Fidel Castro was spotted in public the other day, voting in a Parliamentary election. Our sworn Commie enemy was but a shadow of his former revolutionary, robust, hell-raising self. He looked like anything but the talented baseball player he was back in the day. Though he did not possess the skills needed for an invitation to a major league baseball tryout, a fable that has been spun for decades. His once luxurious beard is but twisted, washed-out straggles; his voice is barely audible and he’s stooped over like he’s perpetually picking cotton. In short, he’s a cancer-ridden dying old man of 86.
Suffering from an infected colon at the time, Castro stepped down from the presidency (or its grander title “President of the Council of State and the Commander in Chief”) of Cuba nearly 6 years ago, thus ended the almost half-century of Fidel dominance.
Castro entered the American consciousness with his 1959 overthrow of Fulgencio Batista, a brutal, Mafia-loving dictator who, like Castro, seized power through a coup. Philosophically, Batista was the Cuban version of Mitt Romney. All the spoils go to major corporations and to hell with the other 99%. He was also corrupt as hell, censored the media and through his goons, was constantly imprisoning, torturing and killing those who took issue with his repressive policies.
After chasing Batista into exile, Castro originally promised a democracy, but soon installed Communism as the government of choice. He became a tight ally of the Soviet Union. His troubles with America began when he allowed the Russians to built missile-launching sites on the island. This understandably rankled U.S. leadership and after the farcical “Bay of Pigs” invasion, an economic and trade embargo against Cuba was imposed in 1962. And, by golly, we’ve got a long memory. Most of those sanctions are still there, again, nearly a half-century removed from their imposition.
In a glaring example of his geopolitical naiveté, George W. Bush tightened the screws on remittances and travel where such a move wasn’t even remotely necessary. Obama has loosened some of these screws, but not nearly enough to consider his actions as a normalization of relations.
There remains a small but vocal minority of Cuban émigrés who want to keep the embargo in place until Cuba renounces Communism. Florida Senator Marco Rubio hopes to ride this resistance to a place on the Republican Party ticket in 2016. He told the right-wing publication, “Human Events” that he would lift the embargo “When Cuba joins the rest of the civilized world in how it treats its people.” He especially emphasized the actions of the “Ladies in White” who have marched for years in protest of the imprisoning of 75 anti-government protesters in 2003. The marchers, dressed entirely in white, are mostly wives and female relatives of the jailed dissidents. Rubio claimed the marchers were taunted and beaten. There have been reports by blogs and websites of isolated beatings, but none have been verified by major news media or caught on video. If you’ve seen such actions, let us know.
There have been hecklers during some of the marches but most of the time, the ladies are escorted and protected by police officers and security forces. Some 30 of the women have been jailed themselves and a number were released early in 2012 prior to a visit by the Pope. Cuba may be communist, but it’s also 65% Catholic.
I suspect Rubio would find little support in riding the anti-Republica de Cuba horse into partisan battle. Of all the various polls conducted on the diplomatic restoration of relations with Cuba about two thirds of Americans think it’s a good idea.
And why not? Marco should catch up on some of his contemporary history. Compared to some of our allies and trade partners, Cuba is downright harmless. The Republican party power structure just adores Saudi Arabia for instance. No censure or embargoes for the Saudi treatment of women. Talk about repression. If under 45, Saudi ladies must answer to their male “Guardians” on matters such as jobs, education, sex and a dress code that has females wrapping themselves up like mummies. Then there’s the matter of 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers calling Saudi Arabia home. “With friends like these…”
And how about our relatively new trading partner, Vietnam. I’m sure you’ve heard of Vietnam. They’re a communist country through and through. We tried to stop that some years ago. Vietnam’s biggest hamlet is even named after an iconic commie, Ho Chi Minh City. The NVA (North Vietnamese Army) and the Viet Cong (VC), killed 57,000 Americans and we left. That’s roughly 57,000 more Americans than Castro has killed. Meanwhile, the CIA was wearing itself out trying to take out Castro with such assassination esoterica as hankies, cigars, ballpoints and milkshakes. Gee, it works in the movies.
But let 57,000 death bygones be bygones. U.S. investors trampled all over themselves to grab off Vietnam dollar bonds last year. Over 500 U.S. companies do business in Vietnam. And trade? It’s burgeoning. To quote the State Department, “The economic relationship between the United State and Vietnam is flourishing.”
H’mmm; a communist country that the U.S. seems to embrace as a long lost friend. Well, surely if we keep Cuba at arm’s length, what must we do with the largest communist country in the history of the world? Good ‘ole China is home to 1.343 BILLION reds last time I checked. And while we’re on the subject, China’s fingerprints were all over the Vietnam war; ordinance, equipment, money, strategy and yes, TROOPS from the earliest shots fired. China has also robbed the U.S. economy of millions of jobs and over time, most likely, trillions of dollars. As for Human Rights; don’t get me started.
So let’s grow up and jettison this ridiculous communist excuse. It doesn’t seem to apply anywhere else in the world.
Sure, Raul’s got a little of the nasty in him; however, slowly but surely he’s decompressing the misguided rule that marked much of his brother’s regime. If politicians can diplomatically and financially cuddle and smooch with other communist or oil-rich countries of mayhem, extremism and corruption, Washington can certainly welcome Cuba back into the fold of tolerable acquaintances.