[OP-ED]: Three Years After Obama’s New Cuba Policy, Trump Resurrects the Cold War
“This was the best Christmas gift ever for me, for hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans and for the 11 million Cubans on the island.
I’m talking about the history-making announcement by President Obama of a sea change in U.S.-Cuba relations after more than 50 years of irrationality and hostility — something I had come to believe would not happen in my lifetime.
Yet, unexpectedly, it did happen.”
Those were the opening paragraphs of a column I wrote three years ago and the New York Daily News published on December 17, 2014. That was the day Obama and Raúl Castro, the president of Cuba, made history by taking a bold step forward toward peace and reconciliation between their two countries.
“Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba,” said Obama at the time in a statement filled with pragmatism and good will. “In the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years, we will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries. Through these changes, we intend to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people, and begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas.”
“Incredible news I’ve waited my entire life to hear,” said Ralph Ortega, a former Daily News reporter told me, expressing the feelings of thousands of Cuban-Americans. “I wish my dad, who was Cuban, was here for this.”
“It is one of the most exciting moments we have lived,” said Havana journalist Milena Recio.
Yes, it was an incredible and exciting moment. Embassies were reopened, travel restrictions were loosened and Obama became the first sitting U.S. president in 88 years to visit Cuba.
“At last there is a President with common sense in Washington,” said Vicente Dopico, a Miami-based Cuban-American artist.
Then, like a Jack-in the Box evil clown, Donald Trump popped up in Washington.
On June 16, in a shameful meeting at the Little Havana Manuel Artime Theater with the worst elements of the Cuban-American community and some genuflecting “dissidents” who traveled from Cuba, Trump announced his intention to turn the clock back.
“I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” he said, while outside the theater, hundreds of protesters and supporters clashed in the streets.
With those words Trump turned the dead cold war policy into a zombie-like monster intent on pleasing the likes of Marco Rubio, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and others who, like them, hypocritically claim to care for the Cuban people while doing their best to make their lives as hard as possible.
“Hopefully everything will normalize with Cuba, but right now, they are not doing the right thing,” Trump said on the third anniversary of the Obama administration re-engagement with Cuba. “And when they don’t do the right thing, we’re not going to do the right thing. That’s all there is to it. We have to be strong with Cuba. The Cuban people are incredible people. They support me very strongly. But we’ll get Cuba straightened out.”
Only someone like Trump, whose sense of reality is totally warped by his oversized ego, can believe the people of Cuba support him “very strongly.” Or maybe he is so utterly confused he thinks the sorry crowd who clapped like trained seals at his despicable announcement in Miami were “the Cuban people.”
One has to wonder what “the right thing” is for Trump, who in the midst of the chaos he has created, has managed to turn the U.S. into a haven for rich people and a hell for women, poor whites, immigrants, blacks and Muslims, while squandering his country’s international prestige and standing.
The rest is well known. Science fiction sonic attacks, diplomats expelled, travel tightened again, a rhetoric worth of a mindless bully, etc.
Three years after President Obama announced a new and rational Cuba policy, the bully in the White House has brought back the irrationality and bad faith that had been buried on December 17, 20014.
What could have been, as Cuban-American professor Arturo López Levy said at the time, “everybody’s victory for peace and good relations and nobody’s defeat,” is no more.
From Trump, only the worst can be expected.