On this day in 1961 Fidel Castro announced that he was a Marxist-Leninist and than under his leadership Cuba would become a communist country. This statement came after the Bay of Pigs disaster, when the CIA did not follow through on their promises to support the loyalists. That would not be the last time that the US promised to support revolutionists or pro-American dissidents and then hung them out to dry. Then we shake our head and wonder why people in the world hate us.
After Castro declared Cuba communist it became a key pawn in the cold-war. The Soviet Union coddled the small island nation to attempt to place missiles within 90 miles of American soil. This stare down between the US and USSR was the closest that we came to a nuclear war. Most people do not remember the Cuban Missile Crisis or the 13 days in October 1962, when thousands of Americans held their breaths wondering if Kennedy could get us out of a nuclear confrontation.
On 28 October 1962 both the US and USSR agreed to remove missile bases that were close to the other’s land mass. That was our bases in Turkey and their bases in Cuba. And so the cold-war continued until the Wall opened in 1989. With the end of the cold-war most people assumed that all communist countries would follow suit. That didn’t happen, China saw the chance to become a big player on the world scene and step up to the plate. In it’s shadow remain Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba.
Cuba is still only 90 miles from our shores and still communists. Being from South Florida I am a little more aware of Cuba’s presence than most Americans and we also get more Cuban news here than the rest of the country. Cuban Americans here in South Florida have been holding their breath for months now hoping to hear the news that Fidel has passed. They believe that with Fidel out of the picture that Cuba will gain the real chance to be free and independent. I hope that they are right.
It will be a long road if they chose to take it. One of the things that most Americans don’t realize about other countries around the world is that most don’t allow their citizens access to a lot of the resources that we take for granted. Their text books are written differently and they view the world with certain taught basis. Just like we do. The difference is that we can make the effort to seek out different points of view and new information so that we may make informed decisions and create informed opinions about the world around us. So when the uncensored doors of the world are opened to the Cuban people they may find some things strange and even troubling, it may be easier to go back to the old ways if for no other reason than the comfort of familiarity. Venturing into the unknown can be a wonderfully scary thing to do and is not for the faint of heart. I happen to believe that the Cuban people are ready and willing and very capable to make this journey and we need to be open to helping them without pressure or influence.