March 2016 – Some thoughts on the recent announcement on the embargo lift. First and foremost, I am not Cuban. I am a Mexican American so I cannot fully understand the emotional impact of the situation, but I do understand some things about it. In my previous job I traveled to Miami often. I was able to meet with a lot of different people, a lot of Cubans and a lot of people from (mostly) Central America. It was a really eye opening experience for me. On the one hand, since I was born in the United States, but on an international border, I understand the duality of identity. I fully embrace my both sides, Mexican and American, like my fellow Cuban Americans fully embrace their duality.
The Cuban Embargo began because of the tensions between the United States and Cuba, in order to make it more relatable and less wordy I will try to use family relations to explain. The United States was the the older sister with money, Cuba was the younger sister with her own ambitions and determination. Cuba wants to build her own home and the United States is like, “hey I will help pay for most of it, but in return I am in charge” then the young sister was like, “ah si, pues toma” The United States was like, “fine then, starve” – That puts us at the Embargo Lift. Now the United States being a dutiful older tia, decided that it would be really awful to be rude to her sister’s children, so she decided to welcome those children to her home anytime – the 1966 amnesty act was put into place, or better known as “Wet Foot/Dry Foot” stating that any Cuban that can make it to the U.S. soil is granted automatic citizenship (it takes a year, I think but much less time than any other undocumented group)
There are many sides to this. I have heard of the monstrosities that The Cuba Castro dictators committed on their people. Pulling people from their homes, murder, lifelong imprisonment, families having to flee in the middle of the night without their belongings. So I understand the hate and heated sentiment with lifting the embargo and “shaking hands with a murderous dictator” Then on the flip side of that, I talked to a lot of younger liberal cubans and heard an extension to this. Yes, it is all true but a majority of those were families, were people of wealth. So there is a large part of the Cuban story that did love the same Castro dictator. Those people, felt that he was one of them and was there for the “gente del barrio” not part of the wealthy 1% but rather just one with the people. Yes he provided free health services, but also kept his people on short means with his communist ideals. No internet, no access to outside communications, no means to make more income.
Some people have told me those wealthy Cubans that were run out of Cuba came to Miami and are the current Republican establishment, they resent the embargo lift and feel betrayed that America was dumb enough to believe a murderous dictator. Others tell me that they (as Cubans and Democrats) are in a place of calm solace, moving forward and are starting to close that chapter, never forgetting, but ready to move on. They recognize the devastation that many are still living in and are hopeful for Cuba’s future. It’s a complex topic to say the least.
What I hear that they both agree on, is that 1) Cuba will never be safe so long as Fidel and the Castro brothers are in power and 2) they have a piece of their heart on the island and understand and respect the memories of their families.