When Cubans in the Island -including the Cuban government- say, "the whole world is wrong and we are right" they say it with an ironical, joking twist, something that is perceptible in Cuba’s streets and in the on-going process of “adjustment” of its socio-economic model.
Here in Miami, we Cuban-Americans echo the same sentiment and use the same phrase with regard to the Cuban embargo, but, amazingly (and sadly), we mean it...
That senseless mantra -which is ensconced in US policy towards Cuba- has led the US to refuse to play ball with the Cuban regime -as we have with China, with Vietnam and with other less than scrupulous regimes- and simply let the ball play us (in the guise of a dissident's suicide, a brutal and violent shoot-down of unarmed aircrafts, a new wave of repression and incarcerations) whenever a bearded Providence throws the ball at us.
What we do not seem to understand is that it is in the Cuban regime's interest for us to continue in this reactive mode, whenever the ball hits us, which is usually when we least expect it to. They can afford to be ironic about their being right and the whole world wrong, because they are in power, in control; we are not. We have not accomplished anything in over fifty years of dismissing what the rest of the world thinks of our policy towards Cuba, and we will not until we see the irony in it and decide to change it. To do so, we first need to change our collective attitude via a vis Cuba and its future, beginning by adopting a proactive stance.
Either there is no real embargo / blockade which can have and is having a starving impact on Cuba, or the US (with the support of a couple of UN General Assembly members like Palau, because Israel is not blockading Cuba either, despite its usual "solidarity vote" in the long running Boradway play the annual rite of voting against US sanctions has become) should hold on to it in order to starve them of a cash influx, as some believe. But we cannot have it both ways: in Argie-speak that would entail claiming "la chancha y los veinte", and that is a no-no in one of Argentina’svenerable card games.
Spinners have been running their mouths and pens on this issue of the effectiveness of the embargo for years, on both sides of the Florida Straits. Foreign policy-wise, it is sense-less for the US to hold on to the all but symbolic embargo, only because some very deeply hurt and (unfortunately) bitter, hard-nosed and, more importantly, well heeled players in the Cuban-American exile community cannot live with the idea of either Castro eventually crowing over its demise, and they are willing to put their money where their collective ego is. By so doing, they are holding hostage this and future generations of Cuban youths -people like the blogger Yoanni Sanchez- who could care less about bragging rights among the members of their grand-parent's generation.
A lifting of the American embargo would help those within the regime in Havana who want to move in a more liberal direction. Such a change in the atmosphere of what has been, for over fifty years, a sadly and incomprehensibly barren "relationship" for both, Cuba and the US, is likely to open minds (maybe even doors) inside Cuba. Something like a photograph of Fidel besides Pope John Paul II years ago (Fidel with Hillary? With Obama?), may undermine those who are prone to choose repression over liberalism.
It will also do wonders for the US relationship with the rest of its hemispheric neighbors.
So who benefits from keeping the embargo in place: the Cuban and the Miami Taliban, but also the avid money grabbers, also known as petty politicians, who feed off the hands of the pro-embargo camp.
A recent poll –immediately vilified by wonks from the Reagan era and other worn out right-handed pitchers (lobbyists or self proclaimed “experts”) from the “traditional” Cuban exile bullpen- shows that most Americans, even Cuban-Americans, and an even larger majority of South Floridians, want the embargo gone.
Clinging to the embargo makes our hailed "democracy" something ever more difficult to explain, not to mention export.
So take heart, Mr. Obama. There are many things you can do to tear it down, even if in stages, specially if you recognize the embargo as the national policy issue (failed policy at that) it is and you wrestle it away from those who have, for many years, used it to get elected to local governments or even school boards in South Florida.
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