It is important to restate what now divides Cuba from my country and from the other countries of this hemisphere. It is the fact that a small band of conspirators has stripped the Cuban people of their freedom and handed over the independence and sovereignty of the Cuban nation to forces beyond the hemisphere. They have made Cuba a victim of foreign imperialism, an instrument of the policy of others, a weapon in an effort dictated by external powers to subvert the other American Republics. This, and this alone, divides us. As long as this is true, nothing is possible. Without it, everything is possible. Once this barrier is removed, we will be ready and anxious to work with the Cuban people in pursuit of those progressive goals which a few short years ago stirred their hopes and the sympathy of many people throughout the hemisphere.
The primary focus of Jack Kennedy’s speech to the Inter-American Press Association in Miami was on the Alliance for Progress, which was his administration’s attempt to spread New Frontier values to Latin America. Despite the tough guy rhetoric before the olive branch/signal to Fidel Castro, this was fundamentally a progressive, not a Cold War, speech. Unfortunately, JFK was murdered five days later, the Cold War ended in 1989, the Soviet Union went out of business in 1991, but our estrangement from Cuba persisted until President Obama landed in Havana on Palm Sunday.
I grew up during the Cold War but always hoped that our ties with Cuba would resume after the collapse of the Soviet Empire. I just didn’t think it would take this long. On reflection, it’s no surprise: the only Americans who care *passionately* about Cuba are the emigree community in South Florida. As time has passed, more and more Cuban-Americans support an opening to the proverbial old country. They want to legally send money and other forms of help to their relatives in Cuba instead of doing it under the table. There are still anti-Castro dead-enders but they, and Congressional Republicans, should remember that engagement between the United States and Soviet Union helped end the Cold War.
One thing that tickles me about President Obama’s Cuban sojourn is the use of beisbol diplomacy. Love of baseball is something that unites the two countries. I, for one, would love to see a flood of Cuban ballplayers to the Major Leagues without resort to defection or other anachronistic measures. I only hope that we set up the same sort of equitable arrangement with Cuba that we have with Japan on player importation. I suspect the Cubans will insist. I look forward to the opening, and hope that some of the players will be as good as these two Cuban stars who should be in the Hall of Fame:
The Miami dead-enders and their Republican allies are having fits about President Obama’s trip, especially a picture of him with a Che Guevara mural in the distance. As if past American Presidents haven’t posed with real Commies, as Media Matters pointed out in this amusing meme thingamabob:
Finally, I’m proud of President Obama for changing our anachronistic polices toward Cuba. Fifty years of economic sanctions have not worked and it’s time for a new approach; one that *does* include “frank and candid” discussions about human rights and political prisoners. It’s a new day.
Viva Kennedy. Viva Obama. Viva Cuba. Viva Mambo Cubano:
Everything *is* possible.