Open Cuba?

President Obama has supposedly opened the door to Cuba. I’m not sure exactly what he did, nor what it means. According to the Obama pronouncement, it is an ‘initiative’ that came after 18 months of secret negotiations, and will lead to the normalization of relations between our two countries.

For once, I agree with President Obama. Diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba should have been opened many years ago. It never made sense to me that we could open the trade door to such repressive regimes as communist China, North Vietnam, and Iran, while shunning an island nation only 90 miles from our border. There is nothing more threatening to communist dictators than open borders, and with the worldwide electronic revolution, the Castros would have been gone or at least neutralized many years ago.

With that said, let me disagree strongly with the way he did it. Obama consistently acts as if he were an imperial president. His entire time as president has been spent doing exactly what he wants, whenever he wants. Since 2008, a compliant Congress has allowed him to bypass the Constitution, and bend all legislative rules to have his way. Even many Democrats are now realizing they created a political monster, but it is too late to rein in the petulant ruler.

Once again, we have to be suspicious of the President’s motives, and wonder what he didn’t tell us: What was it that took 18 months of secret negotiations? Why did he have no consultation with Congress? What will we now be giving Cuba? What did America get in return? What about 60 years of human rights violations by the Castro brothers? And, by what Constitutional authority does he overrule an embargo enacted by Congress?

The older Cubans I have talked to are furious over the President’s action. They believe it will do nothing but give the Castro brothers more money to prop up their repressive regime. They are not so much against normalization of relations, as they are with not getting major human rights concessions first. They simply do not believe that normalization is possible as long as the Castro brothers are in charge.

The younger ones – particularly those born in America – are far more pragmatic, and can’t wait to openly visit Cuba. They believe there will be huge business opportunities for them, and look forward to re-establishing family ties. The damage to their Americanized family is one or two generations removed, and they reason that the Castro brothers are going to die very soon anyway.

As for me, I just don’t know. I have seen first hand the bitterness of Cuban refugees who had their homeland stolen by Fidel Castro. I learned to listen sympathetically, but be very careful about voicing my own opinion. Though part of my heritage is from Cuba, I was born here before the Castro Revolution, and am perceived as a North American who doesn’t fully understand.

Cuban Americans – especially those born in Cuba – may spit out the name Fidel, and denigrate him in the worst possible terms. However, Norte Americanos should be very careful in their criticism. There is a grudging admiration in most Cubans for Fidel. He has successfully defied the American giant for 60 years, and he is after all, of the same blood. You will know you went too far, when you hear, “He may be a communist, but he is a very smart man.”

So now we wait and see what happens next. The Republican Congress may feel a little braver with a million Cubans than they do with twenty million Central American Hispanics, and flex their majority muscle where they think it matters least.

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