US-Cuba Relations at Deadly Crossroad (I)

Alberto N Jones

Dominos in Cuba. Photo: Agnese Sanvito

HAVANA TIMES, Dec. 24 — During a highly anticipated campaign speech in Miami in May 2008, Barack Obama drew a thunderous applause from a large audience, when he denounced president George W. Bush failed isolationist policy towards Cuba.

He went on to say, if elected, he would name a special envoy to Latin America,  invest millions of dollars in a region that had been neglected, open travel to Cuba especially for Cuban-Americans, because they would be the best ambassadors of democracy and he further expressed his willingness to discuss existing political differences with the Cuban government.

Two years after, the only promise kept by now President Barack Obama has been, relaxing the Cuban-Americans travel regulations, a boost to Miami’s Cuba-related economy and an incredible 64% approval rate in that city, in a recent Bendixen poll.

At the same time, most Cuban-Americans from across the United States have expressed their support for these new regulations, by voting in mass with their feet, as they travel to their homeland in droves, despite lingering, unfriendly, quasi hostile treatment by some Cuban Immigration and Customs officials, who continue to perceive Cuban-Americans as potential enemies.

Birthday Cake. Photo: Ana Artén

It therefore becomes an imperative to improve the Cuban-American visitors and Cuban airport officials relations, in order to consolidate this new development, by creating a more friendly, welcoming atmosphere, as it is elsewhere around the world.

Another very serious issue that should not be ignored because of the negative impact it exerts on thousands of elderly and low income Cuban-Americans, who are denied the opportunity to visit their country, because of the onerous processing fee for their Cuban Passport and Visa and for having to purchase one the most expensive airline tickets in the world.

Proof of the above, is the fact that a round trip ticket Miami-Dominican Republic or Miami-Haiti, which is twice the flying time Miami-Santiago de Cuba, can be purchased regularly for $225.00 as opposed to $500.00 for the latter.

Additionally, thousands of senior citizens and others fearful of flying could benefit immensely with the introduction of a Fort Lauderdale-Habana and a Fort Lauderdale-Santiago de Cuba Ferry Service, which could double or triple the passenger/cargo volume immediately, at a substantially lesser cost.

For some, these thoughts may suggest I have digressed from the main topic.  Rather, they are intended to foster, develop and expand on the only US-Cuba measure that President Barack Obama has enacted.

New Congress Promises Even Less Action on Cuba

The disastrous results that the November 4, 2010 mid-term election have had on the Democratic Party and on President Barack Obama, in which, Councilmen, Mayors, State Legislators, Governors, Judges, US Congressmen and Senators, were swept out of office like garbage, have turned out to be the worst Democratic Party political debacle in over sixty years.

Rural Cuba. Photo: Agnese Sanvito

Demoralized and weakened beyond belief, none of those campaign promises that the President had enunciated and failed to enact because of his indecisiveness, fear to step on toes and a propensity to compromise although he had the majority in Congress and in the Senate, will not be brought up, during the second half of his presidency.

Conversely, the Republican Party and the Tea Party strength and authority have grown exponentially, enabling them to elect across the nation, the most reactionary, religious fundamentalist, xenophobic and backward politicians to high offices in recent US history.

The right-wing Cuban-American Congressional delegation has never before been in such a strong, challenging, leadership position.  From that vantage point they will be capable with the aid of many radical newcomers, to reformulate the views, approach and direct a large and important segment of the United States government.

With the appointment of US Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lethinen as Chair of the all-powerful House Foreign Relations Committee, we can only imagine the bellicose, aggressive, war-like bills that will be coming out of her office, while no one proposing understanding, dialogue or friendship with a host of governments she hates and is obsessed with their destruction, will ever see the light of day.

Cienfuegos Coast. Photo: Agnese Sanvito

The net result of the US-Cuba relations following the disastrous mid-term election, maybe recorded as the greatest political setback in the past fifty years, which could escalate into a political, military confrontation, similar to the tragic days of the Missile Crisis in 1962.

For half a century, Cuba has defended herself against all types of aggressions, by denouncing them in the media, appealing to every reputable international organization, solidarity groups, high profile international scholars and Nobel Prize winners, etc.

Not even nineteen consecutive years of condemnations by the United Nations General Assembly, demanding the United States cease and desist it’s blockage against Cuba, have moved this President or any of his predecessors to respond.

The only thing we are sure of at this moment, is that the Cuban people have suffered too much,  they are exhausted and they are demanding a moment of peace, happiness and tranquility for their homeland and their children.

After carefully reviewing this new terrifying scenario, it is no exaggeration if we conclude, that if the embargo is not effectively dismantled and brought to a crashing, deafening end, it may well live with the Cuban people for the next fifty years.

In the name of peace, harmony, love and understanding among the people of the United States and Cuba, I will offer to the world, some unsolicited, lay, empirical, never tried, nothing to lose suggestions, that if they were to work as anticipated, they would shatter the support base of the embargo imposed upon our people.

To be continued…

One thought on “US-Cuba Relations at Deadly Crossroad (I)

  • on a slightly related topic that was referred to in this article–
    a real issue is the Immigration officers in Cuba- most are fine , BUT , here is an example of how one officer can affect tourism
    I am a Canadian , over 60 years old, and I have been traveling to Cuba since 1984 .I have visited the country from one end to the other , and have many wonderful holidays at your resorts.
    On my last visit , i arrived at Holguin airport , and the immigration officer asked me the pre requisite questions. When i proudly told her that I had visited for more than 20 trips , she sent me over to another lady who grilled me on who i knew and would not accept that I was not bringing in money or contraband for a local– After all , anyone who visits that many times must know many people and be bringing in articles that are not allowed.
    After an of hour grilling , and a very thorough search of my baggage , i was allowed through, very reluctantly.
    i shall never return to holguin , a direct result of that over zealous immigration officer.
    I love Cuba, but there are many other places that i also love.
    I do not expect a free pass , but i do not expect to be treated as a criminal either.

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