As with pretty much any news story that comes out of the capitalist media, there is so much misinformation and half truths, that this post can hopefully clear up a lot of confusion about what did and didn't happen this week. First, people shouldn't get confused about the difference between the window dressing type of changes Obama's administration can implement using the so-called executive privilege. The 52 year economic blockade that restricts nations from engaging in trade with Cuba as well citizens from many countries, including the U.S., from engaging the island, was set up to attempt to cripple and starve the country into abandoning it's socialist path and principles. Clearly that strategy has failed, but the blockade is U.S. law and although I have absolutely no faith in any U.S. legal proceedings on any level, it is a fact that the Rico-Petricelli bill/law of 1996 (the most recent hardened amendment to the economic blockade) would require a congressional vote in order to bring down the blockade, so without that, all you are really talking about is some face lift changes such as (maybe) how some people can get to Cuba. Or, you could be looking at no substantive changes to policy at all, but this is hardly the point worth talking about.
It's important to realize that despite the fact most people in the world have been programmed to see the U.S./Cuba relationship as being 100% defined by the U.S., this is not the case presently and I would argue it's never been the case since the Cuban Revolution celebrated victory in January of 1959. In fact, this latest announcement is nothing more than Cuba demonstrating it's ability to continue to outsmart it's capitalist super power neighbor to the north. Instead of focusing on the propaganda statements from the Obama administration, you should be paying attention to Cuban Secretary General Raul Castro's statement last week. He said that Cuba has always been willing and interested in having a respectful dialogue with the U.S. He reminded us all that Cuba sought such a dialogue with all 11 U.S. presidents - from Eisenhower to Obama, since the beginning of the Cuban Revolution, but that it has been the U.S. that has remained against having any relations. He reminded us that not only did the U.S. remain against having any forward progress, but in the last 52 years, the U.S. has attempted to assassinate Cuban leaders dozens of times, engineered an unsuccessful attempt to invade Cuba in 1961, imposed the blockade which has crippled Cuba's ability to trade for products needed such as medicines, and continued to support terrorist attempts by criminal elements from Miami to illegally overthrow the Cuban Revolution. Castro concluded his remarks by stating in clear terms again that Cuba welcomes discussions with the U.S., but any discussions can only exist with the U.S. respecting Cuba's commitment to continue to move towards developing it's socialist objective leading to communism.
While you soak in Castro's last statement, place those words in context of actual U.S./Cuban relations over this period of time. There is absolutely no question that Cuba has demonstrated it's commitment to principles and those principles include a dedication to supporting African liberation. In fact, as African revolutionaries, we will declare that Cuba has proven to be one of the best allies we have. Were it not for Cuba's commitment to justice, all of Southern Africa today would possibly be under racist apartheid rule. In the 1980s, the Cubans responded when the settler colonists attempted to expand their control beyond Azania (South Africa) and Zimbabwe to take over Angola, Mozambique, and Namibia. Over a ten year period, that small, poor, Caribbean nation sent over 40,000 troops to fight in Southern Africa and they played a major role in beating back the racist plan to take over all of Southern Africa. It was during this same time that Cuba, following the initiative of Che Guevara's guerrilla effort in the Congo in 1964, established military training and support for the righteous guerrilla effort in Guinea-Bissau to overthrow colonialism there. Victor Dreke Cruz, an African from Cuba, served as Cuba's military command in Africa for years, helping to beat back imperialism. Cruz was on assignment in Africa on direct orders from Raul Castro who was then Cuba's chief military officer.
So, don't be so quick to believe all the thinking here is being dictated by Washington. The Cubans are no creampuffs. You can bet that they have a clear strategy for anything they do involving the U.S. after decades of seeing the U.S. support and harbor terrorists like Luis Posada Carilles - the mastermind behind shooting down the Cuban airplane where 77 people died in the 70s. Cuba knows they cannot trust anything the U.S. proposes. If they sit down and talk with imperialism, they will be prepared. They have proven this understanding by their actions since the 1950s. Raul Castro, along with Fidel, Juan Almeida, Che, and others, first outsmarted U.S. intelligence forces in the mid 50s by convincing them and Mexican officials to release them from a Mexico City jail. Once released, they immediately initiated the Cuban revolutionary war against U.S. imperialist interests in Cuba. Once victorious in 1959, Cuba again established it's ability to out think U.S. leaders. When Kennedy's regime thought they could undermine the new young Cuban leadership by preventing them from gaining access to accommodations at the New York United Nations building complex in 1960 - an area that is supposed to be international space - the Cuban delegation, led by Fidel Castro, one upped the capitalist regime by taking the entire delegation up to Harlem to stay at the African-owned Hotel Theresa where Fidel had a 30 minute private meeting with Malcolm X. That the leader of a newly victorious revolutionary government could travel to an oppressed community of African people in the U.S. and meet with a respected leader in that community, when the U.S. government acknowledged none of that, was an embarrassment to U.S. credibility worldwide. The trend continued the following year when the Cuban's routed the 1500 member invading army of so-called Cuban exiles in Playa Del Giron (imperialists call it the Bay of Pigs). Again, embarrassment for U.S. imperialism. This trend was furthered yet again the following year when Cuba's militancy pushed the Soviet Union to place nuclear missiles in Cuba that were pointed at the U.S. This act, along with Cuba's unwillingness to flinch, gave fortitude to the Soviets that more than likely would not have been there otherwise. Castro's commitment and desire to launch the weapons, or at least his ability to convince the U.S. of such, played a decisive role in helping the Soviets negotiate the removal of U.S. nuclear missiles pointed at the U.S.S.R. from Turkey and Italy. Another victory for Cuba. Fast forward to 1980 when the Carter regime decided to initiate a propaganda campaign against human rights in Cuba by criticizing Cuba's treatment of a number of incarcerated persons in Cuba. The U.S. neglected to mention that the convicts in question were hardened and easily convicted criminals whose removal from Cuban streets illustrates Cuba's commitment to the safety of it's society (and the reason why Cuba today is so much safer than it's surrounding neighbor countries can claim). Castro's response to Carter's criticism was the Mariel boat lift all the criminals in question from Cuba to Florida, about 125 of them which led to the influx of these hardened criminals into U.S. society. Of course, after Carter's criticism, the U.S. had no choice except to accept these criminal elements. The presence of these people in Florida led to increased crime rates in that part of the country which are still felt today. In fact, the fictionalized account of this incident is displayed in the Al Pacino movie "Scarface." The movie opens with actual footage of Castro announcing the boat lift and the political reasons for it.
