Castro, Trump and Cuba from Two Shores

Lynn Cruz

Spanish General Valeriano Weyler

HAVANA TIMES – The human race forgets things very quickly and it seems to have forgotten that just over a century ago, Spanish General Valeriano Weyler was the protagonist of one of the darkest moments in Cuban history, which became known as Weyler’s Reconcentration Policy.

Cuban historian Carlos M. Trelles y Govin says that at least 300,000 Cubans died as a result. It was a very cruel policy, the objective of which was to wipe out the 1895 independence movement by military means.

Cubans have been flooding their social media profiles with pictures of long lines to buy food, for months now. This is because they are a sign of a new Special Period, which is the precursor to a new economic crisis, and the result of the crisis our Venezuelan brothers and sisters are suffering, with Nicolas Maduro insisting on holding the reigns of power, in spite of mass protests.

When you reach rock bottom, like Venezuela has, analyzing how they got there is inevitable. The “Cuban Revolution’s” influence on Latin America is no secret. So, after Cuba’s revolutionary leader passed away, what remains of the experience transmitted by the Cuban government?

With the Cuban Adjustment Act, the US began to accept everyone who was against Fidel Castro’s totalitarianism. It was an escape which has become a Sword of Damocles for the Cuban people. Trapped in the middle of a conflict of powers, between politicians who answered to Florida’s middle and upper classes on the one hand, and the Cuban government on the other.

As soon as a Cuban stepped foot on US soil, they would receive “refugee” status, a word that began to shape emigre’s psyches. It’s not a matter of them denying emigre’s political reasons for leaving, but given the fact that this is just one side of the coin, it reduces the conflict, simplifies it, bearing in mind that Cubans were also emigrating under “normal circumstances”, and we shouldn’t lose sight of Cuba being an underdeveloped country without resources.

Miami is a city where resentment mixes with nostalgia. There is even a Little Havana. The idea was to forget the past and build a small Cuba on US soil. But, Cuba is a mental state, which gets worse with every tragedy. Of course, there was no going back for the Cubans who stood up to the system and had to flee.

However, Cuban reality is changing in spite of its totalitarian government; yet, the media in Florida continue to say that Castrismo is still the same. Personally-speaking, I believe that it has betrayed the ideas of social justice which the Cuban people have held out for, they stopped being socialists, they introduced a low-budget style of capitalism and they returned to the bourgeois dish of ropa vieja.

Something that has caught my attention whenever I travel to Miami is that you can’t say anything good about this system of government, and when people can’t argue something, it’s more fanaticism than anything else.

In Cuba, Cubans were molded to be against US Imperialism, and in Miami, they were molded to be against Castrismo. Everything is black or white.  Both powers seek domination, on the other side of the Florida Strait and on these shores too. We could even deduce that there is a certain level of likeliness, bearing in mind the fact that Donald Trump is a populist president, just a right-wing populist.

Right now, Trump is planning to stifle the island by economic means, and he is being egged on by Florida’s Republican senators. Photos of Venezuela are enough for us to understand what the immediate future will be like for everyone who, like me, lives in Cuba. Cuban opposition forces abroad want to pressure the Cuban people to take to the streets, and they need their inside allies for this, who of course stand by this apocalyptic discourse so they can receive a few pennies from this other power which is also a parasite and bleeds the Cuban people dry.

There is something that we call “war of all Cubans” in Cuba, which would mean that if we end up in an extreme situation, the Government will put everyone in uniform so that they can be at the forefront of the battle.

In sixty whole years, Barack Obama was the only person to say something different, who actually hit the nail on the head: “Six decades of trying to isolate Cuba has failed to bring change to the island.” The rapprochement process he began seemed to be the best alternative to bringing about a peaceful transition of power on the island.

There’s something that seems suspicious to me in terms of Florida’s policy, and it’s because most Cubans, intellectuals or otherwise, automatically become Republicans as soon as they reach the US. They don’t want to know anything about the Democrats. They don’t want to complicate the discourse.

There’s something very perverse in all of this, and it has to do with the media. Anti-Castrista propaganda is never-ending because hate is an easy thing to do. It’s clear that two wrongs make a right, like the popular saying we have goes. This is why I will end by saying that nothing resembles a Castro supporter more than an anti-Castro supporter.

Lynn Cruz

It's not art that imitates life, its life that imitates art," said Oscar Wilde. And art always goes a step further. I am an actress and writer. For me, art, especially writing, is a way of exorcising demons. It is something intimate. However, I decided to write journalism because I realized that I did not exist. In Cuba, only the people authorized by the government have the right to express themselves publicly. Havana Times is an example of coexistence within a democracy and since I consider myself a democrat, my dream is to integrate this publication’s philosophy into the reality of my country.

