Don’t dismiss history in U.S.-Cuba relations
John O’Neill 12:07 a.m. EST January 14, 2015
In justifying the re-establishment of U.S. relations with Cuba,
President Barack Obama noted that the isolation of Cuba is based on
events which occurred before most of us were born. This is a transparent
argument. Jim Crow also predates when most of us were born. But that
hardly annuls the need for affirmative action.
Even more transparent is the argument that the U.S. already deals with
other tyrants and might as well add the Castros, Fidel and Raul, to the
list. This argument overlooks the fact that the Castro brothers came to
power in Cuba in 1959 largely with U.S. assistance. It wasn’t until
after they had come to power that the Castros declared themselves
communists and cast Cuba into the Soviet orbit.
It is essential to remember that the Castro brothers in their
revolutionary years led the 26th of July Movement (so named for a
skirmish with Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista on July 26, 1953). The
26th of July Movement was proclaimed by the Castro brothers to be an
alternative to a communist takeover in the face of Batista’s inevitable
fall. The Castros procured CIA funding before coming to power and were
assisted by President Dwight Eisenhower, who withdrew support from Batista.
In other words, the Castros double-crossed America. This prompted
Eisenhower to break relations with Cuba in 1960 and prompted President
John F. Kennedy the following year to impose an embargo on trade with Cuba.
This was not the first and only time the U.S. was double-crossed in such
fashion. The U.S. had also accommodated earlier in the 1950s a
democratic socialist revolution in Indonesia, which declared itself
communist after coming to power. The difference: Indonesia was not 90
miles off the U.S. coast.
There are those who support relations with Cuba and lifting the embargo
on humanitarian grounds. Wanting it both ways, these voices insist the
embargo hasn’t worked, while blaming the embargo for all of Cuba’s ills.
But Cuba enjoys trade with Canada and Europe. Those very trade relations
are what has sustained the Castro brothers to survive the collapse of
the Soviet Union in 1991. It’s an ironic twist that communist Cuba
proves, by its relations with Canada and Europe, that democratic
capitalism is a superior system to the communist apparatus, as Cuba has
benefited more from Canada and Europe than it had ever benefited from
the long-defunct Soviet Union.
Cuba remains an impoverished communist experiment, not because of the
U.S. embargo, but because of the Castro brothers themselves. The embargo
is a matter of principle (as opposed to a matter of strategy). If the
Cuban people are to find relief from the U.S. embargo, they should
themselves be expected to depose Fidel and Raul Castro.
John O’Neill is an Allen Park freelance writer.
Source: O’Neill: U.S.-Cuba history still matters –