protracted battle.
As the years continue to pass some of Cuba's most stalwart critics have passed on - most prominent among them, the late Republican senator from North Carolina, Jesse Helms. It is also important to note the families who fled Cuba for America's shores in the early 1960s are now third and even fourth generation US citizens. The same passions that enveloped their parents and grand-parents toward Castro are not nearly as heightened (if at all). Many have desire to learn more of their ancestral roots and don't see Cuba in quite the same way.
Rhetorically speaking, Cuba can still be valuable, this was especially true in the days prior to the War on Terror. Since that time, the currency Cuba paid dividends as the so-called enemy has weakened. During the Cold War and perhaps even more so after the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba's presence gave the United States an enemy who not only was tangible and recognizable (in Castro), but also an enemy that was almost completely neutered. While there may have once been a Cuban Missle Crisis nearly five decades ago, does anyone truly view Cuba as a military threat today?
I am not absolving Cuba of injustices against it's citizens, at the same time I firmly believe the US must take the moral high ground it so staunchly trumps and allow the Cold War to thoroughly thaw once and for all.
Well, I gotta scoot...
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