President Obama was the first sitting American President to visit the Island of Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. It really goes without saying that this is not because of some odd coincidence that past presidents of the freest nation on Earth have chosen to skip over the island throughout history.
Cuba has been controlled by communist dictatorships for the better part of a century. Ones that have not just threatened the lives of their own people, but also the safety and security of the free world as seen during the cold war days.
Nonetheless, President Obama has never thought twice about making personal allies with dangerous dictators who threaten our nation. He did it in Iran with the Ayatollah giving him billions in sanction relief, he has backed down to Vladimir Putin and now he is shaking hands with Raul Castro.
While President Obama was standing in front of a giant portrait of Fidel Castro, which still looks over the city of Havana and ignoring the leaders gruesome past, our allies in Europe were fighting for their lives in a global war against terror. Instead of going home to assist our friends in a time of need during the Brussels attack, the President was at a Cuban baseball game, appeasing the punk Raul Castro, even participating in “the wave” with him. Seriously? You can’t even make this stuff up. The world is lacking leadership and our president has shown he will do what he wants when he wants, including making friends with some of the worst people on earth. But that’s a story for a different piece.
There have been popular misconceptions of Cuba. Some rightfully suggest the cold war is over and there should be more relations with the Cuban people. Moreover, there are some that are inherently not true, like the Cuban people are free and love their government. That Cubans have high literacy rates and can provide for their families. Unfortunately, that is all these rumors are, popular misconceptions.
The Cuban people work for cents on the hour and wait in line to be granted housing and cars from their government. Their literacy rates don’t matter much because they aren’t allowed to read any sources of literature that are not approved by their government. They aren’t allowed to read such things as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times or even historical books because the dictatorship condemns it. Their infant mortality rate is awful especially if you ignore the fact that the government does not count babies actually born if they do not survive a certain length of time after they are out.
Times have changed, and it’s true that we no longer live in the Cold War-era. We should continue to embrace our Cuban neighbors just like we have been for years as they have fled communism hoping for a better life here in America. However, the common misconception that lifting a trade embargo would actually be creating a free Cuba is not right. That money will once again go the ruthless dictators of Cuba and its military. It will not advance the lives of Cuba’s people, but rather the lives of its dictatorship. President Obama may be eager to make as many friends as he can before he is finished in January 2017, but freedom for the Cuban people won’t be amongst his short list of accomplishments.
Peter Hinman is a senior majoring in political science.