I know that Cuba has long been a contentious subject in the the United States. People older than I remember learning about the Bay of Pigs, the overthrow of Batiste in Cuba, heralding in the Castro dictatorship. I was taught about the Cuban Missile crisis. I only know the little I was taught in High School, and later from documentaries, movies and reading.
I was taught about the cold war, and have recollections of the evil USSR and the bomb. We did have air raid drills in my small rural upstate NY school. I grew up at the end of that war. I am not unfamiliar to it, but I didn't experience it the way my parents and grandparents did. My normal is far different from theirs. My Grandmother will go to her grave hating the Japanese for the Second world war, Cubans that fled their country and their families will go to their graves hating Castro. Ironically, I have Japanese friends, the way that I am sure there are people who have friends in today's Cuba. My history is different.
Much has changed in this world. Kennedy was killed long before I was born, the USSR is broken up and now primarily known as Russia. Nikita Khrushchev is far removed from being a person discussed in geopolitical world views. Since that time, only the Queen of England seems to still be relevant, with one exception: Castro.
While Fidel is no longer 'President' his brother is only a slightly warmer version of the man who controlled Cuba for so many decades.
Politically, in all that time, Cuba has not really changed. The people are poor
, but its leadership's mindset hasn't changed. The generation of Cubans that are my age must be experiencing American History the way I experienced theirs - from a distance, from the remnants of those who can still tell the story of what happened.
I have never viewed Cuba as an enemy, per say. Only as a country that I am not to trust. and as the years go by, that history becomes more and more distant and far away.
When the President said he was normalizing relations with Cuba yesterday, I viewed it as something sensible. After 50 years, it's not like this embargo was going to change anything, so why not try something different? Radical change often causes radical results. This announcement is not radical in a violent way, it is radical in that someone decided to blink and extend a hand. President Obama said it himself
Cuba may be where Obama is finally getting to apply whatever lessons he learned from Iraq and the Arab Spring. “It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse,” he said. “Even if that worked—and it hasn't for fifty years—we know from hard-earned experience that countries are more likely to enjoy lasting transformation if their people are not subjected to chaos.”
People who came here in the 60s-70s from Cuba may be very angry at this move. The pain of what happened should not be dismissed, but acknowledged. It's the younger generations that will welcome this change in relations. Some will say Castro won, but I think the people of the country won. I think a younger generation of people will have the chance one day to look at their history on the day that they were told, American is normalizing relations with this far away and yet so close nation — you can have your heritage.