Tuesday, August 18, 2015

US Cuba policy is already working ... by gimleteye

The other night on the Malecon in Havana, a crowd was entertained by a young Cuban fisherman who had hooked a good sized grouper casting from shore. The grouper had not only taken off to hide down below in a rock, a couple of hundred yards away, the fisherman's two part pole -- an expensive one by Cuban standards -- had separated and the escaping fish had caused the upper half of the pole to disappear as if it were on a zip line into the darkness. Much hilarity ensued as the fisherman swore at the fish and pondered his next move. The crowd cheered and applauded as he stripped and jumped into the dark sea, following his taut and motionless fishing line, out into the pitch black bay to retrieve -- what? -- his pole or the fish or both?

When I heard this story, it resonated instantly as a parable of what is happening in Cuba today.

After half a century of oppression, the government of Cuba has let some of the pressure off the reel that kept the Cuban people tight against its frame. This is the result of a) the awareness of an aging dictatorship and a new generation of leaders that change is the only immutable fact of life, and b) the willingness of the Obama White House to adjust US foreign policy to Cuba.

In the United States the GOP, including primary presidential contenders Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, are married to the idea of turning the clock back. While they huff and puff, changes in American foreign policy are already having an intended effect in Cuba. As a friend reminded me last night, Ronald Reagan didn't bring down the Berlin Wall: blue jeans and rock and roll did.

The hilarity on the Malecon shorefront, whether anyone understood the parable or not, was how the question would be answered: would the fisherman in his underwear return or be eaten by a shark, would he return with top half of his valuable fishing rod and/or would he bring back the fish?

In the parable, it is the Cuban government who is the fisherman and it is the Cuban people who have taken off at the end of the line.

Since the thaw in relations between the US and Cuba, internet hotspots have been popping up all over the island. The hunger of the Cuban people for information about what is happening in the rest of the world is unquenchable. Oppression in Cuba continues, harming individuals and society, as it does in many socialist dictatorships with whom America does business. The thaw in US-Cuba relations, in other words, has already let a little of the toothpaste out of the tube, and there is no putting it back again.

What comes next is anyone's guess, but it is not up to the Miami Cubans to decide. It is for the Cuban people to take up with their government, a government whose principals do understand how deeply broken the economy is. This likely will not be a negotiation visible to the world.

There is change on the horizon in Cuba, and it will be massive change.

The parable of the Malecon ended with the fisherman safely back on shore to general applause with the upper half of his fishing rod. So it will be with the government of Cuba. To make the rod whole, he had to cut the fish free. Somewhere in Havana Bay there is a grouper trailing a hook and line from its sore lip.

It is possible, in honestly assessing possible outcomes to this parable, the fish was too injured and will be eaten by a shark, but I prefer a happier ending. Better times are ahead for Cuba's younger generation who are ready and capable of bringing their nation into the 21st century world economy, their own way.


Anonymous said...

Outstanding article. Change is coming and, yes, a happy ending would be preferred.

Cheo of Westchester said...

I Like Happy Endings, but I though they were related to messages, not fishing.

Castro's in their 80s (Fidel pushing 90) somethings gott give sooner rather than later. This Cuban-American NPA thinks US making mostly right moves on Cuba. Nothings perfect.

Anonymous said...

"It is not for the Miami Cubans to decide". You may be surprised to learn that a large number of Cuban Americans (yours included) living in Miami and throughout the world, are very pleased with the latest change in U.S.-Cuba policy. In fact, many Cuban exiles would prefer the U.S. embargo lifted; Helms-Burton law repealed; wet-dry foot law presidential decree abolished and the rightful return of Guantanamo Base to Cuba since the 100 year lease on the base expired over a decade ago and we are occupying an area in a foreign land whose government has repeatedly asked us to vacate.
Of course, it will be up to the Cuban government to cease the arrest of hundreds of dissidents for simply requesting the same rights some take for granted in our great nation. We will see what happens in the future but I have little faith on a government that has executed thousands, encarcerated hundreds of thousands, forced into exile millions and destroyed an island whose economy outperformed several European nations in 1958. Most Miami Cubans are already aware that the destruction of families, lost relatives and the theft of even the most menial of properties by a government of anarchists cannot be undone; however, for the sake of Cuba and its future generations we are hoping for the best.

whatmeworry? said...

Very thoughtful article. I agree and hope for the best for my native country. I remain optimistic that with time, and from within the youth, will come forth the strength and leadership to bring Cuba forward out of the shadows of the Castro brothers and Communism.