Sunday, February 25, 2007

With a Shield on My Arm: Americans in Cuba

Yesterday afternoon, "Anonymous" posted the following comment on “Americans in Cuba: It’s About Time”.

"I agree that anyone wanting to go and visit cuba should have the right to do so as a free citizen from any country.
I do have one question for you and that is : Did you visit any of the many political prisoners in the many cuban prisons just for daring to express what they feel?
Did you meet any of the thousands of mothers, wifes and sisters who have lost their loves one in the florida strait?
See is very easy to express your admiration for a system that you are not affected by, what you consider good is nothing more than adoctrination of the cuban children by the illegitimate goverment of the castro brothers."

When we traveled to Cuba to build our playgrounds, we did so with instructions to remain apolitical in order not to jeopardize our license. I was mindful of this in writing about the travel restrictions and, reading the article again, I believe I have held to this agreement. If admiration was expressed in my article, I hope it will be seen to be for Bill Hauf, the founder of It’s Just the Kids, for his initiative, courage and persistence to take goodwill ambassadors directly to the peoples of Cuba.

I am unsure what section of the article seemed to express admiration for the Cuban system. I will say this, though - I cannot but have admiration for the Cuban people who are resourceful, hard-working people let down by misguided governments. I’m not even sure “misguided governments” is the best way to say what has happened between neighbors.

There is no right on either side, only wrongs, with what has happened over the last 47 years between the American and Cuban governments. One does not have to visit the Cuban prisons or meet the grieving relatives to be “trembling with indignation” at the injustice and disservice to both peoples.

I would ask the reader to consider other questions here:

What has kept the U.S. travel and trade restrictions in place for almost a half century when clearly this approach has not achieved the expressed goal of bringing a democratically elected government to Cuba?

Have we learned anything from the US policy toward Cuba to keep history from repeating itself, or indeed do men like war?

If we are interested in seeing the Cuban children less indoctrinated, would this purpose be better served by a free exchange, travel and trade, between the peoples of the two countries?

How long would Castro have remained in power if the Cuban people had free access to American travel and trade?

What could happen if American peoples traveled to struggling countries with the shield on their arms of playgrounds and teachers and schools?


Sonnjea B said...

I have now re-read "Americans in Cuba: It's About Time" three times, and I can't see that you have "express[ed] your admiration for a system that you are not affected by" AT ALL.

I wonder if Anonymous takes your criticism of the American government's approach to dealing with Cuba to mean that instead, you support the Cuban government's approach to dealing with its own people. This is a leap that is certainly not support by either logic or the content of your article.

An open exchange, not just of currency, but of ideas and cultures and goodwill BETWEEN PEOPLE, such as your playground project, is ultimately what will force the governments to change.


Katharine said...

Sonnjea, Thank you for your review and comment. I was worried as we have to be careful not to make any statements that could be considered political.

John Nettleton said...

Anonymous' diatribe is standard Southern Florida rhetoric from sclerotic non-thinkers most of whom were allied with, or cozied-up to the last dictator who was at least as bad as the present one, but ok for some since he was a US lap-dog. They bandy about terms like democracy and freedom while really just waiting for the opportunity to get their mansions and factories back. Anyone building parks in Cuba "Just for Kids" has more compassion for the Cuban people in one drop of sweat than the total of all the old men and their cronies playing dominoes on Calle Ocho, or plotting at the Versaille Restaurant.
Capitalism ain't pretty, but Communism sure is ugly.....both governments can share the blame for this longstanding mess.