If you follow the news you know that just an hour or so ago President Obama announced his intentions to normalize relations with Cuba. before we go any further on that topic there are some things You probably don’t know about Our neighbor to the south. I highly recommend that if you are interested you watch the Documentary about Castro by PBS
One thing you will learn is what you didn’t learn in school. At the time of the Cuban Revolution a middle class was almost non existent, quality healthcare and education were accessible only by the wealthy. Sound familiar? it should. You may have known that though but did you know that 75% of Cuban land was owned by American Companies? These companies were exploiting The Cuban population and as any good Republican will tell you….You can only exploit people who allow you to exploit them.
Well Fidel Castro mobilized the large Cuban underclass and said you wont exploit us any longer and the people revolted and won.
What many Americans do not know is that at the time Americans by and large saw Fidel Castro as a hero. the American press in particular. In 1959 after winning the revolution he visited New York City where he was generally treated like a rock star.
But while the press may have loved him the government didn’t. After the revolution the first visit he made was to the United States, in an effort to thwart rumors that he was “communist” and to normalize relations with his closest neighbor.
The government saw him as a threat, particularly his intentions to nationalize property owned by American Corporations and President Eisenhower snubbed him when he visited. Subsequent attempts to mend relations crumbled particularly under President Kennedy, who on at least one occasion attempted to have Castro assassinated and also launched the ill fated Bay of Pigs invasion in an attempt to overthrow Castros’ rule. Castro, left with no other options opened relations with the USSR. The Us retaliated with trade embargoes, Cuba retaliated by expelling American Companies and here we are 50 years later with an ineffective trade embargo that does little more than harm both countries in my opinion.
Dont get me wrong here, there is reasonable evidence that Castro has some pretty serious human rights violations under his belt, but then you could say the same about George H W Bush as well.
In the end President Obama made the right move, a move that should have been made long ago. The trade sanctions clearly did not work, it is time to move on. If you want freedom to take root you cant force it on people. you must root it in the examples you set forth in policy. One could argue that most Cubans under Castro had more freedom than they had under Battista, but the point is moot. The best way to better relation is a better understanding of each other and that comes from contact with other peoples.
What will be next for Cuba? Will it become an island vacation paradise or another Haiti? Time will tell.