Tuesday, February 21, 2012

End the broken Cuban Embargo Now- Never Worked-Never Will

If this "Great Recession" has taught us anything, it is that these crises occur from the need for us to stop what we are doing wrong and bring about a time of self analysis to eventually and hopefully let go of the systems or structures that are no longer sustainable or working for us.

As is evidenced in the recent Susan G Komen VP's resignation, the million signature petition to oust Scott Walker and the firing of right wing extremist Pat Buchanan from MSNBC, the voices of the moderate, liberal Americans have finally gotten louder than the small group of right wing extremists in this country. A majority of Americans are calling for a more progressive, future-minded America with less waste, debt slavery, and more sustainability, less reliance on fossil fuels or foreign oil and foreign policies that do not bully other countries into doing what we tell them to do.

As Iraq and Afghanistan has shown us, we can no longer afford to be the policemen of the world. We need to turn our focus towards our own country; it's strapped educational system, our citizens' access to affordable health care, preventing the disappearance of the middle class, relying less on foreign oil and the elephant in the room, decreasing our looming deficit. 

We have a long way to go to complete this "house-cleaning" process and in the end we will be on the path to a truly progressive, contemporary and evolved society that is sustainable for generations to come.

The U.S. embargo on Cuba is a gas guzzling, 1959 Studebaker and yet another cantankerous, nonfunctioning system that must be shed in order to progress towards a brighter future for all. Agression begets aggression, fear begets fear and an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. We must break this template of suffering and agression that our history has been pockmarked with and progress towards a more harmonious and cooperative future. This failed foreign policy has done nothing but kill jobs, insulate the country, giving the regime an excuse for all it's malaise, and only serves to please the small group of Republican Cubans in Miami that support the embargo for their own emotionally-laden and illogical reasons. Like a child that has his toy taken away, they object to anyone else playing with their toy if they can't. Democratic Cubans want to end the embargo but they have never raised their voice in Miami for fear of societal reprisals or being accused of being gasp, "Communist". Since the Cubans that are the most powerful in Miami are the one's carrying the biggest sticks, the others don't speak up, quietly rolling their eyes, waiting for their obsession with Fidel and their tired family feud to end.

The world has changed much since it's inception in 1960 over 50 years ago. As far back as 1975, U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy urged the U.S. government to lift the embargo and normalize relations with Cuba. "I believe the idea of isolating Cuba was a mistake," says Kennedy. "It has been ineffective. Whatever the reasons and justifications may have been at the time, now they are invalid." Now 37 years after Kennedy proclaimed it a dead policy, I, a Cuban-American, son of Cuban immigrants call for this sczherade of a policy to end.

This policy has not only been completely ineffective at removing the regime, it has in fact been the main factor in keeping it in power, allowing the regime to use it as a blanket excuse for all it's malaise much in the same way conservatives in this country blame it's troubles on the gay or immigrant communities. It's as if the few supporters left of this embargo were hired as double agents to do the regime's bidding. The only thing the policy has been effective at has been to discredit the United States and give evidence to our detractors that we are practicing, card-carrying imperialists. This embargo has fertilized the egg that gave birth to other radical anti-American leaders in Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia as well as Iran

I want not only other Cuban-Americans to experience the island, but other Americans to experience my country and realize what it means to be hispanic or latino living in the U.S. and missing home. They will finally see why we cling to our culture, why we still sing the songs from our past and all the dated stereotypes of what a latino is will melt away in one visit. These Americans would see a mirror in this country that has fallen from grace, while our own country is still recovering from it's own fall from grace. 

The problem with debating this is similar to the debates raging in this country, the ones debating are not informed enough to fight the status quo or the ones that are screaming the loudest. I urge you to research the topic from both sides; for even the flattest pancake has two sides. Become informed so you can come up with your own conclusions. Compare this policy with others worldwide. Has there ever been an embargo lasting this long on any country? Has this policy done any good? Is it hurting more than helping? Is it time for all parties to sit down and come to a new kind of policy or intelligent debate? 

I imagine a day when this inane embargo would be gone and two vibrant sister cities of Miami and Havana working in synchronicity for each other's growth and vibrance. Miami is a modern day Havana, missing it's elegant mother from which she mirrored her spirit and sex appeal after. Miami's mother has been secreted and locked away in a bitter, dark and cold corner where no one else can enjoy her beauty. 

The older generation of Cubans have wrapped her in a didactic burka of poor judgement, envy and non-democratic foreign policy.

I want to open this discourse from private meetings of U.S. President's with Miami's Cuban elite to all citizens to make a decision on what is right for Florida's closest neighbor. This "Cuban issue" has been used as a pawn to gain votes by so many political hopefuls seeking to win Florida. The ones that have suffered are the Cubans in Cuba stuck with a regime that is isolated without any hope of revolt or access to any kind of weapons to do so. The Cubans living in the U.S. also suffer by being required to send constant remittances to support their families and keep them away from malnourishment or illness. They yearn to be able to visit their homeland without limits and share their heritage with their children. 

Americans and Cubans on the island are held hostage while this eternally long chess game is played out and a nation of over 11 million people across the Florida Straits are left with nothing but isolation from us. If it isn't a child's fault they were born in a communist country like Cuba, is it right for our policies to play a part in that child's suffering? A free and democratic country's right on whether or not it's citizens can do business, generate jobs, or simply travel to that beautiful island cannot and should never have been up to a small group of powerful individuals who claim to own that land. That land as with any land, is for ALL to enjoy.

We do not live in Wonderland where the Red Queen can dictate to her kingdom where her subjects can or cannot travel.

