Cuba Libre

Cuba’s history began when Christopher Columbus, after partially sailing around its endless coastline, pronounced it to be the mainland of Cathay (China). He never set foot on mainland North America. As a late-late comer, British/USA North America’s history in some ways parallels and intersects with that of Cuba’s. Both nations exploited human beings and immersed the importance of that exploitation in telling the story of their evolution. Both tales are black, white and grey in substance; those involved are also Black, White and other people of varied combinations of ethnicity.

The jubilant scenes in Miami’s Little Havana, celebrating the demise of Fidel Castro, probably resemble those throughout the Confederacy after the Lincoln assassination. The celebrants in both cases were deprived of status, property and dominion over other humans. In Cuba’s case, the iron chains long had been lifted from the human chattel, but the social and economic restraints still were well in evidence. As a matter of fact, that is a part of the panoply of events that led to the rise of the Castroites.

Cuban President Fulgencio Batista had permitted U.S. gambling and other tourist-attraction interests’ carte blanche in Havana’s hotels, gin mills and brothels. All of this was at the expense of the Cuban people, whose roll it was to support this foreign takeover. In the meantime, the Guajiros in the mountains were going unfed and uneducated. Although many Cubans are racially mixed (including the then-president), those of obvious African origin were banned from the capital city’s beaches.

The U.S. supported the victorious Castro for a while. After the U.S. rejection, Castro announced that he always had been a socialist, and that one day history would absolve him. Castro went on to institute free education and medical care for all. After eliminating racial segregation and declaring social equality, the moneyed folks began their exodus to Miami. They finally are free of their nonagenarian tormentor.

Since Castro, Cuba has gone from the bottom to the top of nations with regard to literacy. With its concentration on healthcare for all, Cuba has so many doctors that it farms them out to other nations. When our southeast cities were ravaged by hurricane-induced flooding, offers by Cuba to send doctors were rejected.

After the Obama efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, who knows what steps the incoming administration may take. However it may go – with or without Fidel Castro – the Cuban people will survive. They are a hardy lot.

Fidel Castro

***** ***** *****

A Cuban by name of Fidel
Once caused Uncle Sam lots of hell.
Now he’s gone away;
What more’s there to say –
“Adiós; hope Old Nick treats you well”?

Curtis W. Long

Curtis W. Long

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