By Mark David Blum, Esq.
Living up to a campaign promise, President Obama has recently made overtures to overturn fifty years of American foreign policy toward Cuba. Suddenly, the potential of a future relationship between the United States and the Island nation seems near. After all, for the past half century the United States has led a western nation embargo against Cuba solely because of its leader. With Castro gone, the time has come to reconsider our foreign policy.
Sitting just ninety miles off South Florida, the Island nation of Cuba is a paradise beyond description. Fixed in the mid-Caribbean, this place of endless sun and fun was once the playground of the rich and famous. In the late 1950’s, the then government of Juan Batiste` had opened the Island to gambling, prostitution, and all the fun and games nowadays found only in Las Vegas. Batiste made no secret about his accepting huge payoffs from American companies and criminal organizations for protection and construction. The then government of Cuba had a beautiful world available for tourists while at the same time, was abusing and torturing its own citizens.
History has taught us well that when a government is abusing its own citizenry, when the police and military are corrupt and used against the native population, there is going to be a citizen uprising. This is especially so in societies ravaged by poverty and brutality.
Out of the jungles of Cuba came a revolutionary; Fidel Castro. Driven by the politics and policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (and not Karl Marx), Castro's goal was the overthrow of the corrupt Batiste regime. Leading an army of the People, Castro eventually rid the nation of Batiste, the Mafia, and the corruption that cemented their power.
Those who profited and manipulated the corruption in Cuba fled the nation when Castro captured Havana. Thousands of rich militaristic corrupt Cubans sought shelter in the United States to avoid prosecution, incarceration, and perhaps execution. For the past near half century, these Cuban exiles have held the entire United States hostage to their virulent anti-Castro posture.
At the same time as Cuba was falling, America was swallowed up in the paranoia and fear fueled by Senator Joe McCarthy and the worldwide panic against “communism”. For as long as I remember, we did ‘drop drills’ in schools and were drilled on the evilness of ‘communism’. In fact, it was not until I was in college and forced to read the blatherings of Karl Marx that I came to understand there is a vast difference between ‘communism’ and the totalitarian regimes that had sprung up in its name.
Along with McCarthyism came the fear of the bomb. I grew up in the nuclear age when the possibility of a bomb falling could happen any day. We learned of the domino theory where if a single nation falls to the political system of “communism”, it will lead to another and another nation falling thereunder until the whole world sans America would be communist in construct.
As a result, for years America waged a war against communism. We built massive nuclear arsenals to hold off the Soviets. America waged war in Viet Nam to block the domino theory. We built bomb shelters, blockaded Cuba, and built the largest and most comprehensive spy network in the world as we fought the so-called Cold War.
Today we live in a different world. Starbucks in Beijing. McDonalds in Moscow. Poland joined NATO. The Soviet Union is no more. Former President Ronald Reagan once shouted out to the East … “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall.” Down forever came the Iron Curtain and with it the end of the Cold War. America is doing business with every former enemy country. President Bush dined in Viet Nam. John McCain toured the Hanoi Hilton. Even North Korea is not rejected as we feed them and send our emissaries to negotiate.
But our stance against Cuba remained firm. The former Batiste` exiles have used their political might and money to force the United States to remain in a state of cold war with Cuba. Despite being a small minority, Cubans in south Florida have managed to garner political muscle well beyond their means and have a voice louder than they deserve. The People of the United States have been manipulated by this minority for far too long.
Year after year and every time the discussion comes up, America is inundated with the high glossy imagery funded by the South Floridians. We hear how poor Cubans are. Stories are told of education camps, torture camps, and political prisoners. Horrifying at any level, these are the same stories we were told about the Soviets, the Poles, the Vietnamese, and the Chinese. In fact, the Chinese are still at their old game of incarcerate, torture, educate, and murder. Yet, the United States cannot throw enough money or political clout at the Chinese. We want to be their friends while at the same time, they are plotting our political and economic demise.
Poverty reigns supreme in Cuba but we cannot blame Castro or his government on that situation. Blockaded and embargoed since 1959, Cuba has struggled to get its goods to market and to import food stuffs and modern equipment. The Batiste` lovers in South Florida have spend a near half century trying to bankrupt Cuba in hopes doing so would drive Castro from power. That plot failed. Cuba has established itself as a strong military and political engine in regional politics. Imagine how much more better off would be the Cuban population had there been open trade and politics between our two nations.
It is proven over history that to change government, you need an intercourse of ideas and money. Consider the impact the recapture of Hong Kong has had upon the overall Chinese political system. Slowly they are developing capitalist markets and backing down on oppressive control. We need to infuse Cuba with American money, American ideas, and demonstrate the powers of the free market and people.
With Fidel Castro now gone from power, it is time to free the United States from being held hostage by a minority. Tyranny of the majority by the minority may have been a good idea in South Africa, but it fails the test of a free people.
I join with my President and repeat the words of not too long ago. “Mr. Obama, Tear Down That Wall” and end the Cuban embargo.