“If You Truly Want to End Communism in Cuba, Lift the Embargo.”
A conversation with my father (Cuban political prisoner of 17 years) and my thoughts.
Today I spoke with my father regarding the ongoing and impressive anti-government movement throughout all of Cuba and the subsequent dramatic manifestations which have exploded in Miami within the past two days.
I asked him what he thought about the protest and lack of embargo discussions in Miami, his response was; “If you want to end communism in Cuba, do as Obama was doing; Normalize relations. If ever you open a Communist economy to a free market, communism will collapse from within. Such as what happened in the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 80s and early 90s. If you provide the Cuban people with economic liberty, then the temptations of the possibility of immediate individual benefits from capitalism will be irresistible. Some Cubans of course, will regret this later on because there will be no going back to the security and community they once had.” My father continued on Obama; “Also, never before Obama were the Cuban people so enamored with the U.S., since his visitation to the island you began seeing Cubans wearing American flag shirts and waving American Flags, to this day during the pandemic many Cubans used “American flag masks” https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2016/04/cubans-react-to-president-obamas-visit/477177/
I asked my father if he thinks Biden will continue Obamas admirable work towards normalizations and eventually lift the Embargo. My father said “no, because he cannot do so without overriding the Helms-Burton Act and that requires the support of congress”. He is right. I then mention how frustrating it is to know that the overwhelming majority of Cuban protestors in Miami blocking the 826 right now, are not even aware of the embargo.
It is tragically ironic that Cuban Americans in Miami actually do hold the power to help the Cuban people, that is if they simply demanded their elected officials to support lifting the embargo. Instead, many are naively demanding U.S. military intervention (because they’ve never taken a basic International Relations course and let’s face it, obtained all their political knowledge from meme pages and Youtube clips) In fact, a small number of Miamians , god bless their fucking brave hearts, are recklessly and stupidly trying to pull of some humanitarian /armed mercenary type shit off the coast of Cuba that can easily turn into some 21st century Bay of Piglets. Meanwhile, all this is happening because conservative politicians and their predecessors before them ; (I’m talking the Rubio’s, De Santis’s, Scotts, Diaz Balart’s, Ross-Lehtinen;s, Salazar’s and other radicals like them) have hijacked the contemporary and historical political narrative of Cuba. They were elected and built long political careers largely by fanning the flames of Red Scare politics and to appease a once powerful political bloc that is historically composed of hardline Cuban-Exiles. These particular exiles, the Pedro Pans and their parents who fled to Miami immediately after the revolution are mostly from the hacendado / privileged land-owning upper classes of the Cuban Batista era. I believe it is a safe assumption to say that the primary motivation of the early and affluent exiles was the reinstatement of their material wealth and social privileges and not the democracy which the masses of pre and post-revolutionary Cuban people have been yearning for.
Opponents of lifting the embargo say that doing this will only bring financial benefit to the Diaz-Canel regime and the Cuban people will see none of it. This is highly unlikely since Cubans enjoyed better economic times when the Soviet Union supported them but to be fair, even if this were the tragic case, the Cuban Government would lose the crutch it has used for so long to justify the failures of their planned economy. The Cuban people do not support the embargo, because they know it hurts them. “El Bloqueo” is seen as the great imperialist genocidal evil in Cuba. The harsh economic consequences of the embargo are a significant part of the reason why many in Cuba believe the regime when it scapegoats the U.S. government as being the sole perpetrators of their economic suffering, because the Cuban government is actually half right about this. https://bellyofthebeastcuba.com/ .
Fortunately, Support for lifting the embargo has steadily grown in Miami and the U.S. after the younger more educated Cuban-Americans and newly arrived Cubans migrants recognize the harm and suffering that the U.S. embargo and Trump sanctions perpetuate. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/latino/support-u-s-embargo-cuba-increases-among-cuban-americans-miami-n957266 Even one Republican and Multi Millionaire Cuban Exile (who made his fortune after coming to America) Mike Fernandez opposes the Embargo. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/03/changing-their-minds-on-cuba/474612/ Another glimmer of hope nowadays is that the last name of the president of Cuba and the head of the Cuban Communist party is no longer “Castro”. Diaz-Canel, although a protege of the same party that was ruled by Fidel and Raul Castro, has shown a capacity for progressive ideas promoting civil rights for LGBTs and anti-discrimination laws throughout his career. It is worth to in the very least, prod the willingness of the Cuban governments leadership to reform by slowly yet deliberately beginning a process of normalization of relations.
Diplomacy in Cuba has worked. In 1979 former president Jimmy Carter was able to convince Fidel Castro to release approximately 3,000 political prisoners through diplomatic maneuvering in which he exchanged the freedom of the political prisoners for millions of dollars in medical aid. My father was one of those lucky 3,000. My father was poor, illiterate and had joined a counter revolutionary movement after first having supported the revolution as a teenager, convinced he would spend the rest of his life in jail after he was found guilty of “conspiring against the revolution” when his M.R.R. ( Movimiento Recuperacion Revolucionaria) cell was exposed and he was imprisoned indefinitely in 1961. My father’s life was saved by Jimmy Carter’s diplomacy. Just as the Cuban people can still be saved by American diplomacy. As I just mentioned, my father was not “un hacendado”, he learned to read in prison and is immensely passionate about politics. He has been in favor for normalization ever since he stepped foot on U.S. soil and as someone who legitimately paid the price of his freedom while fighting authoritarian communism, he is immune to Red Scare propaganda. He has never voted for a republican and supported Bernie Sanders in the U.S. democratic primary
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The social political discourse in the upcoming days will feel like a whirlwind of competing narratives, Republican reactionaries will try to place the spotlight on the supposed inherit evils of socialism, communism and Marxism endlessly using these trigger words in every possible combination in attempt to conflate them with authoritarianism and to discredit the progressive values of the contemporary American left. Tankies will blindly support the Cuban government on social media in order to feel validated while cognitively disowning the violation of human rights by the regime. The conservatives will then point to the Tankies and scream “look that’s the left” and both ends of the American political spectrum will become further entrenched in their eco chambers. The actual nuanced opinions will be the tiny majority. Billy Corbin will dunk relentlessly (and justifiably so) on the hypocrisy of the Cuban Republicans who are actively blocking major road ways in Miami after calling for BLM protestors to be ran over for doing the same thing last summer. Nothing will change for the Cuban people unless the Cubans in Miami change their approach.
If you truly support the Cuban people and you truly think Communism is a failure, prove it. Support the lifting of the embargo.