GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BEN CARSON doesn't know anything about the U.S. government's "Wet foot/dry foot" policy.
Not surprising. He is not a Cuban, south Floridian, or denizen of New York City.
Before anyone discounts his candidacy as they did that of then Alaska governor Sarah Palin for her lack of foreign experience, the incumbent at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue had even less experience with foreign policy. At least Gov. Palin could see a foreign nation from her state. The Chicago community organizer couldn't even see Canada from the Windy City.
While this is about politics, it is not about politicians.
WHAT IS AMERICA'S PROBLEM WITH CUBA?
There are, basically, three "official" problems with Cuba; reasons why Washington and south Florida politicians want to maintain the status quo.
- Problem 1: Cuba's government barely tolerates dissent.
Problem 2: Cuba's government is one of several Communist/Socialist governments in the Western Hemisphere.
Problem 3: Cuba lacks a U.S.-style democracy.
The United States has diplomatic and trade agreements with China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and a number of other countries that stifle civil rights.
China, through its proxies North Korea and Vietnam, has been involved in shooting wars with the U.S. and still threatens U.S. allies South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. Chinese ICBMs and ship-born (sea-to-land) missiles easily can strike cities on the U.S. mainland. China over the years has greatly increased its naval presence on, and beneath, the waves. Now Chinese warships are welcomed at U.S. ports.
Russia, now in expansionist mode, has been involved with the U.S. in the so-called "cold" war for decades. Like China, Russia has the capability of sending missiles into American cities.
Saudi Arabia, which never has been in a shooting war with the U.S. does expect the U.S. to send troops to die protecting it while at the same time being one of the least tolerant nations of the world. The Saudis - under a harsh variation of the already harsh sharia law - execute women by stoning for the crime of being raped; it lops off heads of people who dare criticize the prophet (as do other Islamic nations).
Despite the above, the U.S. "enjoys" diplomatic and trade relations with all three of the above - and many more nations where civil rights are severely restricted or non-existent.
- The Amnesty International Report 2014/15: The State Of The World's Human Rights provides civil rights overviews for the world's nations.
But Cuba? While the U.S. has several times invaded Cuba, Cuba never has invaded the U.S. - at least not as a military operation. True, the Russians, back when the Soviet Union existed, wanted to put ICBMs on Cuban soil and Fidel Castro was willing to accept the weaponry - in return for which the Soviets guaranteed to buy sugar and tobacco from Cuba to keep the Cuban economy from absolute collapse having Cuban products embargoed by the U.S.
Unlike China and Russia, Cuba is the U.S.' neighbor, famously 90 miles away from Key West.
It does allow some dissent, the Women in White as an example.
It seems to this scrivener that the best way to improve the lot of the average Cuban is to develop trade with the island; to export the flavor of U.S. style democracy (while realizing that not every nation can handle democracy as it is, or perhaps was, known in the U.S.).
It was Trinidad, not Cuba, but the bottom line of Rum and Coca-Cola was the "Yankee dollar." It may not have the power it once had, but it's still more welcome than the Russian ruble or even the Chinese yuan.