Lemons, Limes, and Grapefruits

“When life hands you a bunch of lemons….”   make a citrus daiquiri—that’s what Cuba did.raising the flag

I’m not an alcohol imbiber but I believe that daiquiris are made with rum, reminiscent of the Caribbean, where we are now re-hoisting the American flag today at our newly re-opened embassy in Cuba.

Therefore in essence, when life hands you a 53-year economic and social embargo from the United States, you basically ignore it and keep plugging away in the manner that you’ve always known—subsistence living. Then one day 53 years later, both countries’ leaders look at each other and ask, “Now tell me again, why is it that we are doing this?”

havanaThis is not an easy topic of discussion for any side, especially during election-season mania because there were some genuinely serious issues involved: long-standing violations of human rights, political incarcerations, attempts at assassination (Bay of Pigs)….. oh, and Cuba did some bad things also—pretty much the same things except there were no safe guards in place for the Cuban people such as due process of law, demands for social justice, and freedom of expression guaranteed by the US Constitution.

So when Cuban political dissidents were sent to jail, they stayed and often died there. Cuba was a very bad place in which to be unhappy about your personal situation. That’s why so many Cubans left the restricted island by any means possible—by air or sea. And that’s also why there are so many Cuban-American people who have such mixed feelings on the normalization of relationship with the country that has the same Communist/Socialist rulers still in power.

After all, Cuba is still a Communist country under rule of a dictator (he calls it Prime Minister), who is the brother of the former ruthless dictator (Prime Minister), who took over Cuba in the late 1950’s during a military coup that Fidel Castro referred to as “The Revolution” or “The Liberation” of the Cuban people.

And at 89, despite his predicted demise in every decade since 1960, Fidel Castro is still alive and still making a fuss castro and Napolianthat America now owes the Cuban people millions of dollars for creating decades of economic hardship for them. What chutzpah!

Castro has outlived American Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford; and has thumbed his nose at Presidents Carter, two Bushes, Clinton, and Obama. That’s longevity at its finest or worst, depending on your perspective.

mapSo upon this auspicious occasion of the American flag once again flying 106 miles southwest of Key West, Florida, may we give pause for silence and contemplation of what was really accomplished during those five decades of pretending that Cuba and its governing forces were dead to us.

One could wax philosophical on the folly of allowing extreme ideologies to dominate clear thinking and prevent practical solutions to serious disagreements; but on the other hand, the world was in such a different place 50-years ago, and we know that today’s clarity lasts only as long as the sun continues to shine upon it.

So may the clouds continue to part for all of us in our unified endeavors, and let that sun shine in.