Obama’s Cuban Lament

By: Daniel Nardini

                             Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary    At a recent meeting with some Cuban dissidents, U.S. President Barack Obama “lamented” the United States not trying to support or back up the process of the democratization of Cuba. Obama met with a group of opponents such as Guillermo Farinas, and one of the Ladies in White known as Berta Solar. Obama met these prominent dissidents at the home of the chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation Jorge Mas Santos. Obama spoke about America not trying to “re-imagine” its relationship with Cuba, especially now that Cuba is allowing travel with its own people, and changing the way things are being done in Cuba from a state economy to a more privatized one.
                                Personally, these things are indeed happening, and it does show that a number of things are changing in Cuba. But this should come as no surprise—Cuba is following the lead of China, Vietnam and Laos. These three countries have drastically changed a lot of what they do economically and to an extent socially because they had no choice. If not, their economies would have also collapsed like that of the former Soviet Union, East Germany, and much of Eastern Europe. The Cuban government is also seeing what is happening to North Korea. The only reason why North Korea has survived at all is because of China. China is trying to keep North Korea on life-support while trying to change the nature of North Korea’s handling of its own economy. The Cuban government under Cuban President Raul Castro does not want to let Cuba collapse, and hence is working to change things now since it does not really have a powerful patron like China as North Korea does.
                              However, there are two things that in my view must keep the United States from doing anything about trying to move further in to trying to “help” Cuba. First, the Cuban government is holding an American named Alan Gross hostage in exchange for four of its spies. This is unacceptable, and should be resisted. Second, and no less important to America’s security, is the fact that Cuba has been selling arms and other vital equipment to North Korea. North Korea has threatened the United States with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and Cuba giving North Korea the means to attack the United States is unacceptable. If Obama can get the Cuban government to unconditionally release Gross from prison and pledge no longer to supply any weaponry to North Korea, then it is possible for Obama’s lament on Cuba to have a real foundation. If these two things were out of the way, I would have no major problem on why the United States should move closer to recognition of Cuba. However, this move closer to America is solely in Cuba’s hands now.

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