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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What to Watch: Barack Obama on Cuba


Here's the latest on Barack Obama and Cuba.

Reuters reports that ailing 81 year old leader of Cuba, Fidel Castro, wrote in Granma, Cuba's government-controlled newspaper, that Barack Obama is the strongest of the U.S. presidential candidates. Still, he was critical of Obama's speech at the Cuban American National Foundation in Miami last week, where he said he would maintain the 50 year old embargo. Nonetheless, right-wing Republicans are going to use Castro's statement about Obama as the strongest candidate as just more proof that Obama is too much of a leftist to be a U.S. president. Okay, Fox News watchers, is he still a secret Muslim too? And don't you think it's a stretch to say that, because a leader says a particular candidate is the strongest in the field, that means he supports that candidate?

But to be fair, Castro didn't say he was against Obama either. Perhaps that's because Obama said he would relax restrictions on Cuba, such as restriction on travel, medicine and money being sent by Cuban Americans to their families back home. Obama also said he would talk to Cuban leaders, something previous U.S. presidents have refused to do. Castro said of Obama:

" I feel no resentment towards him, for he is not responsible for the crimes perpetrated against Cuba and humanity."

Meanwhile, Eugene Robinson, Washington Post editor and MSNBC commentator, wrote a scathing article at Truthdig on the 50 year old U.S. embargo on Cuba. He called it a "stupid" policy. Okay, Eugene, so how do you really feel about the U.S. embargo on Cuba, and what else could it be called?

"I
t could also be called childish, irresponsible and counterproductive — and, since the demise of the Soviet Union, even insane. Absent the threat of communist expansionism, the refusal by successive American presidents to engage with Cuba has not even a fig leaf’s worth of rationale to cover its naked illogic. Other than providing Fidel Castro with a convenient antagonist to help him whip up nationalist fervor on the island — and thus prolong his rule — the U.S. trade embargo and other sanctions have accomplished precisely nothing."

Okay, Barack, you say you are for "change people can believe in." Cool. Now, easing restrictions on travel and sending money would mean a lot to Cuban Americans and their families. But wouldn't getting rid of the embargo be an even greater change for everyone concerned? Wouldn't it take away the Castro regime's use of the U.S. as an excuse for not changing its bad economic policies decades ago? And wouldn't it open up fully a new a outlet for U.S. businesses, especially agriculture, autos and technology?

Look, the daddy knows you have to play politics with Cuban Americans who still haven't gotten over the fact that their land, homes and positions with the dictatorial Batista regime, but can't you take a new look at the embargo policy? With a new guy, Raul, in charge, don't you think the time is ripe? Sure, Raul is Castro's brother and is almost as old as he, but he has already begun discussing some changes (however small) in a short period of time, such as allowing cell phones, automobile purchases and private businesses.

Barack, getting rid of the U.S. embargo on Cuba would be a change the daddy could believe in. Why? It's a stupid policy. Just ask Eugene.

8 comments:

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

An retired journalist friend explained the Cuban situation to me long ago. Cuba used to be a gambling and prostitution mecca for white Americans with a little money who wanted a weekend trip doing whatever they pleased with the natives. The people were colonized and oppressed by Americans, and racism was the norm.

Castro took over and changed all this. Many white and white-looking Cubans fled the island because they lost their privileged place in this color-caste society. Castro went on to make racism as well as sexism a crime. He redirected the few resources the country had to education, and as a result, Cuba has graduated more black doctors than any nation on earth.

Cuba was punished with embargoes, making it nearly impossible for it to escape the griding poverty. Their businesses couldn't order car parts or pencils or even toilet paper from businesses only 90 miles away, and instead depended on countries hundreds or thousands of miles away. The cost of transporting what they've needed has been crippling.

The virulently racist Congressmen and leaders, particularly the GOP, has done everything they could to see Cuba fail, and until these old racist dinosaurs die out, will continue to do so.

Obama knows this, thus he treads lightly. He's already been attacked for wanting to make teeny-tiny changes. Imagine how the conservative press would respond if he announced sweeping changes when he gets into office? Thus he baby-steps the American people into small changes. He makes so many compromises that one could get angry with him, but I don't. He's biding his time, knowing that the world is a changin'. Thank God.

MacDaddy said...

Kit: Thanks for your comments. Yes, I'm aware of what Cuba was, especially under the Batista, a playpen for well-to-do white Americans. But it certainly doesn't hurt for all of us to hear again.

And don't tell anybody, but I think you're right when you say Obama has to compromise and step softly on this issue. But speaking of this from an organizational point of view, I think an Obama administration can be helped by progressives who push his administration about this and other issues. Don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't think he wants to make the changes. It's more like Americans are, well, so conservative.

It's anybody's guess but INow, we can set back and watch him compromise or try to push him and administration do the right thing. And, frankly, I don't think much is going to change from above unless there is a push from progressives below.

Hey, I love your blog, got you linked and will be checking in from time to time. Be well.

MacDaddy said...

kit: Cuba was also a hangout and hideout for the Mafia. Did the journalist say anything about that?

James Tubman said...

let's see what he does when he gets into office

MacDaddy said...

Thanks, James.

Anonymous said...

Interesting factoids re cuban-american voters - there are almost as many in NJ as FL. TWO important states for the dems.

Also re Gore FL election recount - Raoul G. Cantero, III, born in Spain, naturalized in the US, a graduate of Harvard Law School, a Justice on the Florida Supreme Court, is the grandson of Fulgencio Batista!

MacDaddy said...

Anon: Very interesting. Thanks.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

I agree with Eugene (always a voice of logic and reason). The Cuban policy has ALWAYS been insane. They are a quick boat ride off our southern shore. We need to treat them like brothers and sisters, not mortal enemies.

Just how big of a threat is Cuba to the United States? Our military could wipe them off the map with conventional weapons in two hours.

It's all nutzoid political bs pandering to a colony of Cuban expats in Miami. How is it that the emotional needs of a few trump the human physical needs of millions, including the majority of the citizens of the United States?

Hope all is well Mac.