This is a democracy and as such, we Americans should be able to begin business, trade and tourism with Cuba at a time when jobs are so desperately needed. Sister cities nourishing and strengthening each other's economy's, creating thousands of much-needed jobs. If you believe this is a democratic right as strongly as I do, please sign this petition to end this failed foreign policy of more than 50 years by clicking the red button at the end of this blog.

The United Nations voted unanimously yet again in October of 2011, to denounce the Cuban embargo and it's old-Cold War policy of intervention. The votes were 186-2. The two countries that said no were of no surprise; U.S. and Israel. This same vote to end the embargo by the United Nations' General Assembly has occurred consecutively and unbelievably for the last 20 years! This siege is not right, it never was and now it is blatantly obvious and only serves to cause animosity between the two countries instead of mutual cooperation. The supporters of the embargo would say, "you cannot do business with that government.". To that I reply, we already are. America has special trade agreements already in place that create large profits for our country to the tune of up to 711 million dollars since 1992 and that's just for medicine and some agricultural trade. Imagine the potential for commerce if the trade restrictions were completely lifted. It would far surpass the billions.

As recent as January of 2011, Obama reversed Bush's ineffective tightening of the Embargo and reinstated the rights of Americans to send remittances to struggling families and opened up travel restrictions, to certain special groups of Americans. He cut short from eliminating the crusty old mess of a policy due to the objections of one Republican; Ileana Ros Lehtinen whom has consistently been a biased puppet for the select few power-Cubans in Miami. Her lack of vision and creativity for a new strategy has been a blockade since 1989 to any progress for removing this failed policy. It is a comedy of errors that she is also a strong supporter of the Church of Scientology and chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Do we really want someone that gives validity to Scientology as the chairman of our Committee on Foreign Affairs? Cuba has recently made a large, sweeping gesture to the United States to normalize relations by releasing over 2500 political prisoners late last year. However, like Israel and the Palestinians, it never seems to be enough for the Embargo supporters to release their iron grip on the past, ever fearing any future where they cannot punish their enemies instead of trying to find a middle ground and finally making an agreement.

One surprisingly realistic declaration from within her ranks came in 2008, when Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) spelled out a proper policy regarding Cuba: "The United States should allow its citizens to travel and trade with whomever they want. Not only would that be the right thing to do for Americans, it would do far more to bring freedom to Cubans."

I want to take my nieces and nephews on a cathartic field trip to discover what their heritage is without fear of being arrested or fined by U.S. customs agents. I want them to know what it feels like to ride a horse to the top of the Pinar Del Rio's low mountains and view the foggy, green valley below and on the way down feel the spirit cleansing waterfalls of Soroa on their skin. I want them to know the tenderness of the Cuban people and how they taught me to appreciate all the opportunities in America through their positivity and sense of humor; in spite of all their extreme limitations. How a mother and daughter eating rice and beans under a bare light bulb taught me what true generosity was by inviting me in their home to share the little they had to eat with me. We are all missing out on so many wonderful and life-changing experiences that this enchanting island has to offer and the Cubans are missing out on all the wonders of America and it's dynamic and modern culture.

The world has changed and just because we can't get our way doesn't mean the rest of us have to agree with your mentality or go to jail. Americans are free to go to China where human rights abuses are violated daily. Tibetan priests are burning themselves alive to liberate themselves from China's unjust rule of their country but yet Cuba who is only 90 miles away is forbidden for us to visit.

Yes, Cuba has violated human rights and there is room for improvement but so has our government. All governments are a work in progress. Aren't our citizen's rights violated when they are pepper sprayed in the face and arrested for peacefully protesting in a peaceful Occupy demonstration? Aren't they political prisoners as well with their only crime being in protesting the way our government and economy is victimizing them? Aren't our LGBT youth committing suicide by the hundreds as a result of the dehumanizing attacks of the religious right in this country? The United Nations recently sent a harshly worded communication to our government over the apparent human rights abuses of our Occupy Protesters. Should Europe and China put economic embargoes on our country for these human rights abuses? Our policies on either side can only be improved through discourse and exchange of ideas, not from isolation. Isolation equals polarization. The more we exchange ideas the more we can realize our greatest fears are exaggerated illusions of the truth. 

"We live in a sphere where nothing really gets out. The masses now understand that nothing less than global cooperation and shared consciousness of our interconnectedness, will bring solutions to our society's multitude of ills. This and only this will eventually give birth to peace and a sustainable balance with our Earth's finite resources" 
Do you think Cuba would be more apt to violate human rights with more tourists and foreigners visiting, living and doing business within her borders? Do you think her isolation could be controlled with the flood of technology flooding her land and finally giving it's citizens free access to the internet. Her isolation is her greatest ally, allowing the country to get away with holding back the spread of modern technology and thus, the interchange of ideas. Just like Fox news tries to steer Americans by tweaking the truth, "if you control the information, you control the people". Only difference is, we have a choice of where we can get our information, the Cuban people don't. The greatest thing we can export to Cuba after the embargo ends would be our way of life, our technology, our latest toys. Communism would take an instant back seat to the latest Iphone or Playstation.

This petition is also for our president-elect, Obama to finally end this remnant of the Cold War by not approving the extension of the U.S. Embargo in September of this year.

Will you simply adopt and carry someone elses point of view on the matter or take the time to educate yourself on the matter and make up your own mind?
Help make history by signing this petition and finally free two countries from this tragic, 50 year old dance that has separated and hurt so many families. 

Recent Stern article calling for lifting of the embargo.

Another article written by a Cuban supporting the end of the US Embargo.

Havana's Biennial of Contemporary Art this year hosts a bevvy of American art and highlights a cultural reason for increased interchange between our countries.

U.S. Representative Lee Hamilton calls for an end to the embargo.

A historical time line of the do-nothing, job-killing, dictator-sheltering, Cuban embargo.

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