By Jordan Raitses
Cuba has been our fiercest enemy in the ongoing Cold War against the damned Soviet menace (not that it ended 30 years ago or anything). The brutal war-hardened savages of this peaceful Latin American country have long cast a menacing shadow across the mere 100-mile-straight between Us and Them. Breaking our resolve with their infamous cigars and an abundance of doctors, the Cubans [read: Red Menace] gave us no choice but to place an embargo on all trade with their country. To this day, they have fought back with a decaying infrastructure as their major source of GDP transitions to tourism and resource export. If only the savages would capitulate and return to sweet sweet capitalism, we would maybe stop housing our prisoners of war (especially the ones we torture) on their shores. However, Obama—the pansy-hearted liberal that he is—has indicated that we may be giving up! This is America, home of the Brave and land of the Free!
In all seriousness, this is a great international relations move (for once) for our President. The Cuban people are under an oppressive dictatorship that doesn’t get enough coverage in the United States because it is largely invisible to us. This island of statist rule is almost entirely cordoned off from the average American person and thus there is no outrage, just a light simmering from escaped Cubans and Canadian tourists who wandered off their resorts.
Human rights organizations have long criticized Cuba’s government, calling it out for what it is: a neo-Leninist dictatorship. Cuba has over 200 work camps—that’s right, work camps—and approximately 170 political prisoners, with more facing harassment and intimidation outside of official jail time. The press is hit worst of all as Cuba is only surpassed by China in number of imprisoned journalists. Let that sink in for a moment: China, with a population of about 1.3 billion, is the only country with more imprisoned journalists than the island nation of Cuba. It is no surprise that there are over 400,000 have migrated to the United States since the ‘80s.
Of course, we have yet to address the economic woes of the Cuban people. It is a shining example of communism and socialism in full effect. The state controls the economy—badly—and the people suffer for it. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba has had a shortage of basically everything (especially industrial materials). As a result, Cuba is actually a leader in organic farming techniques due to their lacking the capability to produce pesticides… so I guess there’s that. Since the ‘90s, Cuba has developed at a stunted pace (certainly not helped by the American trade embargo), but recent increases in tourism and a relaxation of government regulations have finally given the Cuban people a breath of hope.
Tl;dr: the Cuban people have it rough, but it’s getting better.
While Obama’s motion towards restoring international relations with Cuba may seem like giving up— that is an idiotic way of looking at it: these people need our trade and maybe, just maybe an international spotlight on human rights violations that may lead to some change.