Many people look at Cuba through a communist vs. democratic lens. I see it through a racial lens purposefully. You know, if a democratic state is ostensibly oppressing one, then what good is a democracy? Cuba was never a democracy for the vast majority of its citizens and specifically people of color.
I am sure though he could not say it as President of the United States, Barack Obama likely felt precisely the way I did about Cuba and acted accordingly within the confines of U.S. law. Americans are programmed to hate Cuba given the stories of many Cubans who were hurt by the Castro regime.
America's policy towards Cuba was vindictive and likely did more harm to Cuba than anything the Castro regime's brutality for those who opposed the revolution could. I am not going to get into complete historical detail here because all the information is readily available in online encyclopedias. I merely want to give the proper narrative.
I get tired of our government, most recently Donald Trump, acting as if the dictatorship in Cuba is any different than the dictatorships America supports throughout the world. In fact, Fulgencio Batista, the dictator overthrown by Castro's revolution, was no less vicious to those who opposed him and his policies that created massive wealth and income disparities. Of course, these variations followed the American color line modal as well. In other words, people of color in the aggregate were much less well off. They were either relegated to entertainment or menial jobs. Lest we forget, Fulgencio Batista was America's dictator and as such his criminality and his vicious attacks on his people got a pass.
For those who continue to use the Castro regime's oppression, incarceration, and downright violence against the opposition, one must note that many in the United States have felt that oppression for centuries right here in this "democracy." Our history and our present should dictate a level of humbleness lest we lose our ability to criticize credibly.
One must remember that Castro did not want to have a negative relationship with the U.S. Because he overthrew an American puppet that maintained a vicious form of capitalism, he was shunned by Washington, specifically President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Castro was intent on nationalizing all the ill-gotten land by the plutocracy.
Cuba's partnership with Russia was logical. Knowing that the United States, a superpower would likely lay waste to his government in the long run, what else could he have done?
The Cold War had no concern for the socio-economic-racial angst in Cuba or elsewhere. But here are some results rarely discussed. Under Cuba post-Batista, people of color while previously relegated to menial jobs became doctors, lawyers, engineers, and other professionals that were exported throughout the world. When a democracy and economic system consign a particular segment of its population to a life of less than, one should not be surprised when they seek an alternative. That alternative was better for many Cubans. It gave them a dignity they never had. And in the process, it created a healthcare system that covers every Cuban who all now have better medical outcomes than those in America.
Also published on Medium.