Now that Fidel Castro is stepping down as President, Dictator, Grand Poohbah, or whatever it is he is called, American politicians are highly agitated over what happens next. Conservatives claim that nothing should change until Cuba initiates democratic processes. Liberals argue that engaging with the country would help them move in that very direction. That we are still imposing an all out embargo on Cuba is ridiculous. Cuba stopped being a threat as soon as Soviet missiles and bombers were removed in 1962. The Mouse That Roared was a work of fiction, after all.
The arguments against normalizing relations with Cuba are all based in hypocrisy.
Argument: Until Cuba initiates Democratic processes, we shouldn’t engage with them. If this were a tenet of our foreign policy we wouldn’t be getting toys with lead paint from China or getting raped over oil by Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations (nearly all monarchies, totalitarian regimes, etc..,.). So much for Persian limes, too.
Argument: Cuba is a terrorist nation; we don’t do business with terrorists. How many Cubans are there in Al Qaeda? Weren’t most of those 9/11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia, our allies in oil and dear friends of the Bush’s? How many marketplaces have Cuban suicide bombers blown up this year? Anyone heard of Tiananmen Square? Where does our oil come from?
Argument: Cuba is a communist country. See: Viet Nam, where we make Nikes. See: China, where we get our deadly tires, kid’s toys, pet food ingredients, etc..,. Hey, we actually have a trade deficit with those Chinese Commies.
Argument: The Cuban totalitarian government is oppressive; we shouldn’t do business with them. None of the countries listed above are any less oppressive than Cuba. Their citizens also lack basic freedoms and face overbearing restrictions, especially women in Middle East nations.
Cuba has an abysmal human rights record, no freedom of the press, and a serious lack of personal liberties for its citizens. That is reprehensible and surely nothing to brag about. Although the US overlooks those same humanitarian issues when interacting with other countries, it chooses not to when dealing with Cuba. There must be some good reason for this.
Perhaps the Pan-American rum, sugar, and tobacco industries are funneling more money than they make into Washington to lobby against the normalization of relations with Cuba. Jamaica, Aruba, Costa Rica, the Dominican, and Mexican resort areas must be savagely spreading anti-Cuban propaganda, fearing the potential loss of tourists to Hemingway’s favorite island. What else makes sense?
Of course, as Americans we should work (not invade) to help all citizens of the world achieve the same pre-Patriot Act freedoms that we enjoyed here. The Hangover looks forward to one day doing so with Viet Nam-made Nikes on his feet and a Romeo y Julieta Petit Corona in his mouth.