I am sitting on the deck of a ship sailing alongside Cuba on Christmas, about to dock in Havana, the capital city. It will be my first time in Cuba, but I am sure it will not be the last.
As we sat in a class about the dos and don’ts that we must be aware of when going into town, it became evident that our government imposed these restrictions on Americans. It wasn’t the Cuban government. It is clear that Cuba imposes many restrictions on its population. We expect that from a communist regime. How then does our democracy differ if it is crippling the freedom of its own citizen’s behavior and actions overseas?
I do not know what to expect but have been told and have seen on TV a Cuba that we froze helped freeze Cuba in time partially because of U.S. policies. Why? Because the American government decided that it was not going to allow the will of another people to be in conflict with America’s will for them. In short, America can accept a perceived tyrant as long as it is their tyrant. That isn’t to say I believe Fidel Castro is a tyrant. I think he is like most autocratic or want-to-be autocratic leaders who do what is necessary to stay in power. Every leader, whether from democratic or authoritarian regimes, has always found some justification however misguided to kill an inordinate number of human beings to maintain their rule.
I recently wrote a piece titled “Why I do not hate Cuba and no person of color should nor their white allies should” where I said the following.
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. …
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.
Cuba has endured and continues to suffer over 50+ years of a spiteful vendetta. Even with incoming economic missiles, Cuba generated an impressive cadre of medical doctors and engineers that they have loaned and exported throughout the world. It speaks well of the resilience of humanity which itself is an American trait.
Merry Christmas Cuba.