The continuing nonsense of denying Cuba entry to hemispheric blocs or gatherings like the OAS or the Summit of the Americas has gotten to beyond ludicrous. At the Summit of the Americas meeting recently in Colombia, the host country’s president, Juan Manuel Santos, was so right in calling the Cuban embargo, “a cold war anachronism.” What’s dastardly about this enduring vilification of Cuba, spearheaded by the U.S. and supported at last week’s meeting by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (difficult to imagine Pierre Trudeau going the same route today), is that all the participants at these gatherings, the U.S. and Canada included, know full well that the characterization of Cuba’s sidelining as a relic that has no place in today’s world, is dead-on accurate.
But the political games have to be played. So of course President Obama disavowed any election-year shenanigans influencing his decision not to sign a statement that the next summit meeting would include Cuba. Election-year stuff like arousing the ire of Cuban-Americans in a key swing state like Florida. Indeed, not just Florida’s Cuban enclave but the president’s opposition overall would do cartwheels for such an electioneering bonanza were he to bring an end to this inane policy hatched when the Soviet Union and the U.S. locked horns over military/nuclear supremacy.
Cuba, the president said in defense of his stand, has not moved toward democracy. Well, heck, neither has China so why shouldn’t we do some playing field leveling and impose a trade embargo on China as well? The absurdity of going there is matched, although you wouldn’t hear it from the perpetrators, by perpetuation of this silly charade that is the Cuba policy. When America finds herself supported in the UN General Assembly only by Israel in a vote to end the embargo, coming out on the losing end of a 188 to 2 vote when last the matter was addressed, there can’t be much of a chance America’s position holds some sort of merit.
The Cuban-American influence being exercised on this front is a tail-wagging-dog phenomenon and totally reflective of politicians, even if they privately hold views at variance with the Cuban lobby, opting for the spineless path to survivability. Look, we know the chances are slim to none of finding Americans willing to trade places with Cubans resident on the island. On the contrary, there’s been all this documented history over the years of immigrant waves onto American soil. Contrasting with the latter was the one banner occasion when, with the U.S. government apparently ready to grant asylum and maybe a whole lot more to him and his son, Elian Gonzalez’s father chose to return to his native country. The famous Gonzalez episode, if nothing else, scored one for the Castro regime – that things within Cuba weren’t necessarily all bad for all people, as the naysayers would have it portrayed.
We wouldn’t find out by checking the typical American newspaper or television news report, but they’ve done a remarkable job in Cuba in the healthcare field, for instance. At least there seems to be somewhat of a global consensus to that effect, judging from the deployment of Cuban health professionals to places far and wide. And as reflected in international statistical indicators. Cuba continues to have one of the lowest HIV/AIDS infection rates in the world and continues to post impressive numbers that compare favorably with or best those of the U.S. in such areas as life expectancy and infant mortality rates. The point being that even in the vice grip of the decades-long embargo and the end of subsidies following the Soviet Union collapse, Cuba has apparently managed to do a few things well, daunting economic challenges notwithstanding.
As for the go-to line about democracy, when will there be politicians with principle enough to retire this over-used old saw? When did the absence of democracy ever stand in the way of the U.S. coddling regimes all over the globe, once it was in America’s interest to do so? Persisting with the rationale that Cuba’s not being democratic is the reason this punitive policy remains in place is the kind of red meat some in the political arena thrive on, but is pathetic emanating from others…even given our awareness of the required political two-step that comes with the issue.
What’s been annually taking place in the UN, with those near-unanimous votes demanding the U.S. end the embargo, is one thing. It was America’s way, back in the early 60s of making an example of Castro, justified or otherwise as it was at the time. The Summit of the Americas action is a whole other ball game. For starters it’s an entirely different forum, with no reference whatsoever to the U.S.-Soviet-Cuba drama of yesteryear. And it’s about a legitimate hemispheric state being included in discussions about hemispheric matters. American obstinacy in having Cuba excluded from these meetings is sick stuff and shames those who are purveyors of such might-is-right belligerence. What’s next? Are we to see a move made to suspend, for example, the leftist governments of Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia from the organization until they mend their ways?
An Obama second term, should he have one, will hopefully see some bold moves that in this term might have been seen as too politically prohibitive. Surely a candidate for such agenda tinkering is the outdated Cuba policy.