Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    For Cuban-American exiles, the political is usually personal

    For Cuban-American exiles, the political is usually personal
    01/02/2015 5:09 PM 01/02/2015 5:09 PM

    President Obama’s announcement of the policy shift toward Cuba was but a
    blip on the American national political spectrum. Yet for many Cuban
    Americans in Miami it was life altering — the paradigm of U.S.-Cuba
    relations was reset to a place it hadn’t been in most of our lifetimes.

    I sat in my neighborhood cigar shop to watch the announcement and felt a
    flurry of emotions that I hadn’t felt about Cuba and the Cuban polemic
    for a long time. My sentiments varied from disappointment to excitement
    from confusion to pain.

    Even though there was the release of Alan Gross and the three Cuban
    spies, I could not have imagined that the president’s 20-minute
    announcement would turn the existing U.S. policy on Cuba on its head and
    would thrust me, my fellow smokers huddled around the TV and most of the
    Cuban community in Miami on a whirlwind, introspective review of history
    — not just Cuban history, but our personal, family histories, as well.

    I called my father and was not surprised to hear a sullen tinge in his
    voice. He was upset and confused. I understood why. He’s from a
    generation whose wounds inflicted by the Castros’ revolution never fully
    healed. His generation believed that their American neighbors wore John
    Wayne white hats and would never abandon their struggle for freedom. If
    the fiasco at the Bay of Pigs didn’t destroy that image, the president’s
    announcement certainly did.

    Being reared and educated as an American, I digested the change in
    policy a little differently, though with much of the same hesitancy as
    my father.

    To me this was nothing more than a dose of realpolitik — a new policy
    supplanting an antiquated approach. This is not the first U.S.
    administration to attempt a change. Even Ronald Reagan, who is a
    messianic figure to many Cuban-American Republicans, attempted to close
    the gap with Cuba. In 1993, when I interviewed them for my film Adios
    Patria, former Secretary of State Alexander Haig and special envoy
    Ambassador Vernon Walters both told me they spoke to the Cubans about a
    possible détente under Reagan’s directive.

    This change in policy underscores the fact that much of our foreign
    policy is and has been dictated by U.S. economic interests. The United
    States went from being the imposing policeman of the world to the
    money-grubbing profiteer that justifies its greed by masking it with
    political rhetoric. Frankly, I’m not sure which is worse.

    I recognize that the nation’s previous stance toward Cuba was an
    outdated sham that did not benefit Cubans on either side of the Florida
    Straits, except maybe for those who used it for political advantage.

    Yet for those dancing the normalization mambo, there is much to
    question. If there is nothing more to the deal than what’s been
    publicized, this is the worst negotiation in American history — except
    maybe for the Native Americans selling Manhattan to the Dutch for $20.

    With this shift in relations, there should also be a repositioning of
    Cuban-American demands of the White House. Let’s insist that the Castro
    government be held accountable for human-rights violations like the ones
    they perpetrated this week, detaining dozens of dissidents who were
    going to participate in a peaceful demonstration.

    Cubans, sadly, know a thing or two about being dealt away and spoken for
    by superpowers. This is a great opportunity for the Cuban-American
    community to make sure that the struggle for freedom in Cuba is
    extricated from U.S. partisan politics. Let’s put to rest the
    patronizing “Cuba si, Castro no” hollow promises made by stiff, gringo
    politicians having café at Versailles and begin to actively and
    constructively engage in the new paradigm so that decisions are no
    longer made for us.

    Source: For Cuban-American exiles, the political is usually personal |
    The Miami Herald –