A story from Reuters that was published in The New York Times on its website says that recent new restrictions placed on Cuba by the USA have “gone over well among Cuban Americans in South Florida, a key voting bloc in Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.” The US’s justification for increased sanctions on Cuba is that Cuba is supporting Venezuela, so this stone is meant for two birds, Cuba’s communist system being the other.
There is no question that Belizeans are closer to the American people than they are to the Cuban people. That is a simple matter of history. Both the Americans and the Belizeans are former colonies of the British; our soldiers fought alongside theirs in the two World Wars, and a large percentage of our people have made the US their second home. Belizean students have been studying in the US on scholarships paid for by the American people before Belizean students began studying in Cuba on scholarships paid for by the Cuban people.
We cannot say for sure, but it is possible that Belizeans love the Cuban government more than they love the American government, particularly when the American government is Republican. Belizeans don’t love communism, but they love those with whom Cuba stands — in the Caribbean, the Americas, and Africa. Belizeans hated apartheid in South Africa, and the invasion of Angola by racists.
The vast oil fields of Venezuela figure hugely in the present impasse between the US and Venezuela. Venezuelan governments under Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro are not free market democracies. If Venezuela had a free market, then American companies would have an open field, as they did in Cuba before the 1959 Revolution.
When Venezuela was capitalist, it showed good macro numbers, as Cuba did pre-Revolution, but all wasn’t well on the ground for the masses. Our reports are that the masses in Venezuela did a lot better under the new Bolivarian Republic and Hugo Chavez, until the price of oil dropped.
Returning to Cuba, we have seen American presidents, Jimmy Carter (1976-1980) and Barack Obama (2008-2016), begin to ease the embargo that the United States had placed on the Caribbean island in 1960. The embargo is, effectively, an act of war. The intention of the US is to force the Cubans to return to a free market democracy. We have seen Cuba become more open whenever US pressure is relaxed, and we have seen them circle the wagons to protect their revolution when the US ups the pressure.
In the opening paragraph, we quoted a Reuters story which noted that Cuban Americans are happy that the US increased the pressure on Cuba, and that this plays out well for the US leaders who did it. It apparently doesn’t matter much to Cuban Americans that the people on the island will go through more pain. We wouldn’t expect them to care that Belizean students (and students from other countries south of the Rio Grande) who are studying in Cuba will feel the pain too.
Cuban Americans believe in their cause. Cuba was their home, and it is always a painful thing for people to pull up their roots and make a home in another land, even if that other land is the USA. They left their home because conditions there became unfavorable for them.
Cuba had the kind of GDP that looked good to the world when Fidel Castro came to power, but there were many things wrong with the country, as evidenced by the massive support the Revolution got from the masses. The country was being run by a dictator who was friendly with American gangsters. The income gap was huge. The rich were getting richer, and the poor were getting poorer. The young people were angry and disappointed in their country, in the direction it was going. You don’t have to take it from us. Former American president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK), knew well what caused the Cuban Revolution.
Senator JFK told high-ranking members of the Democratic Party at a dinner on October 6, 1960, that shortsighted policies of the US had turned a friendly nation, Cuba, into a communist base. JFK said that Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista, held a rigged election in 1958, and the Cuban rebels had ended a “brutal, bloody and despotic dictatorship …” JFK said the slogans of the Revolution promised the Cuban people “individual liberty and free elections” and that “they promised an end to harsh police state tactics. They promised a better life for a people long oppressed by both economic and political tyranny.”
JFK said that Cuba became communist-friendly because Cuba’s poor were in desperate need of assistance, but instead of helping them the US sent weapons to prop up the Batista dictatorship.
He said that private American investment did help Cuba, but it also antagonized the Cuban masses because in 1959 US companies “owned about 40 percent of the Cuban sugar lands — almost all the cattle ranches — 90 percent of the mines and mineral concessions — 80 percent of the utilities — and practically all the oil industry — and supplied two-thirds of Cuba’s imports.” (from Papers of John F. Kennedy. Pre-Presidential Papers (jfklibrary.org))
The Cuban government could not live up to their promises on individual liberty and free elections immediately. If they had, the people they overthrew would have walked right back in. When he became president, JFK fought Castro’s government to rid the country of communism.
Not many in our part of the world embrace communism. What we have in our part of the world are millions of desperate people, and the capitalism being forced on us creates states similar to the one run by Batista. The Cuban Americans want their revenge, it is good business for some US politicians, and the Cuban people are punished. The fact is that Cuban Americans supported or turned a blind eye on a repressive regime, and one day the masses of the Cuban people got tired and revolted.
The lesson here is for Belizean leaders and those who would gobble up the bulk of the nation’s resources. A free market is good only when good governments ensure that the masses get a fair share of the national pie. That isn’t happening in Belize today. When the masses absolutely can’t take any more punishment, there is bloody revolution.