Yesterday all the media was overwhelmed with the sensationalist news that President Obama had the audacity of handshaking the hand of Cuban President Raul Castro. This simple act of civility created a wave of insults from the Right, as if behaving civilly during the farewell ceremony honoring Mr. Nelson Mandela is sufficient proof that the United States President is a communist.
The Cuban-American relationship has been broken since 1959; the United States useless embargo has been in place since 1962 and has done nothing to break the grip the Castros have on the island, quite the contrary, it has promulgated the sympathy of the world for the Castro’s regime… after all, it is one tiny island that has survived the powerful attacks from the most powerful nation on this planet. The embargo has created a martyr of the dictators of the island.
Many from the Cuban community in the States are outraged by the Obama-Castro handshake. They want things to continue the way they are indefinitely, they have too much to lose if the embargo is lifted and negotiations between the two countries become a reality.
In Miami, you see many businesses offering services to Cuba, from sending medicine to relatives in Cuba to sending money at outrageous prices. There are also travel agencies that promote trips to Cuba, at a price equal to traveling to the most expensive country in Europe, if not more. Offering these services is a very lucrative business that will crumble if the embargo is ever lifted.
Because of this, the Cuban-American community has the most to lose if the embargo is lifted and if they suspect any negotiation or civil approach with the Cuban regime they don’t waste a millisecond to scream at the top of their lungs their disapproval and if anyone thinks differently than them, they quickly use the old and abused label of “Communist!” So far, their tactics have worked and the useless and counterproductive embargo it’s still in place after 51 years.
And now, they’re up in arms again because of a single handshake. It is a well-known fact that the Right Wing has selective memory and some even suffer from a severe case of amnesia. They forget how many times their political representatives have done the same in the past, and even when they remember it they come up with a thousand and one excuses to justify their actions.
Lets take a look at famous Republican Presidents handshakes:
As seen above, a handshake can result in progress and peace. It can bring the oppressive regime to its knees faster and more fruitfully than war, as it happened with China and the Soviet Union.
The handshake between President Obama and President Castro might be nothing else but a simple courteous handshake between the leaders of two countries forced by the circumstances… But it might be the first step to change what hasn’t worked for more than half a century. When things don’t work, one must look for another way to reach a goal, otherwise nothing will change. I truly hope this handshake, criticized only by the Right Wing nuts and the retroactive Cuban-American community, lead to negotiations and finally the end of the embargo… The last thing a person should lose is hope.