31 thoughts on “Castro, Trump and Cuba from Two Shores

  • Lynn, you have said it succinctly above and I have been accused of being loquacious on occasions but this is not going to be one of them! Your article and the subsequent intelligent discourse, which I have read through carefully, is like a breathe of fresh air when compared with the usual mindless and abusive twittering on you know what. Please keep it up so that there is hope for the future and my three grandchildren.

  • I got the feeling that talk about political systems won’t matter much in the near future given the run away freight train effects of the global climate change. Limiting Planet Earth warming to 1.5 celcius in the next 11 years, according to the most recent scientific reports I doubt will be accomplished. So I for one plan to travel with light baggage.

  • Thanks ifor your comments is a big compromises for me .

  • Lucky guy, although having visited Calgary myself more than once, I envy you your recent visit.

  • Why Sandra do you credit Canadian social systems and programs with being “very socialist” when they have all – without exception – been introduced by Liberal and Conservative governments? Socialists do not have a monopoly of concern for the citizenry, indeed if you study the history of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic and that of the Castro regime, a fair claim can be made that the reverse is more accurate. Before you respond by talking of the educational and medical programs in Cuba, think of their old age pension of 200 pesos ($8 US) per month and compare that with Canada!

  • Hector, I saw and heard Obama give his speech at the Alicia Alonso Theatre on March 21, 2016 with both Raul Castro and Miguel Diaz-Canel present. Fidel Castro repudiated Obama’s initiative in a letter published in Granma and read in full both on Mesa Redondo and the national TV news on March 28. On March 29, Bruno Rodriguez as Foreign Minister confirmed that “there will be no reciprocation.” I agree with you that the Obama policy was not given enough time, as the Castro regime rather than “slow” to react, acted almost immediately. That is unless you take the view of a former Labour Prime Minister in the UK (Harold Wilson) that “A week is a long time in politics”.

  • The “socialist programs” to which you refer Sandra have all – without any exception, been introduced in Canada by Liberal and Conservative Governments. There is a tendency to confuse social programs with socialism.

    social: of or relating to society or its organization

    socialism: a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole

    Both the above are definitions given in the Oxford English Dictionary, but it is noteworthy that that massive tome of over 2,000 pages, devotes more than a whole page to words commencing ‘socia’ commencing with sociable and ending with sociopath and socio-political.

    As you say correctly, you live in the freedom of Canada with a multitude of social programs not one of which has been introduced by socialists (I am well aware of Tommy Douglas’s campaign for a social medical program).

    Communism in practice has quite a wide spectrum of behavior. From that based upon the Stalinist interpretation, to that of Mao Ze Dong. The Castro’s pursue the former and Che Guevara favoured the latter despite the disaster of the “Great Leap Forward” and the “Little Red Book”.

    The Castro regime is currently endeavoring to change its image without changing its totalitarian practices. It is doing so by replacing the words communist and communism with socialist and socialism hoping to confuse those innocents in the outside free capitalist societies that it’s “socialism” is democratic. Raul Castro – the author of the “new” constitution has never lacked cunning.

  • I was on Mull recently. Calgary is on the road from Tobermory to the departure point of the ferry to Ulva where one can find the derelict stone cottage of David Livingstone’s grandparents.
    Mull is indeed a place of beauty and as you say, relatively unaffected by the kind of issues debated on this forum.

  • The founder of Rebel Media is Ezra Levant. Guess where he comes from? No, not as you question Quebec……………Calgary, Alberta! I have no idea how it was that Calgary got such a bunch of misfits together. But as you live in the UK, you could take a trip to the original Calgary which is on the Isle of Mull. From Glasgow Airport hire a car, turn immediately north on leaving the airport, cross the Erskine bridge then travel half way up Loch Lomand before turning left up the hill known as Rest and Be Thankful, then on to Loch Fyne, and over the hills to Oban. There you can (with car) take a McBrayne ferry over to Mull. On landing drive north to lovely Tobermory, where you turn left across the island to Calgary with its beautiful white sand beach. There are only seven houses, including the Calgary Farm House and Calgary House. Wonderfully peaceful unaffected by the political world – if only the same could be said of Calgary Alberta!

  • Thank you Mr MacD for your extensive reply to my query regarding the far-right minority in Canada.
    It is interesting that you mention Alberta Province. I believe the infamous ‘Rebel Media’ network originated in Quebec ?
    It is a big enough player to sponsor and platform far right activists in the UK.
    I am hugely fond of Canada, particularly Quebec, having spent some cherished formative years there.
    I could only ever possibly imagine that this minority will forever remain a minority.

