Water under the bridge?

The poor execution of the new Cuban relations harms families.

Zurich Lewis, Writer

Cuba has been referred to as the “Pearl of the Antilles” for hundreds of years since its Spanish Colonization. Much like our own country, its people revolted against its European royalty to gain independence, with American help. In the years after the war, our economies were closely linked with 90 percent of Cuban exports, mainly tobacco and sugar, landing on American shores. The United States, mostly through private sector businesses, invested a large amount of resources into the Cuban economy — not surprising given our protectorship over the island at the turn of the century. For most of the 1900s, the educated in Cuban society received their education in America and primarily subscribed to American thought and culture. Then in 1959, Fidel Castro and the communists seized power by killing dissidents. All direct relations with Cuba stopped and the Cold War only intensified the chill in the waters between the two nations. That was over 55 years ago.


Today, the American government is thawing their relationship with Cuba and has agreed to ease banking and travel restrictions and to remove Cuba from the List of State Sponsors of Terrorism. With these major policy concessions, U.S. only got in return the conditional release of some political prisoners some which have been rumored to be recaptured. This does not include a commitment to a guarantee of free expression on the island, expansion of human rights, allowance of free elections nor does this even include an apology for encouraging international terrorism. All in all, the U.S. gets nothing. We capitulated.

My mother and grandparents came to America in 1968 fleeing the Castro regime. They came here and made a great life for themselves. I am grateful for this blessing, and so are my relatives still in Cuba who receive the occasional gift from us. They do not have it easy in a communist country. They cannot say what they think. They cannot buy more than is rationed for them. They cannot sell in a free market. If the government decides they want to use their house for something, they will simply take it with little to no compensation. The most beautiful beaches and the best shops are strictly for tourists. Even through all this, they manage to persevere and keep a strong family bond.


I believe we need to normalize relations with Cuba. The embargo policies of the Cold War are outdated, but to lift them without even a promise from the oppressive communist regime is egregiously inhumane and irresponsible. We cannot trust a government that continues to harbor international terrorists and subvert current sanctions by trading weapons with North Korea and China to agree to any deal. The Cuban Government is, and will be, State Sponsors of Terror domestically and abroad.


During a dinner here at Biola, I asked Congressman Ed Royce, R-Fullerton, House Foreign Affairs Chairman, what he believes is the best course of action on Cuba. After blasting the administration, he detailed how the Cuban government fraudulently converts foreign money earned by a Cuban citizen into a much smaller amount of actual cash so the regime keeps 95 percent of the actual value. If the Cuban government allowed private contracts, each Cuban citizen would have more economic power in their hands and out of the communist regime’s hands.

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio of Florida, as a son of Cuban immigrants, has taken a hard stance against President Obama’s normalization by saying we are being “taken advantage of.”

This is just one in a long line of precedents the Obama Administration has set in which we freely negotiate with rogue states easily giving in to their demands. The Cubans are hurting, and none of the dollars the embargo lift brings will fall into their hands. With this one-sided deal strengthening the Communist grip on power, my family hurts even more.


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