Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Mr. Obama, President-elect, Sir:

Your winning platform included talking with our "enemies" without preconditions. Could we begin with our Cuban neighbors just off our shore? Almost fifty years of economic blockade is enough! If our objective has been to squeeze Castro out of power and bring democracy and human rights to Cuba, it hasn't worked. Perhaps open trade and communication between Cuba the US would have hastened both these objectives. Instead we saw the old "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" as the Cuban government turned to Russia for support.

In 2005, a group of 15 Americans with It's Just the Kids went to Havana -- with a license from the US government -- and built four playgrounds for the Cuban children. We had to work every day in order to ensure we would not have time for sightseeing or travel into the countryside and we could not buy souvenirs other than art to make sure we weren't putting money into the Cuban economy. We saw this large sign erected by Castro on the waterfront Malecon, facing across the straits toward Florida.

Translated, it says "Senor Imperialists, we are absolutely not afraid of you!

Another translation: US policy has not worked.

If this tiny country can defiantly hold out for 50 years, imagine the outcome with Sarah Palin's suggestion that the US sanction Russia if they don't fall in line.

In 2006 as the hostile Bush administration tightened restrictions even further, the US government refused to issue a workable license for us to return to Cuba to build more playgrounds. As Patty would say, go figure! How were a bunch of playground building Americans in Cuba going to threaten US security? The huge amount of good will was not going to cost the government a penny -- Bill Hauf, a Republican, mind you, raised the money for the equipment himself. Not only that, he came back from the 2005 trip and ran for Congress. Not exactly what I'd call a bleeding heart liberal.

Mr. President-elect, consider this small step toward improving American relations with the world. Open up trade. Allow Americans free travel to Cuba as should be their right. We had a good start with the Clinton administration. After 8 years of a regressive administration, could we get back on track? We are waiting to build those playgrounds in Cuba.

Yours truly,
A left-leaning Republican in California.


Kappa no He said...

I didn't know about the tightening of sanctions in 2006. Insane. I do hope Obama is abe to do all the right things as quickly as possible. He's got the leadership abilities and the charisma to get people moving. I'm no longer afraid to get heckled when I walk out my door each day.


Katharine said...

Yes, it would be glad to travel again with some pride for a change.