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Cuba: Itinerary of an Obsession

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Cuba: Itinerary of an Obsession

Pinar del Rio, Cuba. Photo: Bill Hackwell

Source: La Jornada, translation, Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau

Cuba’s archipelago fits 90 times into the United States. There is no lithium, nor large mineral resources, and so far, not a singlefield has been found—like in Mexico—to wake up the oil industry’s unquenchable thirst. Cuba is a palm grove in the middle of the ocean, said Jose Fornaris, a romantic poet from the 19th century. An island caught amidst the dreadful sugar cane cycle, as Jean Paul Sartre described it in his book Hurricane Over Sugar (1961), trying to explain the reasons for the 1959 Revolution.

Without riches such as those in Bolivia, Venezuela, or Mexico, and without Cuba being a threat for the United States, the historic obsession of the U.S. Administration to control the Caribbean country looks to be beyond any common sense though.

The Trump Administration chose the Human Rights Day, two days ago on December 10th, to ban all flights from the U.S. towards Cuba—except for Havana—, a measure branded by Democrat James McGovern as a stupid political trick. As if they had not exerted enough pressure, at a top secret meeting in which Vice-President Mike Pence discussed the failure of the U.S. policies on Venezuela it was released that they would increase their pressure on the Island, which they blame for Nicolas Maduro’s strengthen all the while self-proclaimed Juan Guaido is losing his charm. The U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States, Carlos Trujillo, was interviewed by the Voice of the Americas and blamed Havana for anything human and divine, including social unrest in Chile, Colombia, and Bolivia. And all this happened in just one week.

Evidently, it’s hard to get acquainted with this escalation against Cuba amidst a possible impeachment to Trump and the huge scandal of almost 20 years of lies from the White House about Afghanistan. An escalation that has been dramatically rising since June 2017 to date, spoiling the shy steps taken by Barack Obama to approach the Island, perhaps dreaming to subjugating it through different methods.

Waking up in Cuba every morning with threats and sanctions from the North is distressing but no one is surprised here. Fidel Castro, the Cuban who got to know better the United States than anyone, never thought that Obama’s best version would be able to act against the instinctive nature of the relationships that were born in the 18th century under an imperial logic. “Many dream that just by changing its head, the empire would be more tolerant and less warmongering… Believing that the good intentions of only one intelligent person would change the consequences of centuries of interests and selfishness would be extremely naïve,” wrote Fidel in one of his Reflections, on November 152008.

The Cuban leader was perhaps thinking about that, a few years after proclaiming its independence in 1776, U.S. leaders set their interests on the Caribbean island that they saw as Florida’s natural extension. John Quincy Adams, the sixth U.S. President, said: “There are laws of political as well as physical gravitation… Cuba, forcibly disjoined from its own unnatural connection with Spain can gravitate only towards the North American Union…” Offers to buy it from Spain so that it would cede the pearl of its crown in the Caribbean came in before the American Civil War.

In 1960, former U.S. Ambassador to Havana, Earl E. T. Smith, declared to the Senate: “Until Castro, the U.S. was so overwhelmingly influential in Cuba that the American ambassador was the second most important man, sometimes even more important than the Cuban president.” A few analysts saw a display of immodesty in this statement gathered by Eduardo Galeano in his book Open Veins of Latin America and which expresses the whole contempt and dependence characterizing the years since Spain was military defeated in 1898 until the 1959 Cuban Revolution.

The United States has never overcome the significance of a revolution 90 miles away off its coasts, a horse treatment as Sartre said in his memorable 1961 essay, in which society breaks its own bones with a hammer; demolishes its structures; messes up its institutions; transforms its property regime and re-distributes its assets; guides its productions according to other principles; tries to rapidly increase its possible growth rate; and, in the most radical destructive moment, tries to reconstruct itself, by trying to get new bones through bone grafting.

Throughout sixty years, such horse treatment has been seen by some as a show; others, as a mystery; or a suicide; a scandal; or as a beautiful challenge. But the definite key is that it happened without the U.S. ambassador as a leading character in the local political scene. The empire’s obsession so far is pathological. We can understand that.

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