Cuba: What Does it Say About our Country?

Dear Friends,

I find Cuba endlessly fascinating. When you travel to Cuba, you always end up leaving with more questions than answers. Yet, beyond the cultural richness of this island nation, there is another way in which Cuba gives this U.S. citizen pause. Cuba provides an intriguing lens through which to view our own nation. It casts shadows where there should be light and it reveals recesses of our national psyche that lack logic and good sense.

The Capitolio in Havana, fashioned after our very own Capitol

So here are some of my many questions:
•   Why do we implement a policy that restricts our citizens’ freedom to travel where they wish when we object to the same restrictions on freedom imposed by the Cuban government?
•   What other countries does our own government prohibit us from visiting other than Cuba? (None!)
•   When we have resumed relations with China since the 1970s and Vietnam since the 1990s, both nations with Communist regimes and human rights abuse records, why do we continue to isolate and economically oppress Cuba, 90 miles off our shores?
•   How effective has isolationism been in punishing and/or undermining the Castro regime?
•   Who are the real victims of U.S. policy in Cuba?
•   How does a small minority like the conservative Cuban Americans in Congress wield so much power in our democratic system?
•   How much leverage do we have in influencing Cuba’s future direction if we do not encourage economic engagement with Cuba?
•   Why do we export over $700 million in U.S. agricultural products (rice, beans, corn, frozen chicken) to Cuba every year when there is an embargo in place?
•   What other early 1960s policy still dominates our polemic today?
•   Why are we devoting tax-payers’ dollars to policing a complex set of regulations governing our relations (or lack thereof) with Cuba, an island of just over 11 million people?
•   When foreign countries implement laws that make fun of our own (eg. Helms Burton Act), is it not a sign that we lack reason?
•   In a post-Cold War world, what are we afraid of?
•   What will happen when Fidel and Raul die?
•   When will this all end?

Hatred runs deep, I know. Yet it seems we are in a position to take a risk here. How about trying a new policy, since the one that has been in place for over 70 years has been so completely ineffective?

The fantastical world of artist Jose Fuster, Jaimanitas

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