In a recent interview with NBC News, Carmen Pelaez explains the deeply held political beliefs of Cuban-Americans on the issue of America’s relationship with Cuba.
Peleaz is a card carrying liberal who is no fan of conservative politicians, and she agrees with President Obama’s change in stance towards the Cuban government… but she also has a message for liberals – “Cuba is NOT a Communist Theme Park!” She wants liberals to stop pretending that Castro-era Cuba has been some kind of wonderful haven for the Old World. It’s been anything but…
“I just wanna go see Cuba before we ruin it”
Well, you should have planned your trip in 1958 because 56 years of a totalitarian dictatorship has a way of wearing on a country. When Fidel took over, he got everything. The life savings, businesses, homes and belongings of every Cuban citizen who decided to put their human rights ahead of material wealth. Where did it all go? With large swaths of Havana collapsing in on itself, a mortifying international sexual tourism that operates with impunity and an abysmal human rights record — what’s left to ruin?
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The follow-up to this comment is usually the arrogant, “I just want to go before there’s a Starbucks on every corner.” What’s so bad about Starbucks? Last I checked, they paid well and provided great benefits for their employees without infringing on anybody’s rights. You know what else Starbucks has? A working toilet and Wi-Fi, which is more than I can say for the majority of Cuban homes and institutions. Havana has been a functioning capital city for 500 years — it’ll survive a few coffee shops. Besides, the Cuban people don’t have the time to wait for you to gawk at their misery before “we ruin it.”
“Ooh, the cars, the cigars, the rum”
Take it easy Jay-Z. Put down the cigar, set the daiquiri aside and take that black beret off your head. You look ridiculous.
Sadly for Peleaz, it seems that while “softening” our stance toward Cuba may not be a terrible idea, Obama is probably not the man to lead the effort. As we’ve already seen in so many different foreign policy negotiations the President usually walks away from these deals holding the short (very short) end of the stick. The recent deal with Cuba is already starting to look no different than the other deals that have come before, as Mary Anastasia O’Grady points out in the Wall Street Journal…
But don’t expect any quid pro quo that requires a softening of the totalitarian machine. That much was made clear in the days following Mr. Obama’s speech.
Mr. Obama said that Cuba had pledged to release 53 prisoners of conscience in exchange for three Cubans serving lengthy sentences in the U.S. for espionage. This was supposed to be proof that Havana would behave more reasonably if only Washington would show more humility.
Snookered again. The spies were released but Havana did not keep its side of the bargain until pressure mounted weeks later, and not even then in any true sense. When the names of the prisoners finally were made public, the Havana-based Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation found that about a dozen of them had been released before the “swap” was even announced. Some had completed or were close to completing their sentences and were already scheduled for release.
I am one of those Cuban-American conservatives that makes Peleaz bristle (I know this because she can’t stand Marco Rubio and I am far to his right), and I have no confidence that this play to ease relations with Cuba will work. But I WANT it to. I desperately long for the day that we see an open and free Cuba where every member of society has the same opportunities that the closest allies of the Castro brothers enjoy. However, I fear that with President Obama at our helm, these moves to soften sanctions will only serve to strengthen the Communist hold on the land of my forefathers.
The obvious answer is that we need a change at the top. Perhaps a more wily negotiator with stronger convictions and a deeper sense of right and wrong could actually soften our stance with Cuba while helping to force change in the island nation? Much like President Nixon in China or President Reagan with the Soviet Union? Is there anyone like that on our horizon in 2016? That’s one of the things that I am waiting to see…
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com