Cuba's unique ability to outsmart the U.S. continued through the 90s and 2000s with examples such as the 1994 raft "escape" from Cuba to Florida which ended up being another way for Cuba to unload people unwilling to contribute to the revolution to the Elian Gonzalez episode that ended up being another propaganda coup for Cuba. As previously mentioned, after last week's so-called announcement, some well meaning people worried about the safety of Sister Assata Shakur - a terrorist to imperialist interests and a revolutionary heroine to the righteous people on Earth. New Jersey police terrorists went immediately to work calling for Assata to be handed over to U.S. authorities, but these people have no understanding of the Cuban Revolution. Unlike the U.S. - who lies all the time, the Cubans have kept their word on everything from military assistance in Africa to doctors being sent to Africa, South America, and even U.S. ghettos that are short on medical personnel. The reality is Assata is safer today and tomorrow in Cuba, despite whatever political changes take place, than most Africans living with the threat of police terrorism and violence associated with the poverty and despair of capitalism in the U.S.
Finally, it is important to express some simple facts about socialist development in Cuba. Most people in the U.S. know only what is provided to them by U.S. capitalist propaganda mechanisms. As a result, most people have absolutely no understanding of socialism, what it is, how it works, how to identify it, how to critique and assess it. Developing those skills takes time as doing so requires active study and travel to genuine socialist societies like Cuba. It requires understanding these important questions from a critical standpoint of scientific analysis. There is a need to understand data to tell the story beyond the (possibly) well intentions of people who maybe know someone from Cuba, or had a particular experience in Cuba, or lived there themselves, etc. The problem with relying on these subjective perspectives of socialist development is that people as individuals haven't lived long enough to understand the forces that make up society. We typically understand and interpret these forces based strictly on how we are affected on a personal level. This is what makes it primarily subjective. The proof of this is the fact that all of us know countless people who have lived in the U.S. their entire lives, yet these people have absolutely no understanding of the political realities in the U.S. There are plenty of people here who will tell you there is no problem of police terrorism or racism here in this country. So, this should demonstrate to you that someone living in a country alone cannot be enough to certify them as experts of what's happening in that country. This is certainly true of socialist development in Cuba. Especially since it's such a different society than this capitalist one and we are so programmed to view things only through the capitalist lense. In Cuba, approximately 70% of the population there has been born since the Cuban Revolution. That means seven out of 10 people there have never lived without free health care and education. They have never lived in a society where employment wasn't a priority. They have never lived in a place where material incentives are more important than moral ones. When I traveled to Cuba, doing research for my Master's thesis, I talked to dozens of people. I didn't meet one person who wanted to give up free health care for an insurance premium and deductibles. I didn't meet one person who said they preferred student loan debt to free education. Does Cuba have work to do? Is there a need for increased improvements around how to deal with dissidents in the country? Absolutely! But, they will improve in those areas. Their socialist system, which prioritizes people over profit, is working to that end. Plus, anyone who thinks about it has to admit that the best way to increase consciousness is to provide free quality education. That's a guarantee that in time, attitudes will change for the better. An example of this in Cuba is their increasing tolerance of the LGBTQ community. This is a Caribbean country with a machismo history. Yet, Mariela Castro - the Director of Social Services in Cuba - and the daughter of Raul Castro and the late Vilma Espin (the founder of the Federation of Cuban Women), was able to state in a public address recently that Cuba is dedicated to making social space and resources to help support its LGBTQ folks. For a public official in a Caribbean country to make a statement like this is unheard of. It certainly hasn't happened in Haiti, or Puerto Rico, or Jamaica. In fact, it hasn't even happened in the U.S. We could go on and on with more examples. We could talk about how the U.S. responded to the so-called Ebola outbreak in West Africa by sending hundreds of military personnel. Cuba responded by sending hundreds of doctors (which forced the U.S. to do the same to avoid another crippling embarrassment at the hands of the Cubans).
Don't worry about Cuba and don't assume the U.S. is pulling all the strings. One important fact that was buried in this week's announcement is the fact Cuba secured the release of three of the Cuban Five. These were five Cubans who were living in the U.S. working to develop information on the terrorist activities of the criminal elements in Florida. They were arrested and convicted on trumped up charges. U.S. officials had maintained steadfastly that these five courageous Cubans would never be released from prison, yet three of them are safely back in Cuba. Sounds like yet another victory for Cuba.
So, for those who swear any opening of relationships means the end of the Cuban Revolution, I'll admit this will create new challenges in Cuba, but anyone thinking socialism in Cuba will fall because of whatever happens with the U.S., you can have your CIA, your terrorist/criminal thug Alpha 66, Omega 7, your Cuban American National Foundation type terrorist/lobbying groups, and whatever else you want...Anyone thinking socialism is on it's way out in Cuba today - I'm taking bets.