According to news reports, we, as Americans, are finally going to start getting along with Cuba. Apparently, I’m now on speaking terms with the denizens of the island nation off the coast of Florida. This is news to me: I don’t ever remember ceasing communications to begin with.
I apologize in advance if this comes across like an ideological rant, but I feel it’s important to step back and realize exactly what’s going on here. The politicians, pundits, and news media outlets would have us believe that this is a great coming together of peoples, setting aside their differences at long last. Don’t be fooled. All this means is that the U.S. and Cuban governments are considering ending their criminalization of honest friendship and trade.
Make no mistake: there was never any great rift between the Cuban and American peoples. That was a lie perpetrated by the governments of each respective nation in order to justify their conflict. There is no voluntary citizen embargo. There never was a unanimous people’s decision not to travel between the countries. There were only government mandates, people’s will be damned. A select few deciding personal and business relationships between hundreds of millions of people, based on their own petty disagreements.
And yet, even when we are finally moving past all this, there are still those who push for maintaining severed U.S.-Cuba ties. Set aside for a moment the rhetoric about safety, national interest, and sending the wrong signals to dictators. These people are saying you can’t be friends or business associates with whole collectives of people. And if you try, they will stop you by force. They will show up to your business meetings armed and force you to disband. They will force your planes to stay grounded and keep your ships from setting sail. And they will shoot you if you resist. All because they believe it is their moral right to force entire peoples into pointless enmity.
I’m not saying violent dictators should be ignored. There is an appropriate response to oppressive governments. If they send armed forces to kill, destroy, and occupy, those forces should be crushed with an iron fist. Even in that case, though, the peoples of the respective nations should be free to engage in whatever peaceful relations they see fit.
I am willing to have relationships with the whole world. I buy from a Russian, have tea with a North Korean, sell to an Iranian, and form a friendship with a Cuban. I don’t care what the U.S. federal government says; they don’t represent me.