  • I trust you understand Manuel that Cubans cannot access such books. Even Boris Pasternak’s books are banned. My wife who has a Master’s degree had never even heard of Dr, Zhivago one of the 20th century classics and neither had a colleague (holding a Doctorate in Education) teaching English in a pre-university school. For sixty years the Castro regime has endeavored not only to control the lives of Cubans, but to control their minds by limiting information that in any way may be contrary to Marxism.

  • You are correct Nick in saying that “there are certain very right wing exponents in Canada” and their initiatives appear to emanate initially from the University of Calgary, Alberta. But they have remained democratic and have never suggested otherwise. Preston Manning concocted the national Reform Party from Calgary and by so doing, split the vote on the right putting Liberal Jean Chretian (who mysteriously was able to purchase an hotel and golf course – and collected signed golf balls) into power for thirteen years. Then the Reform Party rejoined with the Conservatives who then won the next three elections. In Alberta the Progressive Conservatives were in power for forty four years during which the province thrived and trebled its population. So, another Party started from the Calgary base yet again, called the Wild Rose Party (the wild rose is the provincial flower). So the Progressive Conservatives lost the next election to the New Democratic Party (socialist). The NDP then (as socialists always do) spent money like water, creating a huge debt. The Wild Rose Party then rejoined the Conservatives who then won the next election. Hope that clarifies.
    One of the difficulties of each of the traditional three political parties in the Parliamentary democracies is that each comprises a spectrum of views as being demonstrated currently in the UK. The Conservatives are in confusion and the Socialists (forget New Labour) are dividing as Corbyn endeavors to load their system with the far left and the moderates are departing.
    I have to agree (with relief) that Canada would never elect a narcissistic bully like Trump(f). But that is largely a consequence of retaining the parliamentary system and the strict limitation in Canada of political donations. Companies cannot donate any more money than an individual ($1,200 per year). So, if a person has donated that sum to a party of choice, and then there is a hot dinner fund raiser which they attend, the portion of the ticket that is a political contribution has to be returned to the donor.
    It is interesting to record that like European countries commencing with the UK, Canada has an excellent national health system, but has never had an NDP (socialist) government, demonstrating that recognition of a good idea is sensible – no matter where it originated. (Dear old William Beveridge).
    In discussions with Cubans who have been persuaded by the Castro regime that somehow Cuba is unique with free education and medical services, I have found on numerous occasions surprise upon learning that other countries including most of Europe and the former British dominions (including Canada) have free medical services and education to age 18 – and that the UK NHS was introduced some 13 years prior to Cuba doing so. That of course is a consequence of the communist purpose of keeping people in ignorance by censorship and total control of information sources.
    One other interesting thing about Trump(f). When NAFTA was negotiated, the Canadian Minister responsible was Peter Wilson of the Mulroney Conservative Government. The US was represented by Carla Hills of the Bush Republican Government. Bill Clinton’s Democratic Government was then elected and in consequence it was he who signed it into law – but had no part in its negotiation. But Trump(f) when describing NAFTA as “The worst deal in history” held Clinton not Bush responsible. I can also tell you that as a pre-requisite of negotiation, Carla Hills demanded that mobility of employment between the three countries not be discussed. She obtained the required guarantee from Mexico first, then demanded that Canada agree also. There was a proposal in Canada that there ought to be mobility of employment controlled by green cards. The reason that the Republican administration made its demand was that it sought to use cheap labour in Mexico as an onshore equivalent to the then Taiwan. If the Canadian concept had been put into practice, then all those US companies would not have required to build plants in Mexico. Trump(f)’s endeavors are addressing a problem created by a US Republican administration decision.
    Don’t bother asking how I know, but that is factual. Remember that as disclosed in Cuba Lifting the Veil, I have a political background. I only speak from knowledge.

  • As a Canadian, i live with some socialist programs and in freedom .
    But we dont’ want the freedom to be racist, shoot first ask later gun policies and American populist government where your president rattles the cages of enemies then applauds himself for later “putting out the fires”. Where he cozies up to communist leaders Xi, Kim , Putin etc… .
    Capitalism like that of the US is poisonous .. rich get richer, poor left behind, and a president who lies , bullies, threatens and deceives , gets control.
    Communism punishes those with entrepreneurism , with ambition and hard working professionals. Who then watch as taxi drivers and maids and waiters get the most monetary rewards.

  • Canadian systems are very socialist in many ways , but we are not for communism and Canadians do very well on the whole. Americans toss the word socialist at us like a 4 letter word.

