The Death of a Sickly Embargo

Having emigrated from Cuba in 1966, I have lived under the rules of the U.S. trade embargo of Cuba since resettling in the United States with my parents.  I grew up in South Florida, where the Cuban-American community sincerely believed for many, many years that the economic pressure imposed by the embargo would succeed in displacing Castro's communist regime.

As I grew up, this faith seemed more and more misplaced, and in this past decade, through several sanctioned visits to Cuba, I eventually came to the conclusion that the embargo had never been, and would never be, effective in achieving its purpose.  In fact, the embargo seemed to have become Fidel Castro's primary weapon for staying in power, a powerful tool for demonizing American interests and creating the "us vs. them" fictional dichotomy which has been essential in preserving order.  And George W. Bush certainly played into this strategy during his eight chaotic years.

Now, with a new President, a new BLACK President with a great big heart and a great big brain…Cuba isn't sure what to do.  On the one hand, if Obama does as promised and lifts the embargo – even if he only lifts the clearly unconstitutional travel ban prohibiting Americans from freely visiting Cuba (when they can party like a rock star in Iran, North Korea, and anywhere else)– the financial repercussions are vast for Cuba.  The great sucking sound will be that of U.S. tourism FLOODING from other Caribbean and Central American destinations to Cuba, and the cruise industry will experience an astonishing mid-recession/depression renaissance as no travel industry player has ever seen.

On the other hand, the lifting of the embargo – even of the travel portion only – will place the Cuban government in an awkward position.  You see, Cubans adore Americans. Try as they have to demonize America, Castro and his minions have never been able to demonize more than the American government and poorly-thought-out policies, which, again, was greatly facilitated by Mr. Bush's policies and attitude.  But los Americanos are still for the most part loved by the Cubans, who remain as warm, expressive, and inviting as ever, despite 50 years of life under the failed "paradise" euphamistically called "socialism".

The Cuban government must be worried because when the Americans arrive on the island, the veil of coordinated BS falls.  The empty newstands –  bloated with the propaganda passed off as "news", i.e., Juventud Rebelde and Granma and nothing else — will fill with magazines and while the Cubans won't have the $10 to fork over for the surtaxed Newsweek magazine sold at the Melia, you can bet last week's copy will be passed from hand to hand to hand for months to come.

Then and only then will the people of Cuba wake up and smell the lies they've been told.

Then and only then will the bountiful contracts signed by Cuba with European companies secretely controlled by Miami's loudest pro-embargo voices become public in the U.S., prompting outrage within the ferociously loyal exile community.

Then and only then will the sugar subsidies and systematic destruction of the Everglades and Florida Bay grind to a slow halt, as the efficiency of island-based sugar production is resurrected via modern, environmentally-friendly farming technologies, bringing new life to the salt-water-rusted and abandoned mills throughout the island.

To every thing, there is a season, and the season for the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba is, I am glad to say, finally over.