End Cuba's endless tragedy

A month ago, spontaneous and angry demonstrations erupted along the entire length of Cuba, as people took to the streets to protest the lack of food and basic medicines, daily blackouts and other miseries that have beset the island for over 60 years, and have been recently aggravated by a rampant Covid-19 pandemic. 

If the extent of the sudden protests was remarkable in the usually hermetically sealed island, the response by the usual parties in this dispute was utterly predictable. 
Cuban-Americans in Little Havana gathered in front of the Versailles restaurant to shout their support for their compatriots back home, and demand American “action” against Cuba. 
Cubans vs. Cubans in Havana
Also predictably, the ever growing contingent of Cuban-American politicians in the U.S. demanded harsher measures against the communist government, although it’s difficult to imagine how much harsher American policy toward Cuba could get, short of a land invasion.   
Accordingly, President Biden met with a delegation of Cuban-Americans and voiced his condemnation of Cuba’s authoritarian ways. 
And the Cuban government, most predictably, blamed its perpetual economic woes on the U.S. economic embargo, rather than the utter failure of its own communist economic strategies.    
Yet, a month after this latest hubbub, and more than 62 years after the triumph of Castro’s revolution, the lot of the average Cuban on the island remains dim and so does the prospect of change, as all sides keep mouthing the same tired slogans.  
Since 1959 Fidel has died and his brother, who followed him, retired; the Soviet Union collapsed along with the Berlin Wall; the U.S. fought a ruinous war in Vietnam which then reconciled with the U.S.—and so on and on. Not to mention the 20-year conflict in Afghanistan, which is drawing to an inglorious finale. 
History keeps moving on around the world but Cuba and U.S. policy toward it stay stuck in an endless loop. 
There was a brief break in this impasse under President Obama, when the U.S. and Cuba reestablished diplomatic relations, though the congressionally mandated economic embargo remained in place. Then came President Trump, who put an end to any rapprochement with Cuba, largely, one suspects, to coddle his political base among Florida’s Cuban-American community.  
It’s essential for all parties to this endless conflict to shift gears, but often I despair that is possible. 
The ever rancorous Cubans in Miami need to abandon any notion of a grand American move that will finally end the communist lease on the island and restore the ancien regime or anything like it in Cuba. 
That world is gone forever but significant change is possible. In Vietnam, the Communist Party remains in power even though it has presided over capitalist revolution in that country. A facsimile of that is the most viable way out to the 60-plus-year Cuban impasse.
Cubans in the U.S. also need to keep in mind who are the real victims in this endless political and economic war.  They are not the communist functionaries driving around Havana in their Mercedes, and largely immune from the economic vicissitudes brought about by the embargo. It’s the rank-and-file Cubans—our relatives, friends, former classmates and present soulmates—who face daily  misery and deprivation resulting from failed policies neither side will abandon. 
I keep thinking that sheer demographics are moving Cuban-Americans in a more realistic stance toward Cuba, as the old guard dies off. 
My late dad, an otherwise rational and sober man, once told me the only way to deal with the Cuban “problem” was to go down there “machete in hand and kill all the Communists.” My dad is gone and I have no intention of going anywhere with a machete or marching in front of the Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana to demand the U.S. get tougher with Cuba. Rather I pray that all parties move away from that fruitless bitterness. 
For its side, the U.S. government ought to put Cuba in a more realistic strategic context. It’s rotten, failed state, hardly a threat to the U.S. with no missiles or invading force to threaten the U.S. or its allies.
The real hope for the desperate protesters in Cuba is a rethinking of policies on all side, rather than more of the predictable—and failed—stances and platitudes of the past six decades.

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