  • Maria you are deluded if you think that everyone has an equal start in the USA.

  • I have a suggestion about how to understand the power of the media. Read the book The Attention Merchants by Tim Wu .His thesis which by the way took the scales off my eyes deals with the epic struggle to get into our minds, be it political, corporate, even religious. By the way it was published by Alfred A. Knopf \ New York \ 2016 Needless to say I found a wealth of information in that first read which I must now read a second time. A lot of territories are covered in this courageous treatise by Mr. Wu. Warning! It may change your current outlook of society and it’s media manipulators.

  • You make a valid point Mr MacD regarding ‘Miami Syndrome’. Indeed Cubans who emigrate to Europe would also, generally speaking, adopt different political points views than those who go to Miami.
    Actually I think that Cubans (and other migrants) who end up in NYC typically have different views to those in Miami.
    I know that there are certain very right wing exponents in Canada but surely only a fringe element?
    Could you ever envisage a trump rising to power in Canada ?
    Knowing Canada as I do, I would think it exceedingly unlikely that an anti-intellectual, nationalistic, trump style bozo would ever get voted in up there in the North Country……

  • “The rapprochement process he began seemed to be the best alternative to bringing about a peaceful transition of power on the island.”

    Only one problem there will be no transition of power.
    It’s a 1 party communist dictatorship, the president today is just a stooge of Raul Castro the First Secretary of the communist party who appointed him to the position.

  • That Ginni defines a difference that I have noted between the US and it’s northern neighbour, Canada. Those former Cubans who become Canadians appear able to adopt differing political views and express them. In the US there appears to be an obligatory Miami syndrome, which compels sticking all together as an exiled community rather than becoming an integral part of the US populace. Without that, would Donald Trump who claims to be Republican, be President? Was it Cuban “Latinos” who served his ambitions and tipped the scale?

  • Obviously Nick, you continue to maintain that communism is not evil, but have obviously determined that capitalism is!
    Your statement that “we don’t live in a good vs evil world” is but a panacea endeavoring to protect the very evident evils of communism.
    Those who enjoy the freedoms of the capitalist world like both you and I, are able to express our views openly – a freedom denied by communism. That appears to be one example of the differences between “good and evil”.
    If freedom is good, is repression with jail awaiting, not evil?

  • The Cubans that make it to the US become Republicans as they see that the Democrats have kept their voters on the plantation and the Cubans have already done their time there in CUBA and want to move on and become self-reliant. They see a future. As Democrats are locked into time it seems.

  • I like article in so far as it is illustrating geopolitcal reality us alawys wants to maintain influence through imperalism. However cubans had envisoned change instead us has regressed back to cold war ideology, just as in venezuula case illustrates, dissxdents in exile opossiton are groomed to take over by embracing us national interest as articilated by republicans but we author had hoped following barrock obama presidency that trump would have built on foundation for new app roach and us has respect for un charter and not seek to maintain influence through puppete regime and end of sanctions but trump is repeating history and impersonating Reagan

  • The error Maria made Nick was in using the word Socialism instead of Communism. If that correction was made she would be correct. That is why I have expressed my concerns about the Raul Castro “new” constitution replacing the words communist and communism with socialist and socialism and even introducing the word democratic in the endeavor to persuade the innocent in the free capitalist world that Cuba is changing – a claim that is totally bogus.
    You may or may not have noticed that Bernie Sanders an avowed socialist in responding to a questioner, clarified that he was totally opposed to communism and the totalitarian dictatorships that go with it. Although not a socialist, I am concerned for my friends who are, that their views and opinions are understood and not confused with communism.

  • Maria, I’m afraid that the remark ‘Socialism always turns to a dictatorship’ is factually incorrect. It is as factually incorrect as saying ‘The sun comes out at night and the moon comes out in the daytime’.
    This illustrates that you have moved away from the propaganda of the Cuban Government and now you have fallen 100% for the propaganda of the Republican Party.
    Therefore, with the greatest respect, you are the perfect living proof that that Lynn Cruz’s article is accurate.

  • Excellent job Lynn, you’re becoming a powerful voice in journalism. I can assure you that you’ve rattled a few “gusano” cages in Miami. They are not big fans of the voice of reason but how do you change a lifetime of hatred for the sake of hatred ? I look forward to more from you.

  • Maria, we moderate the comments to weed out the most insulting ones. Your’s was just waiting in line. No its posted.

  • Love how my opinion was deleted. To much truth, huh as this one will be deleted as well.

