Previous input from the in-tray here. Another reader gives a shoutout to Francis: “For the pope to be a broker for the deal makes the whole story even more interesting.” Another looks at the opening of Cuba with realist eyes:
There is no hypocrisy in maintaining normal relations with China, Saudi Arabia, and other violators of human rights while denying that status to Cuba. Saudi Arabia has lots of oil and a strategic position in the world producing world. It is a relationship of economic convenience, and both sides understand that. China offers huge trade opportunities, and in the beginning of our relationship, a counter to the Soviet Union. You have diplomatic relations with states when it is necessary and prudent.
Cuba offers nothing to the USA or its citizens other than another tourist destination, cigar, and rum. There are practically no consequences to US citizens for not normalizing relations other than opening up yet another Caribbean tourist destination, and providing access to cigars, and rum. Just because Cuba has not liberalized its society doesn’t make our foreign policy a “failure” any more than other nations who have diplomatic relations with Cuba “failed” to effect an opening.
I’m not opposed to ending the travel ban, but we should have gotten a lot more out of Cuba for normalizing relations. At a minimum, Obama should have required Castro to lift all restrictions for Cubans to have Internet access.
Update from a reader:
Normalizing relations doesn’t give us anything in terms of security? Really? Here’s a simple thought experiment: is it better to have friendly relations with neighbors or antagonistic relations with neighbors?
Another relates to Will’s criticism:
Just amazes me how the left romanticizes Cuba, even as it attempts skepticism. I just got off the phone with a friend from Cuba. Her family is sending a blood pressure machine to a relative in Cuba because none are to be found.
Another provides some family history:
Nothing steams me up more than one of the comments from your reader:
We all know the real reason: political posturing. Castro stripped Cuban aristocrats of their wealth. They fled to Florida and have been propping up anti-Castro policy ever since. There are no principles here.
Well, here is a story about one such “aristocratic” family. My mother’s mother, with her eight children between the ages of 15 and 1, left Cuba in 1960 with nothing but a tiny suitcase and the clothes on their backs. She would meet her husband in Miami, where they would begin a new life. They left family, friends, their homes, their country. Slowly, many of her family and friends also left for Miami and elsewhere after thinking that Fidel would be the answer to all of Batista’s corruption. My grandmother never saw her mother again, who passed away in 1977.
My grandfather was the son of a middle-class family in Havana, nicknamed Barbarito because he was born on Sta. Barbara’s Saint Day. During the time Batista was in power, my grandfather was imprisoned for six months for, in his words, “Conspirando” (conspiring). After their emigration from Cuba, he remained active in conspiring, but to overthrow the Castro regime and to return home. He always believed he’d return. My grandfather passed away in 1990, my grandmother passed away in 1992, never having returned to Cuba.
My mother, who left Cuba when she was 10, visited Havana in the mid-nineties. She was allowed to go to her grandmother’s home, though only allowed in the front salon. The man who lived in the lower part of house kept many of her grandmother’s items, including photos of her and her family. They were little snapshots of their daily life in Cuba, remembrances of what they left. She was able to take them back to her brothers and sisters.
I am also part of the diaspora, having been born in England to a Guyanese father, coming to Miami in 1980, now living in Los Angeles. I consider myself Cuban. In memory of my grandparents, I have chosen not to go to Cuba until conditions change and the Castro regime topples. This week’s news is part of that change, though I am undecided as to my feelings about it and am still processing what that means for my uncles, aunts and friends.
When I read the comment above, as well as all the jokes about McDonalds and the Americanization of Cuba, I am shocked at the disregard for the suffering millions of people have had on both sides of the Florida Strait for the past fifty plus years. This week’s news should not be about making jokes, making blanket statements about what one thinks happened in the fifties and sixties, about Republicans and Obama, or about one’s vacations plans. The news is about peoples homes and loved ones, regardless of political leanings.
Another reader is also “thrilled by the news”:
Cuba is the most depressing place I’ve ever been. I flew from Merida to Havana as part of my trip around the world in my mid 20s. Everyone I met was in their mid-late 20s and very attractive but short due to protein deficiency (they talked about eggs once a week). They all had masters. None of them worked. The highlight of their day was meeting up with me to get a Coke and an ice cream in the park using the dollar line (I happily treated).
I still recall one conversation I had with the guys I met up with every day. They couldn’t believe that there were poor people in Mexico. That got me thinking. Mexicans can’t believe there are poor people in the United States. Both a simple and extremely complicated concept to consider.
Your blog fails to mention the gross human violations the Castro brothers have committed over the past 50 years. The alacrity and glee your blog has greeted the diplomatic opening with a government comprised of thugs is breathtakingly hypocritical and disappointing.
Details of that despotism from Raúl Castro here. Another reader thinks of the birds:
Far more worrisome than Golden Arches spoiling all those picturesque Havana ruins is the prospect of Cuba‘s coastal areas, some of the most pristine in the hemisphere, getting turned into resorts. The jailing/isolation of Cuba has been a blessing for birds and wildlife, which enjoy nearly pre-Columbian conditions in some spots. I am eager for theCuban people to enjoy more freedom, and I think it’s all but certain they would embrace an more American-like lifestyle very quickly if given chance. That’s one of the things the people griping about Obama’s “betrayal” forget or ignore – the allure of the bonuses of our system. But Cuba‘s coasts are a rare world treasure.
And another disparages one of the main conduits of commentary this week:
Hard to feel much sympathy for anyone feeling his comments maligned after posting them on Twitter, e.g., the funky Cuba vs McDonalds kerfuffle. If Twitter is inherently inadequate for in-depth analysis, then don’t use it to express your views and then expect to be cut slack because there was no space to get at an issue more profoundly. Best, I would imagine, to confine oneself to pith and snark, or otherwise accept the likelihood of being misunderstood, willfully or not.