May 20, 1902
One hundred and eight years ago to this day the U.S. government turned control of Cuba to a handful of legally approved Cubans of their liking and walked out of the island. Well, sort of. Their presence remained through the unpopular Platt Amendment, which the Cubans had no choice but to add to their shiny new U.S.-style constitution or risk becoming absorbed as another island state. It was a glorious day for Cubans, as they now supposedly had what they had wanted for over a century; Spain out and Cubans in. Never mind that the already established plans for a Cuban government based on the work of Martí and others had to be abandoned for a “more American” model. It was also a glorious day for the Americans, who got to play the nice-guy card while still keeping a handful of new territories while showing the world there’s “a new Sheriff in town…” What followed in Cuba over the next thirty years may have been the plot of a Marx Brothers movie, with relatively poor men entering the presidency and becoming rich before leaving. There was no better way to make yourself rich in Cuba throughout this era than politics, as business seemed to be profiting mostly Americans and some Spanish. The peaceful stability so desired by American interests finally emerged in the form of a poor sergeant named Fulgencio Batista, who, miraculously entered the field as a poor man and left it with suitcases filled (quite literally) with millions. The American Mob seemed to show up in Cuba at about the same time, though they’d been partying in Havana for a few years already when the idea for a Latin Las Vegas popped up. When the Revolution booted Batista and the Mob and other U.S. “interests” out of Cuba, a new era of hostilities began, complete with CIA lies, military invasions, idiotic assassination attempts and more posturing than all the Poetry Slams ever held in the Bay Area combined. Until the fall of the Soviets in the early 1990s, it was possible to “somewhat” understand U.S. aggression and support for terrorists such as Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch. But since the fall of the Soviets, there has been no excuse, other than “bad habits are hard to break” (a real excuse; just ask anyone who is still smoking cigarettes) or “to crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women,” as the California governor once said on film. Today there’s no reason for President Obama to maintain that awful and embarrassing embargo. It seems that ending the embargo will likely have to be done during a 2nd term… Does anyone actually think that the embargo has helped the cause of freedom anywhere on any level? One hundred and eight years after the U.S. supposedly walked out of Cuba, the arrogant assumption that the island must be controlled by Americans still remains. I wish someone would send President Obama an email asking him to please wake up and smell the 21st century, and leave that outdated throwback to 19th century imperialism behind. Peace.