Saturday, April 11, 2009

That Cuba Visit

Recently a congressional delegation paid a visit to Cuba and met with both Fidel and Raul Castro. One of the more interesting articles on that visit was published by Cuba's El Economista de Cuba. The op-ed piece is one man's reflection on that visit and earlier visits by the Congressional Black Caucus. That man was Fidel Castro. Via Watching America:

...The first delegation of the caucus to visit us was led by Maxine Waters, in February 1999; the second, in January of 2000. ...

In May of 2000, another delegation from the caucus visited us, led by the person who was then their leader, James Clyburn of North Carolina, with Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, and Gregory Meeks of New York. These congressmen were the first to receive my gift from Cuba of scholarships for young people of low income for the purpose of studying medicine in our country, students who would be selected by the C.B.C. We made the same offer to the NGO, Pastors for Peace, led by Reverend Lucius Walker, who sent the first students to the Latin America School of Medicine.

The visits essentially stopped after George W. Bush took office and his administration tightened the restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba. The Congressional Black Caucus did not simply walk away from Cuba during those years, however. When those students sent to study at the Latin America School of Medicine were about to have their training interrupted by the new rules, the C.B.C. went to then Secretary of State Colin Powell and urged an exception for them. To his credit, Mr. Powell effectively interceded and persuaded the White House to allow the students to continue to study in Cuba.

Mr. Castro then proceeded to reflect on the current visit and what the US delegation did, saw, and said, and what that could mean for future American-Cuban relations. Apparently some members of the delegation were frank about the chances of President Obama lifting the economic embargo against Cuba (slim to none), but one senses that the aging Castro still maintains hope that improved relations would lead to such a move, if not in President Obama's first term, then perhaps in the second.

Although the glowing report of the poor but well-educated, well-fed, and healthy Cuban populace presented by Mr. Castro is no doubt some of the old Fidel's rhetoric, his reflections are a valuable piece of history. Those reflections also provide a perspective that has never really been fairly presented in this country.

Perhaps Mr. Castro's optimism that there will be a change in US policy leading to normal relations between the two nations is well-founded, especially now, with a president and a congress looking for a real change in foreign policy. If that is the case, we can thank the Congressional Black Caucus for their efforts over the past ten years.

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Anonymous larry, dfh said...

...Although the glowing report of the poor but well-educated, well-fed, and healthy Cuban populace presented by Mr. Castro is no doubt some of the old Fidel's rhetoric...
Actually, they are true. In about 1984 I attended a lecture by a sociologist who had done his PhD work studying 'Blue collar families' in Baltimore. He later visited Cuba, and his talk was about his visit. As a graduate student one of the criteria he developed involved judging the rottenness of the children's teeth. This was a readily, non-intrusively observable marker. In Cuba he noticed the children DIDN'T have rotten teeth. It is now considered common knowledge that pediatric dental care in Cuba far surpasses that in the U.S. on a general level. I'm sure the same is true for literacy (remember education in the U.S. is compulsory only through the 8th grade).
Recently, the head of the Rockefeller Foundation was in Cuba. The foundation, among other things, helps resolve international disputes. I was very hopeful, and then senator bob (the mob) menendez got the squeeze and started up the anti-Cuba rhetoric. And then our new asshole V.P. started in with his obligatory and negative comments. Sorry folks, but where the mob's money is concerned, our current crop of democratic leaders (both legislative and executive) will unfailingly lose the dignity to do the right thing.

12:52 PM  

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