Alberto N Jones
HAVANA TIMES — In less than four months, Barack Obama will no longer be president of the United States and he will return to civilian life, without many of his national and international ambitions having been fulfilled.
Restoring diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba is, without a doubt, one of Barack Obama’s greatest political victories, as he managed to do what no other US president before him could do in half a century.
In spite of enormous pressure, media attacks, an obstructionist Congress in hands of the opposition party that doesn’t stop going on about the tragic days of the Cold War and the Cuban missile crisis, this achievement may end and maybe even revert the most important political conflict in our region within the last 50 years.
The indescribable economic and social damage, stress, disease and death which the Cuban people have had to endure, has marked a heroic people, who knew how to resist the greatest attack by the giant in the North, with indelible scars.
US intellectuals and political experts who have visited Cuba have held exchanges with our intellectuals, visited the Hemingway museum and drank a daiquiri or two at the Floridita. Then they return home to the US converted into experts on all things Cuban, editors about Cuban subjects, giving conferences at universities and on the TV. Some of these people have contributed to twisting and warming anti-Cuban sentiments in the US.
Similarly, some Cuban intellectuals who have visited the US, given conferences and are considered in Cuba to be experts on the super complex and contradictory US policy, where apart from having the authority to declare war, the president of the United States is tied by his hands and feet with Congress’ never-ending deliberations. Worst still is when draft bills are set aside and die out in the hands of the opposition party.
Cuba’s media has made the general population believe that the US president has the immense privilege, authority and decision-making power that the Cuban president has, creating a false impression that is self-destructive.
Some members of Cuba’s mass media who demand that president Barack Obama lift the trade embargo, do away with the Helms-Burton Act and other things, haven’t bothered to explain to the Cuban people that these measures are encoded in law. This means that in order to change them, 3/4 of the 450 members in the House of Representatives and the Senate need to approve it.
Denying the huge effort that Barack Obama has made to normalize relations between the two countries, a lot more than what all his predecessors did put together, is cruel and unfair.
Maintaining a false politically correct stance, fearful of retribution for admitting undeniable truths, is a mistake by Cuban authorities and their media. The fact is that the presence of Barack Obama in Cuba was an infusion of hope, honor and dignity especially for black Cubans, who could appreciate the simple, frank and friendly way he and his family held themselves, thereby breaking down age-old infuriating racist notions that continue to exist in Cuba.
Unfortunately, many preferred to capitalize on a mistaken paragraph in his speech which suggested forgetting the past as a way to move forward and make progress with the relationship between these two countries.
Momentary amnesia led many to forget the risks, invasions, shortages, devastation and grief that other US leaders had infringed on our country. They failed to recognize the value of how Obama, just like former president Carter, held out his hand to us in reconciliation.
Cuba would have benefited much more if the spotlight had been inverted, inviting Obama to visit and morally commit himself to his black brothers in Marianao and Santiago de Cuba; by showing him the great material and psychological damage that the presence of the Navy Base has caused to the people of Guantanamo, or by inviting him to the Isle of Youth to show him our rural schools, where thousands of children, orphaned by wars in Africa and others, received love, education, healthcare and are today honest men and women all over the world?
We could have publicly summoned him to develop a project with Cuba after the Guantanamo base is returned some day to the country.
This unique opportunity to show the world our people’s altruism, humanism and empathy was thrown out of the window.
Cuba cannot expect better conditions to negotiate with either of the two US presidential candidates. The election of Donald Trump to the presidency would revert the two countries’ relationship back to the worst moments in the Cold War and Hillary Clinton’s aggressive mentality is more than well-known.
This is the moment of truth!