Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

History, Race and the Cuban Equation

Expand Messages
  • Walter Lippmann
    (Even DeWayne Hickham feels that he must put an obligatory swipe at the Cuban Revolution into is essay for it to be taken seriously . Other than that,
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 1, 2002
    • 0 Attachment
      (Even DeWayne Hickham feels that
      he must put an obligatory swipe at
      the Cuban Revolution into is essay
      for it to be taken "seriously". Other
      than that, however, it's quite good.)

      05/22/2002�-�Updated�07:20 PM�ET

      History, race must be factored
      into Cuban equation
      by DeWayne Hickham

      MIAMI � Cuba is just 90 miles off the
      southern tip of Florida. But the distance
      between this country and the one that Fidel
      Castro has ruled for the past 43 years can be
      best measured in terms of warped history, not

      When President Bush came to Miami on
      Monday to take part in the celebration of what
      organizers called the 100th anniversary of
      Cuba's independence from Spain, virtually no
      one challenged this misread of history � or
      its impact on the troubled relations between
      these two countries.

      Back in 1902, it was the United States, not
      Spain that dominated life in Cuba. Spain's
      colonial control of the Caribbean island had
      been effectively ended three years earlier by
      the Spanish American War. By 1899,
      American imperialism had replaced Spanish
      colonialism as the controlling force in Cuba.

      The U.S. occupation ended in 1902, but not
      before Congress imposed two concessions
      on the new Cuban government. It was forced
      to grant Washington the right to intervene in
      Cuban affairs and to cede control of
      Guantanamo Bay to the U.S. military. Franklin
      Roosevelt voided the intervention agreement
      in 1934, but the American occupation of
      Guantanamo Bay continues today.

      So ironically, the Cuban-American celebration
      of a century of Cuban independence also
      marks 100 years of uninterrupted control of a
      valuable piece of the Cuban nation by the
      United States.

      Even more remarkable, Bush � who is hardly
      a student of history � parrots the call of
      Florida's Cuban exile leaders for "a return of
      democracy" to Cuba, a country that has been
      ruled by dictators, despots, Mafia front men
      and communists for nearly all of the past
      century. Shortly after Fulgencio Batista,
      Castro's predecessor, seized control of Cuba
      in a military coup in 1952 his picture appeared
      on the cover of Time magazine with a caption
      that called him the man who "got by
      democracy's sentries."

      Many of the people who fled Cuba when
      Castro came to power in 1959 were the
      beneficiaries of Batista's bloody rule. Largely
      white, they were the middle class of his
      dictatorship and benefited greatly from a class
      structure that afforded Afro Cubans few rights
      and relegated them to the lowest rungs of
      Cuban society.

      Unfortunately, Bush doesn't know this bit of
      history. He is instead imbued with the belief
      that the revolution Castro led ousted a
      democratic government. Bush's warped
      sense of Cuban history � and his desire to
      help his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, win
      re-election in November � blinds him to the
      truth. By calling for a return of democracy to
      Cuba, the president courts the
      Cuban-American voters his brothers is
      depending on to help him win a second term.

      But his pandering is shortsighted.

      There is little chance the political stalemate
      that has defined U.S.-Cuban relations for
      more than four decades will end soon if the
      leaders of this country don't understand the
      history of our relationship with Cuba and the
      true nature of the democracy struggle on that

      Most people in Cuba are of African descent.
      Most Cuban Americans are not. Long after
      Castro passes from the scene, the struggle
      between these two groups will continue to
      undermine U.S.-Cuban relations if they are not
      taken into account by those who truly want to
      end the current impasse.

      While Cuban exile leaders pine for a return to
      their ancestral home, many people of African
      descent in Cuba say they will never let that
      happen. Understanding this rift is as
      important in resolving the political standoff
      between the United States and Cuba as is the
      ideological tug-of-war between the communist
      state and this country's demands for Castro to
      undertake democratic reforms.

      For George W. Bush and the Cuban
      Americans he panders to, Fidel Castro is the
      roadblock to normal relations between Cuba
      and the United States. But just across the
      Florida straits, millions of Cubans of African
      descent have a far better understanding of the
      events that unfolded over the past century.
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.