I, like many cuban-americans, have spent most of my life wondering what it would be like to be in Havana on a warm summer night. Smoking cigars, drinking mojitos and dancing the night away at the Tropicana seem like pleasures of another era to be enjoyed solely through movies and books. While on a recent trip to Key West I noticed that just about every tourist trap mentioned Havana and its proximity to the unsuspecting customer. I tried to figure out why they would do this. And after a couple of days it hit me. Cuba is such the “forbidden fruit” for americans that it makes these little tours that much more appealing. (I’m guessing here.)
With all its decadent and carnal pleasures that Cuba offers there is another uglier side with dire consequences. It is this side of the equation that has torn families apart and kept them apart for entire life times. This is the side that has been created by politicians hell-bent on keeping things as they are whether for their own personal gain or just because of their insatiable vanity and ego. All my life I have heard how the “embargo” is working and how any day “Fidel” will fall. Well, he has fallen, sort of. But not because of our brilliant politicians and their embargo. He has literally fallen because he is about 150 years old. Yet, the country is still under communist rule (by his brother, Raul) who will inadvertently finally help me with my quest to have people say my name correctly (especially in the South).
Yes, the communists are still in power and are not going to reform any time soon. Meanwhile, life passes by, families are torn, babies are born, grandmothers die, and we are not there. I have a cousin that is my age. I have no idea what he does. My dad’s mother passed away a couple of years ago. He didn’t get to say goodbye. My cousins have had children and we cannot hold them and buy them gifts and participate in any aspect of their lives. And the list goes on and on…and not just for me, but for many like me. Isn’t it about time to change all this?
Now, I am not naive enough to think that Obama can change everything, much less anything. But at the very least here is a politician who is willing to try and at least listen to new ideas. He will be up against a very powerful, very conservative cuban-american lobby that will derail any diplomatic efforts with Cuba. His speech at the “Fundacion” (Cuban American National Foundation) was very well-received by a sold-out crowd that normally wouldn’t listen to a politician who is at least talking about “talking” to Cuba. If nothing else, it’s a start and it’s a good one. Then maybe, just maybe we will be able to take one of those tours from Key West that actually visits Havana instead of simply talk about it.