OPINION: Thawing US-Cuban relations is great to hear but taking too long

Bruce Walton is the opinions editor. Contact him at [email protected].

Bruce Walton

Looking back through history books and articles, the Cold War seemed like a scary time.; a second round of America fighting for capitalism against the Red Menace. 

But I believe the most important part of the Cold War was the Bay of Pigs occurrence, and one of the few instances where we almost sparked a third World War.

After that crucial event in 1961, America expanded its already strict embargo on Cuba, sealing it off of any connections, including food, medicine or embassies. Right now in, just the last decade, we have seen the first in what will eventually be great and amazing strides in opening doors to Cuba again. We’ve already seen President Obama open relations with Cuba to family members able to visit their loved ones in Cuba in 2009 and just this month 53 prisoners have been released and are now enjoying their new freedom.  This is happening too slow and way later than it should have decades ago.

When the Berlin Wall fell, it was the symbolic end of the Cold War, with the following disbanding of the USSR’s satellite nations and their grip on the other nations slowly loosening, its collapse also was tied to Cuba’s economy, which also suffered.

In some ways, America was not this heroic nation of patriots who saved East Germany because no nation or people should be divided from their families. We made our own Berlin Wall right here. Cuba was cut off from everyone else who fled to America. And because of that, Cuba was cut from many benefits like trade and outside resources that could have helped the country’s economy.

Cuban immigrants who came over from Cuba before the embargo were cut from their families, not able to see their friends or loved ones for over half a century.  East Berliners had the same problem, seeing the wall every day and not seeing those people they used to see every day.

I understand that there have been other problems with the relations with Cuba before the Bay of Pigs, but just like every other instance, none of it matters at all anymore. I feel like I’m talking to children, or more realistically, stubborn old men who can’t remember why they even started fighting.

To make it plain and simple: the Cuban embargo should have been torn down with the Berlin Wall, artifacts from a lost age that have no place in the 21st Century. The fact we have such an authoritative Cold War foreign policy still active is embarrassing. Cuba is not a threat, and after the USSR fell, it never would be. Slowly, we are inching to meet in the middle thanks to the combined efforts of Presidents Obama and Raul Castro, but there needs to be more of a reach being made to make Cuba an open nation again.

The embargo should be lifted now, it should have been lifted in the 90s, and I hope we will see more frequent changes to our US-Cuba relations in the future. An isolated Cuba is not what we need, and I don’t even think its something either of us wanted in the first place.