  • I can tell you’re in your 20s. I am in my 30s. I grew up in Hialeah in the 1980s and went to a Cuban private school there. I am married to a Balsero have family that are balseros, and marielitos and my grand parents and part (only part) of their family came as part of el exilio. I vist cuba about 2 times a year and have been for the last 5 years. I am panamenia as well, and I and visit panama 2 times a year and have done so for the last 30+ years ( including when Noriega was president). I only agree to your article in part. What is see in Cuba is that the Cuban people have lost their hope for change. Pa que hablar sit e matan persigue o te mete en la cárcel. With no hope there is no revolting. The embargo is to suffocate the regime. However, the regime can care less because they have their families elsewhere in the world and don’t have the need to provide for themselves in Cuba. Venezuela’s regime does the same with their families. It’s a shame that I have family coming from panama and spending thousand’s in sawgrass yet I am sending food to cuba at the same time. I bleed for Cuba and my heart breaks everything I go. Nadie is safe in expressing their opinions against el regime y el comandante. I get what Obama try to do, but his a simpatico to socialism. His mom went to Cuban in the 70s to work in the sugar cane mills (don’t believe me, read his book). She got brain washed to. Socialism always turns to a dictatorship (because someone has to be in charge of the people, instead of them being in charge for themselves). No one can say anything. If you make more that you are allowed your property gets decomisionado. You saying “Photos of Venezuela are enough for us to understand what the immediate future will be like for everyone who, like me, lives in Cuba”. Eso ya paso every time that there was a periodo especial. You are just living through it now. You were probably just born or about 5 years old when the one for the balseros happen. I was just born for the one of el marielito. Do your research, oh I forgot you have no way of doing that. El gobierno solo te dice lo ellos quieren que tu escuchas and forbids any outside knowledge.

    Cuba tiene un odio al capitalismo pero eso es lo que progresa. It’s not perfect but here in the Yuma your only held back by your own means. Tu tienes el derecho to do and say as you please so long as it isn’t infringed upon other people or can physically hurt anyone else. En cuba you can’t do that. Plus they keep the Young people occupied with “important” government jobs to make them feel special just like they did to their parents. You can’t find water. No basic necessities. They keep the rum and coffee coming because what can you do if your and dehydrated and drunk. Anyone who is older that 40 just gets by because you are of no use to cause any problems. Los Cubanos que llega turn republican because they see that republican values are based on the individual getting ahead and having an equal start, not the masses and everyone having equal outcomes like democrats. Regardless of what Trump supporters do, I don’t pay attention tot hem porque I did my research. Plus those supporters have been in the Yuma for over 100 yrs. Their ante pasados started just the same as all other immigrants did and got hated on the same way. The generations thatfollowed did better than the previous one. Como it should be. Don’t believe me do your research. La Yuma is hard period. Do your research. I can go on and on, pero no lo voy hacer. I will leave you with this. No comes lo que pica el gallo.

  • The article offers a perspective on the problems faced by the Cuban people. It is part of that trend that blames the US government for the situation in Cuba; or at least they are blamed for a significant part of the situation. There are other perspectives; one of them would blame the Cuban government as the main culprit of the situation. All over the world this model of organising the society (in which the state is fully in charge of all the society spheres, including the economic one) has failed. Isn’t it time to consider other options?
    The article is not accurated in several issues. Pres. Carter, Pres. Clinton and Pres. Obama offered the Cuban government proper negotiations to deal with some of the key issues in the agenda US-Cuba. On the three occasions the Cuban government stop the process (sabotaged it is more accurate). Not all Cuban-Americans are Republicans; or hate the revolutionary process (Revolution was in early 60s, now it is a conservative regime). The majority of the Cuban people (in the island and abroad) would like to preserve a health system to which all have accessed without considering their wallets. I must say “not a free health system” ; as this is myth of the Cuban government; no services provide by anyone are free!
    The debate is important; I hope the article allows many, wherever they live to reflect on this important issue for the future of all Cubans.

  • I totally agree with your thoughts I came as a 7 year old in Mariel. And I don’t agree with Trump and his policy and see very little difference between Castro and Trump outside that Castro was way smarter. I supported Obama’s policy which was not given enough time. But the Cuban government was slow way to slow to react to.

  • This is an exceptional article.
    It alludes (as do many of my comments) to the fact that we are not talking about a good vs evil situation here because we don’t live in a good vs evil world.
    President Obama understands this which is why he tried manfully to turn the page (only for the current Liar-in Chief-trump to try and turn it back again in order to get those FLA electoral college votes in 2020).

    In fact this article so perfectly sums up the paradoxical nature of matters relating to Cuba both historically and in the 21st Century, that it almost makes me contemplate giving up writing comments on this forum !!

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