A controlling premise of U.S. policy is that Cuba must change – by which its Cold War-era authors meant giving up every feature of its governing and economic systems – before our country will even contemplate normalizing relations with Cuba.
So far, this approach doesn’t seem to be working. But, hey, as the current crop of Cold Warriors seem to think: ‘just give it time. We’ve only been at it for six decades.’
As written, these policies make it extremely difficult for U.S. residents to visit Cuba legally, nearly impossible to engage with Cuba economically, and pose enormous obstacles for our government in dealing with Cuba’s government diplomatically.
Consequently, they have a vested interest in persuading anyone (U.S. policymakers) and everyone (the rest of us) that Cuba is the same country in 2013 as it was more than fifty years ago when sanctions were first slapped on.
But the notion that Cuba hasn’t changed and isn’t changing is the hardliner’s illusion, not ours. Nearly every day, changes are taking place on the island and even here – in Miami and Washington – where people are seeing this issue differently and behaving differently, too.
Just take a look at what we’re reporting this week:
Cuban Music Icon Rodríguez Challenges State Censorship
HAVANA — The best known musician in Cuba and a staunch supporter of the island’s communist revolution, Silvio Rodríguez, has challenged state censorship by inviting a recently sanctioned colleague to join him at two concerts this weekend on the Caribbean island.
Cuba’s Bishops Call for Political Freedom and New Relations With U.S.
HAVANA –The Roman Catholic Church in Cuba has issued a rare pastoral letter calling for political reform in tandem with social and economic changes already underway. Additionally, the letter praised the recent reforms of President Raúl Castro and called on the U.S. to end decades-old economic embargo on the island.
NPR affiliate apologizes and re-invites Cuba book author
MIAMI — The Miami affiliate of National Public Radio has apologized for canceling an interview with the author of a book that criticizes the Miami trial of five Cuban spies, and has re-invited him to appear on a news show.
U.S. and Cuba talk about resuming direct mail service
HAVANA – The United States and Cuba concluded on Monday their second round of talks aimed at re-establishing direct mail service between the two countries after a 50-year ban, but left for later the most sensitive issue – Cuban planes landing on U.S. soil.
These are just the headlines from this week. Regular readers will remember what we have reported in the past: when Cuba’s government legalized cell phones, dropped prohibitions on Cubans selling their cars and homes, stopped denying Cubans entry into hotels, opened up jobs for Cubans in the private sector to earn their own living away from the state payroll, legalized travel for so that most Cubans can leave and return to Cuba, sold off some state-owned businesses, freed political prisoners, shuttered the Ministry of Sugar, and opened media channels to complaints by citizens about government inefficiency and corruption in the health sector, and the list goes on.
These are real changes and it’s very hard to connect any of them to trade sanctions, travel restrictions, Radio or TV Martí, or the “democracy promotion” (regime change) programs responsible for the arrest and lengthy prison sentence being served by Alan Gross, as much as the Cold Warriors might try.
This is not to say that everything is perfect, or that Cuba has become the multiparty democracy as specified under The Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 or the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996.
What it does mean, however, is that when you hear their mantra “nothing has changed,” the Cold Warriors who repeat it are only admitting what the rest of us know – their policy has never worked and that time has passed them by.
Now that you’ve opened your eyes and read the headlines, we invite you to read the news.