Author: Jessica Faroy
Raúl Castro visited New York to address the United Nations General Assembly this past Monday, his first trip to the United States in 56 years. Castro’s speech pushed for the United States-Cuban Thaw in an attempt to end the U.S. economic embargo on the island.
As a Cuban exile, I am hurt.
According to the Obama Administration, the reopened U.S. Embassy in Havana is an attempt to normalize and restore diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba.
As a Cuban exile, I am not fooled.
Growing up in a community of exiles, I started to admire the U.S. more and more; I admired the U.S.’s understanding of the injustice of restricted freedoms and political oppression. I admired the U.S. for giving my family the economic opportunity to possess everything despite starting from nothing. Most of all, I admired the U.S. because it understood Cuba’s wrongs — it understood that human rights are a common necessity, that the economic sector belongs to the people, not the government.
Now, 14 years later, I realize that this country’s hypocrisy is growing. The newly renewed diplomatic relation between Cuba and the U.S. is not an attempt to allow Cuban citizens basic human rights, but rather an attempt to expand the U.S. business sector. With the Castro regime implementing tyrannical, socialist rule, Cubans will neither experience democracy nor economic relief.
Yet in his statement on Cuba policy changes, President Barack Obama still seemed set on shortsighted plans.
“After all, these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked,” Obama said. “It’s time for a new approach.”
These 50 years have also shown that integration does not work. President Obama’s call for a “new approach” is outdated. Foreign governments have recognized the Castro regime, whose governing body is not elected by the people, as legitimate. These foreign interventions have not resulted in democracy or improved livelihoods for Cuban citizens.
Tourism in Cuba is not a new concept. Canadians, Europeans, South Americans and some Cuban-Americans travel annually and provide a primary source of revenue for the island. This global influx of tourism has yet to lift the struggling economy and the Cuban quality of life.
Additionally, foreign businesses in Cuba have proven unsuccessful to both investors and Cuban economy. Salaries are so low that citizens can barely afford alimentation, let alone U.S. commodities. The need for survival does not allow citizens to implement correct business ethics.
Some Cubans have survived the ongoing economic depression through bribes or theft, usually from employers or businesses. The government control of production, foreign stock and the majority of enterprise control does not allow for a free-market enterprise to successfully function. Foreign investors either lose money on Cuban ventures or must to renegotiate terms with the Cuban government.
U.S. businesses and tourists cannot change the economic system of the island. It is impossible to merge American capitalism into a socialist dictatorship. There is a reason the Cuban economy is failing: the Castro regime controls it.
I disagree with U.S.-Cuba relations because as someone that witnessed the power of the Castros, I remain skeptical. The relation between these two countries can succeed only if both countries negotiate. Since the Obama administration announced efforts at easing relations, it is evident no true negotiation is occurring — Cuba is demanding, and the U.S. is succumbing.
In April 2009, the Obama administration publicly announced easing relations with Cuba. Cuba responded by incarcerating Alan Gross, a U.S. contractor visiting Cuba to establish Internet service, eight months later.
In January 2011, the Obama administration loosened Cuban travel restrictions. By the end of December 2011, Cuba responded by releasing 2,900 prisoners from Cuban jails, including foreigners from 25 countries. It did not include Gross.
In December 2014, the U.S. government swapped three remaining Cuban intelligence officers for Gross. The imprisoned spies were convicted of conspiracy to espionage, murder and an attack on two U.S. activist aircrafts. Gross gave internet connection to a small, Jewish community.
Gross is an example of the power the Castro regime is unwilling to give up. If it takes five years of continuous yielding to release an unjustly charged prisoner, who knows what further surrenders the Castro regime may call for.
Cuba’s human rights records makes the new diplomatic relationship all the more concerning. The Castro regime is known to persecute “anti-revolutionaries,” political dissidents against the Castro dictatorship, by sending them to labor camps, prisons or death sentences. The island’s citizens have not experienced the freedom of expression since 1959.
The U.S. government should not offer concessions to a country with a reputation for torture and totalitarianism. Only when liberated and governed by an elected, democratic government should the U.S. end the Cuban embargo.
As Cubans, we are entitled to our government. Only when the Castros are out of power can Cubans, and only Cubans, rightfully decide what changes Cuba wants and needs. It is our responsibility as Cubans to decide what is best for our island.
In the U.S. government, Cuban-Americans on both sides of the aisle have rightfully decided.
In what can only be called a remarkable phenomenon, many Democrats and Republicans of Cuban descent are united in their opposition to U.S.-Cuba negotiations. Cuban-American legislators in Florida and New Jersey both passed resolutions to reject Cuban relations.
“I will fight to defend liberty, because my family knows what it’s like to lose it,” Sen. Ted Cruz said.
I do not expect the supporters of the U.S.-Cuban Thaw to understand betrayal, hardship or injustice; they are neither witnesses nor victims.
As children, they were raised with M&M’s and Hershey’s chocolate.
I was raised with sugar and water.
Jessica Faroy is an undeclared first year. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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