On November 25th, 2016, the Cuban politician and revolutionary Fidel Castro passed away. He governed the Republic of Cuba for nearly 50 years as a Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and as President from 1976 to 2008.
In the year of 1959, Castro overthrew the Cuban President Batista, took full control of Cuba, and installed a communist Marxist government. Following the Marxist philosophy, under Castro’s rule, the government took over much of businesses, farms, and industries. Moreover, freedom of speech and of the press was restricted. However, after he fell ill in 2008, Castro resigned as president, and his brother Raúl has been running the country ever since.
In the year of 2014, as Cuba slowly began to disengage from Fidel Castro’s oppressive system, U.S. President Barack Obama loosened the economic embargo between the United States and Cuba, together with Raúl Castro. Such alleviation of a blockage excited the populace of both nations, as this meant not only an increase in travel between the two countries, but also a broadened scope of trade and business. Not to mention the Cubans who had defected to the United States during Fidel Castro’s regime, for now they could fly back to Cuba without encountering hardships.
As the catalyst for Cuban dictatorship was now gone, many believed the system of absolute rule, too, would disintegrate into thin air – everybody but Donald J. Trump. After a mere two days of Castro’s death, Trump had already begun threatening Cubans without even allowing enough time to let the reality of Castro’s death sink in.
It’s as if we have been pulled back to 1962 – that’s almost six decades ago –. It’s as if Obama’s attempts at normalizing the status-quo was for nothing. Trump is looking to potentially put the embargo which once existed back in place, thus nullifying the steps the United States as well as the Republic of Cuba had been taking towards truce.
Perhaps this isn’t surprising, as during his presidency campaign, Trump promised the nation to overturn any probable openings of U.S. relations with Cuba, “unless the Castro regime meets our demands – not my demands, our demands.” He is only restating what he mentioned before getting elected as President.
However, does Trump even know what he’s talking about? Honestly, I doubt that. His position on supporting U.S. hostility only unnerves the entire Republic of Cuba. In the meantime, he is allowing Raúl Castro to gain even more strength, therefore only emphasizing the authoritarian rule which Cuba is under. It is not outdated Cold War policies Cuba needs. It is the continuation of Obama’s efforts towards establishing a positive relationship with Cuba. What is the point in giving the dictator more power? Or in discouraging the reopening of embassies and limiting trade? Now is exactly the time in which the nation of America must influence the Republic of Cuba with American values and ideas of freedom, thus putting an end to Cuban dictatorship.
– Leona Maruyama (‘17)
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