27.2.09

H.R. 188: The Cuba Reconciliation Act - Reconciling with Fidel

As one who with over 2 million others has lived in exile much of my life (in my case since since childhood) it's quite difficult not to be swept away by indignation at the so called Cuba Reconciliation Act (H.R. 188). Reconciliation? What exactly changed? Who is sorry and for what are they making amends? Who has apologized or is about to? Castro? The United States? Exiles?

Well, no, critics might respond, just because it's called the Cuba Reconciliation Act doesn't mean anyone is reconciling. Indeed, reconciliation here seems to mean sex without love and with condoms. In any case, if anything goes wrong, abortion is legal both in Cuba and in the US. First however, let's have some sex and in any case in the senate we haven't called it reconciliation (S. 428).

As readers perhaps guessed by the last paragraph, I am a Christian, a Catholic. In my faith we are expected to examine our conscience, to strive to discern right from wrong, to seek forgiveness for wrongs and to forgive those who offend us. Yet, what if those who offend us are not sorry? What if they don't even think they are wrong? What if they don't share your faith or its values and therefore don't agree on what's right and wrong? In a democracy that is imperfectly and temporarily settled with an election or a referendum but what about in the context of US-Cuba relations? On the US end there is a legitimately elected government that decides but on the Cuban end there isn't. What then? Should the US seek reconciliation with an illegitimate representative of the Cuban people? Just what would be just with regard to Cuba?

My critics might stop me right here arguing that such is the wrong question. What matters in their view is not what is just but what is pragmatic, whatever serves the practical interests of US Citizens and presumably (one would think if one was just) Cubans' too. Yet critics might shoot back once again that it's not about being just but about being pragmatic, and in the U.S. that means, being pragmatic about U.S. interests, not necessarily about Cubans'.

Some in the US want to export rice, drill for oil, open hotels like the Spaniards, exercise their 'right' to travel anywhere, etc. They want to preach democracy, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness while financing the opposite in Cuba and remaining credible. Who cares if that means winning others by lying and misinformation, or else demonizing them, while projecting a benevolent and messianic face to the world? Castro has perhaps learned more from this strategy than from any of the Marxist literature from which he ever attempted to draw justification; and like mirror images both are now pragmatically seeking reconciliation.

Their practical interests have converged so to hell with Cubans who in any case can be manipulated so easily. Buy them off with family visits, indemnify some properties and to hell with them. Live and let live. Democracy for the US and a totalitarian tyranny in Cuba: friends at last, like with China and Vietnam, like with Batista.

Thusly they protest and with straight indignant faces. The rights of Castro, family and successors and those of US citizens to travel and make money trump every other consideration. Besides, by opening up to Castro as Cuba, they also argue, the US will be better able to influence him and Cubans. That's how we did it with Batista. What more could the Cuban people want from us anyhow?

Over the next few posts I'll examine these and other arguments for lifting the embargo and reconciling with Fidel.

©Copyright Desde donde estoy en el exilio. All Rights Reserved. May be quoted and/or distributed citing source and URL (Internet address).

©Copyright Desde donde estoy en el exilio. Todos los Derechos Reservados.Puede ser copiado y/o distribuido citando la fuente y el URL (dirección de la página en Internet).

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