By ROBYN SHAPIRO
After President Obama traveled to Cuba a couple of days ago, the U.S. continued, as a country, to open relations with Cuba. It was the first presidential visit to Cuba in more than 90 years.
The “Rachel Maddow Show” did a 45 minute segment on how each Democratic president since John Kennedy (and including JFK) has tried to reopen relations with Cuba, but none have been successful until President Obama.
While many people see this as a positive progress into the future, many Cuban Americans would disagree.
Even though Marco Rubio dropped out of the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, I felt that his opinion on Cuban relations had the most accurate representation on why Cuban Americans are against opening relations with Cuba.
“The policy (Obama’s) is based on the illusion that more commerce and access to money and goods will translate into political freedom for the Cuban people. This will not work: The Cuban people are not free because the regime — just as it does with every aspect of life — manipulates and controls to its own advantage all currency that flows into the island. More economic engagement with the U.S. means that the regime’s grip on power will be strengthened for decades to come, dashing the Cuban people’s hopes for freedom and democracy,” Rubio stated on his Web site.
The Miami area is a very unique part of the United States where the story of people escaping the Cuban regime is a common one.
In an interview I did with civil engineer Jose Vega in Coral Gables, he stated similar opinions to Rubio after explaining to me that his family fled Cuba when he was 13 years old. His parents decided to leave Cuba so that he could have a better life. He started in the United States very poor and built his own business, and he prides himself on being a successful representation of the American Dream. He knew that in Cuba he never would have had that opportunity.
While the rest of the United States cannot relate to his story and the story of many Cuban Americans, it is important to take into consideration the first-hand experience they’ve had while we make progress in international relations in the future.
While I have found the news media covers both sides of this opinion, the minority side (Cuban-American side), is less understood and therefore should have equal attention to the pro-Cuba relations side.