Represión – Cuba – Repression

Politicians still naive, or manipulative, on Cuba

Politicians still naive, or manipulative, on Cuba
BY FABIOLA SANTIAGO
fsantiago@MiamiHerald.com

“I wish every Cuban back in Cuba could spend a day walking around Miami
and see what you have built here, how you have turned this city into a
dynamic global city. … It would not take them long to start demanding
similar opportunities and achieving similar success back in Cuba.” —
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, on Friday in Miami-Dade.

I know naïveté when I hear it — and although Hillary Clinton’s campaign
speech Friday in Miami eloquently supported engagement and argued for
the United States to lift the 54-year-old embargo on Cuba, it also was a
window into how easily Americans misfire on Cuban issues.

For decades, Cubans on the island have come in droves, seen Miami, liked
it — and stayed.

Their aspiration when they see our glitzy skyline, hear homey Spanish
chatter on the streets, feel the vibe of their culture in our
Americanized hands, is not to return to Cuba carrying entrepreneurship
and civic lessons with fight in their hearts.

It’s to become part of the mosaic that makes this the most unique city
in America.

A recent American poll taken on the island would back me up on that:
Most Cubans said that if they had a choice, they’d rather live in the
United States more than any place else in the world.

Can we keep the conversation on U.S.-Cuba policy real, please?

Ignorance gives me the shivers, makes me remember horrible things like
the taking of a 6-year-old child at gun-point from a home in Little
Havana, as if there had been no other way to return a boy to his father
in Cuba.

Not that I want to look backward to the Bill Clinton years of Cuba
policy, but there’s much to be learned from that era.

There is much to like in Hillary Clinton’s speech. She didn’t give the
Castros an inch, condemning human-rights violations. And her theory on
the merits of lifting the embargo is as good as any and a testament to
her on-the-job experience as secretary of state.

It is, however, missing the Cuban reaction factor.

So far, the most assured response from Cuba since President Barack
Obama’s historic policy shift in December has been more Cubans leaving
the island — not exactly the vote of confidence Americans were expecting.

Not a week goes by that a raft or a boat doesn’t wash ashore somewhere
in South Florida or is interdicted by the Coast Guard at sea. Cubans
also are crossing the Mexican border in record numbers. Large groups
recently have been caught and arrested in Central America trying to make
the seven-country cross from Ecuador to Texas. Half the Cuban hockey
team defected in Canada last week. Talk about historic: that would be
the largest group of athletes to ever do so.

I don’t hear Cuban leader Raúl Castro complaining; he just looks the
other way as more of the disaffected choose to leave rather than see
what rapprochement might mean to them.

It should all sound familiar to Clinton, who was in the White House in
1994-95: 35,000 Cubans at sea; Guantánamo tent-cities; wet-foot,
dry-foot policy; Elián.

None of that was addressed, but it should have been. That history is the
backdrop to the new times.

Lucky for her candidacy, the potholes on American policy toward Cuba are
bipartisan.

Democrat or Republican, anti or pro embargo, not one politician manages
to hit a balanced note that rings true in Cuban Miami, a city where
people experience the immediate repercussions of whatever is afoot in Cuba.

Presidential candidate Jeb Bush, reacting to Clinton’s embargo speech on
Friday, only added a terrible footnote, worse than anything Clinton said
in her speech.

“It’s insulting to many Miami residents for Hillary to come here to
endorse a retreat in Cuba’s struggle for democracy,” Bush said in a
statement. “This city has become a home and a refuge to thousands and
thousands of Castro’s victims.”

The struggle for democracy is at the heart of the rapprochement policy
that a growing number of Cuban Americans, including Republicans, do
support. So that statement is a pants-on-fire lie. But what’s even more
unacceptable to freedom-loving Cuban Americans is Bush’s implication
that Miamians can’t be open to hearing a different point of view.

Clinton may have selective memory. But Bush pulls the old, ugly
emotional chain of all the former Bush eras. No results, only rhetoric
to keep the wound of loss open — and the Republican votes coming.

We might not be able to change Cuba, but Miami has changed.

The Cuban palm trees were transplanted long ago, and they’ve flourished
here in excess, lining more acreage than they ever did in Cuba’s famed
Palmar de Junco. But Miami, misunderstood and miscast as it is, is still
a part of the United States — and the principles of free speech apply
here, too.

Demagogues need not exempt us.

Source: Fabiola Santiago: Politicians still naive, or manipulative, on
Cuba | Miami Herald –
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/fabiola-santiago/article29708983.html

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