Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎


posted 28 Jan 2015, 18:07 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 28 Jan 2015, 18:19 ]
If the Cold War is over, why, then, is Professor Ryan beating up on Fidel Castro and Raul Castro? Why has he become the mouth-piece of the minority Cuban exiles in Miami who oppose the revolution?

First of all, Professor Ryan is incorrect by asserting that both Fidel and Raul hijacked the Cuban Revolution. While both figures have become symbols of the revolution, the Cuban revolution is much bigger than Fidel and Raul.  Julia Sweig, has noted that, “Despite Fidel’s overwhelming personal authority and Raul’s critical institution-building abilities, the government rests on far more than just the charisma, authority, and legend of these two figures” (Contemporary Cuban Reader First Edition, 237).

One may not agree with some of the policies that they pursued but to lump them as totalitarian dictators is another matter. To argue that the U.S. should not normalize relations with Cuba because of a perceived notion of the practice of totalitarianism is very spurious. If we go by Ryan’s totalitarian logic of Cuba, then, the U.S should not have normalized relations with China, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Pinochet’s Chile, Somoza’s Nicaragua and on and on. Moreover, it should stop conducting business with governments in Latin America, (Mexico, Honduras)  that continue to violate the Human Rights of their citizens.

The History of all the major revolutions has shown that these revolutions were not democratic. Over time, the people have struggled for democracy against those who oppose the expansion of democratic rights and freedoms. The people in Cuba have not stopped fighting for democratic rights and freedoms just as African-Americans and other minority groups in the U.S have not either. Because we say that a country is democratic, it does not mean that democracy is extended to everyone? I ask the learned professor, is Trinidad and Tobago a democratic society? Has the Westminster model of government worked for all the citizens?

Secondly, it appears that Professor Ryan has become a lobbyist for a small right-wing minority of Cuban-Americans who continue to oppose any normalizing of U.S/Cuba relationships. I don’t know why he took that approach to critiquing the policy, but I hope he does not have a sinister agenda.  While this group is still a force in Floridian politics, President Obama has recognized that their influence on the national level is dwindling because of the growing influence of a younger generation of Cuban-Americans who are much more progressive than their parents.

Last week on HardBall with Chris Matthews, Howard Fineman, journalist and editorial director of AOL Huffington Post Media Group, argued that data has shown that a large percentage of the younger Cuban/American generation supports Obama’s decision and they want the U.S. to end the embargo on Cuba. If this is the case, why did the learned professor side with the small minority of Cubans and write his tirade about Fidel and Raul? It is quite clear that Ryan is on the wrong-side of history.

The U.S has come to the realization that its Cold War policies as they relate to Cuba have not worked. President Obama even called the policy insane. I strongly urge Professor Ryan “to get with the program.” The Cold War is long over. Fidel and Raul will not live forever; the Cuban people will accept the normalizing of relations on their own terms and not on terms dictated by the U.S. or the minority Cuban right wing fringe in Miami.

I strongly urge the learned professor to use his pen and begin a discourse on this new paradigm rather than obsessing on what Fidel did or did not do. The train has already left the station. The U.S./Cuba representatives have met to iron out the policies. Like it or not Ryan, get on board and use your influence at the University of the West Indies to begin a discourse on this important historical process.