OBAMA OPENS RELATIONS with the Castros of Cuba and the Cubans in America aren't happy.
Some politicians, notably Miami-raised U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, are making this Obama move a major part of their appeal - at least to the Cubans in South Florida.
Liberal folly to re-establish diplomatic relations with a "Communist" country only 90 miles from Key West, Florida, America's southernmost point?
Or good sense following in a Conservative politician's lead?
U.S. President Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to the People's Republic of China was an important step in formally normalizing relations between the United States (U.S.) and the People's (PRC). It marked the first time a U.S. president had visited the PRC, which at that time considered the U.S. one of its foes, and the visit ended 25 years of separation between the two sides. (Wikipedia: 1972 Nixon visit to China)
The distance between Anchorage Alaska and China is less than 700 miles, a mere 510 miles FARTHER than the distance between Key West and Cuba.
The arch-Conservative Nixon achieved peace with radical Communist China DESPITE China's involvement in the Korean "Policing" action - a condition that remains unresolved to today and one that keeps U.S. troops far from home, protecting a people that, during the fighting, were less than dependable allies.
Arch-Conservative Nixon also signed the peace agreement with the China-leaning Communist government of Vietnam, a country that a Liberal Democrat, JFK, thoroughly embroiled this nation while ignoring the ignoble expulsion of the French early in the century. (Dwight D. Eisenhower got the U.S. involved militarily with small Military Advisory Groups [MAGs]; JFK committed thousands of U.S. troops, largely in piecemeal increments.)
Nixon, of course, was the arch-villain of the liberals who now are open to détente and full diplomatic relations with the U.S.' nearby neighbor to the south while those claiming to be Conservatives rail against the compact.
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, Cuban loyalty began to change as a result of Creole rivalry with Spaniards for the governing of the island, increased Spanish despotism and taxation, and the growth of Cuban nationalism. These developments combined to produce a prolonged and bloody war, the Ten Years’ War against Spain (1868–78), but it failed to win independence for Cuba. At the outset of the second independence war (1895–98), Cuban independence leader José Martí was killed. As a result of increasingly strained relations between Spain and the United States, the Americans entered the conflict in 1898 during the administration of President William McKinley. Already concerned about its economic interests on the island and its strategic interest in a future Panama Canal, the United States was aroused by an alarmist “yellow” press after the USS Maine sank in Havana Harbor on February 15 as the result of an explosion of undetermined origin. In December 1898, with the Treaty of Paris, the United States emerged as the victorious power in the Spanish-American War, thereby ensuring the expulsion of Spain and U.S. tutelage over Cuban affairs.
On May 20, 1902, after almost five years of U.S. military occupation, Cuba launched into nationhood with fewer problems than most Latin American nations. Prosperity increased during the early years. Militarism seemed curtailed. Social tensions were not profound. Yet corruption, violence, and political irresponsibility grew. Invoking the 1901 Platt Amendment, which was named after Senator Orville H. Platt and stipulated the right of the United States to intervene in Cuba’s internal affairs and to lease an area for a naval base in Cuba, the United States intervened militarily in Cuba in 1906–9, 1917, and 1921. U.S. economic involvement also weakened the growth of Cuba as a nation and made the island more dependent on its northern neighbor.
The 1930s saw a major attempt at revolution. Prompted by the cruel dictatorship of Gerardo Machado y Morales (president, 1925–33), the economic hardships of the world depression, and the growing control of their economy by Spaniards and North Americans, a group of Cubans led by students and intellectuals sought radical reforms and a profound transformation of Cuban society. Following several small army revolts, Machado was forced to resign and flee the country on August 12, 1933. Sergeant Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar, unhappy with proposed reductions of pay and restrictions of promotions, joined forces with the militant students on September 4 and overthrew the U.S.-backed regime of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes (the younger). By making the military part of the government and allowing Batista to emerge as self-appointed chief of the armed forces, the Sergeants’ Revolt marked a turning point in Cuba’s history. On January 14, 1934, Army Chief Batista also brought to an end the short-lived provisional presidency of Ramón Grau San Martín (president, 1933–34) by forcing him to resign. Although the reformers attained power five months later and Machado’s overthrow was supposed to mark the beginning of an era of reform, their revolution failed. Batista (president, 1940–44; dictator, 1952–59) and the military emerged as the arbiters of Cuba’s politics, first through de facto ruling and finally with the election of Batista to the presidency in 1940.
An aside: Cuba had agreed to accept Jews escaping from the nazis on the SS St. Louis, but on arrival in Cuba the Jews were prevented from disembarking, despite the fact they had visas. Dr. Federico Laredo Brú was Cuba's president when the SS St. Louis attempted to land in 1939, Visas to land in Cuba were issued by Manuel Benite, sans Bru's authority, which, in part, led to the refugee's being refused entry. The Jews also were denied permission to disembark at the U.S. port, condemning them to death at the hands of the Germans.
The end of the early Batista era during World War II was followed by an era of democratic government, respect for human rights, and accelerated prosperity under the inheritors of the 1933 revolution—Grau San Martín (president, 1944–48) and Carlos Prío Socarrás (president, 1948–52). Yet political violence and corruption increased. Many saw these administrations of the Cuban Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Cubano—PRC), more commonly known as the Authentic Party (Partido Auténtico), as having failed to live up to the ideals of the revolution. Others still supported the Auténticos and hoped for new leadership that could correct the vices of the past. A few conspired to take power by force.
Batista’s coup d’état on March 10, 1952, had a profound effect on Cuban society, leading to doubts about the ability of the Cubans to govern themselves. It also began a brutal right-wing dictatorship that resulted in the polarization of society, civil war, the overthrow of Batista, and the destruction of the military and most other Cuban institutions. Fidel Castro Ruz, a charismatic, anti-U.S. revolutionary, seized power on January 1, 1959, following his successful revolt against the U.S.-backed Batista government. As the Castro regime expropriated U.S. properties and investments and began, officially, on April 16, 1961, to convert Cuba into a one-party communist system, relations between the United States and Cuba deteriorated rapidly. The United States imposed an embargo on Cuba on October 19,1960, and broke diplomatic relations on January 3, 1961, in response to Castro’s expropriations without compensation and other provocations, such as arrests of U.S. citizens. The failure of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)–sponsored invasion by Cuban exiles in April 1961 (the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion) allowed the Castro regime to destroy the entire Cuban underground and to emerge strengthened and consolidated, basking in the huge propaganda value of having defeated the “Yankees.”
THERE WAS A TIME when the U.S. was a major economic force in Cuba, being the primary purchaser of sugar and tobacco products. (JFK, according to the UK's Daily Mail had a cache of Cuban cigars laid in just before he declared an embargo on the items.)
Ernest Hemingway and U.S. gangsters spent time in Cuba as did the average American who wanted to visit an affordable - and warm - foreign land.
Having grown up in South Florida listening to many ex-pat Cubans claim that if they could they would go back, it will be interesting to see just how many of the Cuban community in South Florida will indeed go back. Will English once again become Miami's first language?
Whether the Cuban guests return to their island or not, the 50-year snub of a neighbor that, of itself, never threatened the U.S. , should have ended when Nixon made a pact with China's Cho, or at least when Nixon brought the Vietnam conflict to an end.
Enough is enough, and 50 years is too much.
I am not a fan of Obama, but this time he got it right.