By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — Even though many people claim that we aren’t important to the US, the truth is that we are much more important than we seem. It isn’t simple chauvinism, it’s the absolute truth.
Of course, we aren’t at the center of their interests and it would be foolish to think that people wake up in the White House thinking about Cuba. But, for a small country that is financially insignificant, we hold a great influence.
Cubans on the island don’t have as much as the government, although they mention us with concern, our usurped rights. Ever since 1959, “the Revolution” has challenged this superpower by intervening in its businesses in Cuba, expropriating vast areas do land and favoring its greatest enemy, the Soviet Union, to replace them as Cuba’s strategic partner. The Cuban Missile Crisis was the climax, but from then until now, attempts to drive each other into the ground have been mutual.
Cubans from the US, on the contrary, have their own influence. It was only in the beginning that they were used, when their interests coincided with the vengeful motives of a giant with its wounded supremacist pride. However, they soon adapted to their new reality and as the vast majority were capitalist entrepreneurs or technocrats, they were very successful. The leading role the Cuban community had in the development of southern Florida is even recognized.
As a result of this overwhelming nationalism we Cubans have, although some of us want to deny it, the “Cuba issue” and their wish to change it, made them climb up to positions of power, becoming one of the most influential communities in US politics.
The communist government in Cuba has never recognized, and much less praised, the success of its emigrees anywhere in the world, especially in the US where it’s very obvious. Something which makes its “selective and discriminatory nationalism” clear as a result of different ideologies.
Now, our “community” in the US has grown a lot more after the last exodus, which Obama halted when he revoked the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy. According to the latest census, there are around 2,160,000 Cubans living in the US. This is the same as over 20% of the island’s population or nearly 20% of all Cubans in the world. It’s a signficant percentage, there’s no doubt about that.
We could consider the US to be “the other Cuba” as a result of the number of Cubans who are there and their influence both there and here. It’s therefore outrageous that with such ties, both countries aren’t friends. We share a history that dates way before 1959, when Cuba supported the independence of the Thirteen Colonies by giving money and military forces, it traded with the US and then they began to invest in our sugar industry.
Our fighters for freedom always sought refuge in the North, even though they found it “rough and cruel.” From the heros of the Ten Years’ War, Marti himself and even Fidel, who went to look for funds to return democracy to Cuba after it had been cut at the stump by Batista’s coup. (We know he changed his mind after he won).
Insults come and go, and even though we seem like enemies, we are the same people. When a mindless communist shouts “down with the worm”, he’s really saying “down with my cousin, down with my brother, down with my ex-neighbor.” There isn’t a neighborhood or town where dozens and even thousands of residents haven’t emigrated, or a family without Cuban-Americans. These worn-out phrases come from the ‘60s, just like the CDRs and the many other things that today don’t make any sense or serve any purpose.
Communist Cuba has failed in every sense, that’s an irrefutable fact. And the calendar isn’t giving the “historic leadership” any more chances to continue with its social experiments on this “guinea pig” population that we became with their utopian and opportunist experiments. Because we can forgive their utopia that dominated in the first three decades, but not their opportunism in the last two.
They only have a distinguished group of elders in every region who have been traumatized with their dogma, reluctant to open their eyes (and their brains). As well as this other larger group of hypocritically-committed “members”, who receive some gifts or privileges in return. This along with their repressive and armed bodies of social control, has kept them in power. But, their defeat is so great that they need their “enemy”, the US, to be able to keep themselves in power and to dream about flourishing. That really kicks the can!
Without remittances, family visits, “mules”, money invested in family businesses, US tourism, the agreement allowed with the Paris Club and making the embargo more flexible for cruise ships and investments from third countries, what would the Cuban economy be now that Venezuela is in crisis and the country has been destroyed? Not so much by the hurricane as by their ideology.
This is why there is a dilemma in the US, which is the second Homeland for millions of Cubans: would it be better to suffocate them or to open up 100% to them? Both routes have advantages and disadvantages.
The “Obama plan” came with risks as it empowered the government more than it did the Cuban people, but it’s the latter that will bring about change. Trump’s plan, which is the same as always, suffocates them, but in the end it’s the ordinary Cuban people who are really left without air, as the government lives in an “airtight bubble” of luxuries and they always take the most political gain out of adverse situations.
I will go out on a limb and roundly state that this setback in the relationship between both countries, to the extent it is to today, has only hindered the cause of a democratic and prosperous Cuba, much more than Cuba’s own economy. The case of the sonic attacks clearly needs to be resolved and it justifies the protective measures put into place, but it never should have harmed consular matters to the point it did.
The struggle for a better Cuba has many points of view. A “Cuban-American” politician, who feels for Cuba but lives in the US and has his interests there, has a different focus to a “Cuban-Cuban” politician, who is here and needs to interact with his followers there, in the “other Cuba”.
The seemingly apolitical behavior of the majority of the last wave of migrants doesn’t justify limiting this vital contact real citizens who fight for democracy have with people on the other side who support us. Only time will tell, on whose neck Trump put the noose on.