After almost fifty years in power, Fidel Castro has resigned as dictator of Cuba. (I know he is officially called "president," but it is more correct to refer to him as a dictator.) For many this is good news. Castro has ruined that wonderful country; and even though the Cuban government blames the U.S. embargo on their economic woes (and no doubt, it has hurt), Cuba has had and continues to have plenty of trading partners including countries in Europe, and South America. Cuba is a mess, not primarily because of the embargo, but because Communism doesn't work.
Of course, it needs to be mentioned that the Communist Revolution was made possible in Cuba because of the ruthless reign of Fulgencio Batista, who was not a Communist, but a dictator who was supported by the United States. How true it is that when people are being oppressed, imprisoned, and murdered by their government, they will follow anyone who offers hope for deliverance, whether that person comes from the Left or the Right. Oppression is oppression, whether it is Leftist or Fascist.
Castro's brother Raul now officially takes the reins, although he has been in charge for some time. In some ways, he is more of a hard-liner than his brother, but in other ways he has appeared more open, but what he does not have is his brother's charisma. Raul himself is no "spring chicken." Things could get really interesting when his brother either cedes power, either through health issues or his own demise. While the overwhelming majority of Cuban citizens want to see a change toward democracy, there is a also a new generation of committed Lefties in the Cuban parliament and in other offices of government.
Regardless of how this plays out, one thing definitely needs to happen. The United States needs to loosen its hard-line stance and begin a dialogue with the Cuban government. There are enough people in Cuba who want to have some kind of working relationship with the United States, that it is entirely possible to draw Cuba toward the United States and away from Venezuela and its two-bit dictator, Hugo Chavez.
Moreover, the embargo needs to be lifted gradually. The infrastructure of Cuba is so outdated and in such disrepair, that a sudden flood of American tourists and American trading partners would overwhelm that tiny island country. To allow initially for limited tourism and investment would present an opportunity for Cuba for modernize the country and prepare for normal trade relations with the United States.
The embargo is an outdated tool of the Cold War. It is time to move beyond it. How inconsistent it is for the United States to accept Communist China as a trading partner, giving it favored nation status, in the hope that a free market China will open the way for democracy in that country, and yet, when it comes to Cuba, the U.S. government has taken a completely different approach.
While it is premature to get too excited about the possibility of sweeping change in Cuba, it is also true that with Fidel's official exit, and the aging and graying of the Communist stalwarts in Cuba, there is now an opportunity. If the United States takes a different course of action, and if there are enough persons in the Cuban government open to change, at some point, we Americans may be visiting a free and democratic Cuba.
I would welcome that day!
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Cross-Posted at RedBlueChristian