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    The future of Cuba is capitalism
    By Nicolas Briscoe | 03/20/2017 7:42pm

    The greatest blessing of my life has been my Cuban heritage. The warmth,
    love and fun that accompany every aspect of Cuban family and culture are
    incomparable forces for good in my life. In my hometown of Miami, there
    is a neighborhood referred to as “Little Havana,” named such because it
    was one of the first outposts of Cuban life in the United States
    following the Cuban revolution of 1959. Now, however, the neighborhood
    serves as much purpose as a little Italy in Rome, or a Chinatown in
    Beijing. All of Miami is Little Havana, and we Miamians wouldn’t have it
    any other way. Miami is a city more alive than any other, as the vibrant
    tapestry of Hispanic culture is interwoven in every colada, cortadito,
    and café con leche. It is a town that is totally unique and unrivaled.
    One might imagine, then, that I have special insight into the suddenly
    red-hot issue of Cuban-American diplomacy. Unfortunately, I have little
    more insight than any other American watching the news.

    What I do possess, however, is a glimpse into pre-revolution Cuban life.
    I recently returned from a family reunion back home in Miami (quick tip
    from the author: if you are ever extended an invitation to a Cuban
    family reunion; GO). The reunion was filled with loud conversation in
    Cuban (a separate language from Spanish altogether), laughter, plenty of
    flowing alcohol, delicious food and a radiant joy that was likely
    unimaginable to much of the family in the throws of the 1959 revolution.
    Inevitably, story time began.

    The stories of my grandfather always leave me beaming with pride. In his
    youth, his story reads like that of Roy Rogers, walking into town with
    his spurred boots, guitar and Smith and Wesson six-shooter, ready to
    tame the Wild West. Though he passed when I was just six years old, he
    remains forever etched in my memory as an amazing man, respected and
    adored by all. Using sorcery referred to by some as “Google Maps,” we
    were able to locate the ranch in Santiago de Cuba where the entire
    family lived. Just down the street from the original Bacardí ranch, it
    was an enormous piece of land, tended to and cared for by the family. It
    was at this moment that the tone began to change. A silence wholly
    uncharacteristic of Cubans washed over the room, as those who recognized
    the land gazed at the television screen. This was the land they had
    lost. This was the land that was taken. The memories come flooding back,
    and the jovial mood turns angry as they recall what was, and what should
    be still. Inevitably, the suggestion at storming the island with a
    single rifle and re-conquering the land is made, an idea that sounds
    entirely reasonable with the trusty assistance of enough rum. At once,
    however, it is understood that the time to be angry is over, and the
    party resumes.

    The essence of the Cuban people, wrapped in one rambling anecdote, is
    resilience. The resilience to pack up their entire life, get on a plane,
    move to a new country, learn a new language, understand a new culture,
    live as outcasts and still enjoy life to the absolute fullest. The Cuban
    community has since begun to thrive in the United States. Cubans are
    influential in business (Roberto Goizuetta, Jorge Perez), entertainment
    (Andy Garcia, Pitbull, Gloria Estefan, etc), politics (Marco Rubio, Ted
    Cruz, Bob Menendez), diplomacy (Lino Gutierrez, Alabama alumnus), and
    the list goes on. The Cuban people thrive no matter where they are, or
    in what conditions they find themselves. In Cuba, on an unlivable wage
    and with rationing of every human necessity, they display incomparable
    resourcefulness and unflappability. They are ready, willing and able to
    fight for themselves. They will be ready, willing and able to fight for
    their country. They need only a spark.

    There is an old story about the Soviet Union involving an ill-fated
    advertisement about American poverty. As the story goes, the Soviet
    Union was beginning to internally acknowledge that socialism leads to
    overwhelming poverty, and decided to rely on their own propaganda rather
    than trying to fix the problem. As such, they distributed flyers and ran
    advertisements on radio and television of a Great Depression-era family
    in a tiny home huddled around a television in the dead of winter,
    clearly in the depths of extreme American poverty. The Kremlin was
    confident that this would prove that even in the wealthy and
    capitalistic glory of the United States, poverty was equally as
    prevalent and intolerable. The attempts backfired, however, when the
    Soviet citizens began noticing that even in the direst of circumstances,
    the Americans could still afford a television, an almost unattainable
    luxury in the Soviet Union.

    This is what capitalism is capable of. It is capable of lighting a spark
    that pushes the people to, for lack of a better phrase, cast off the
    chains of tyrannical oppression. Cuba is now nearing a defining moment
    in its history. Following the death of Fidel, the last truly visible and
    noteworthy revolutionary, there is little to remind younger generations
    of his revolution. Raúl Castro never had the popularity or charisma of
    his brother, or his associate Che Guevara. As such, his stranglehold and
    that of the Castro regime is fraying. He has allowed telephone services
    into Cuba. He has allowed limited Internet access. He has greatly
    relaxed his grip on all media, even allowing certain publications aside
    from the state-censored Granmá. He has even begun to privatize certain
    sectors of the economy on a case-by-case basis, namely in the restaurant
    and entertainment industry. While he still rules with an iron fist,
    imprisoning and very recently murdering dissidents, he is well aware
    that a new post-Castro age is coming. His actions are those of a worried
    dictator attempting a crash landing rather than a nosedive. In other
    words, he is the 21st Century’s Gorbachev.

    Whether Cuba will fall as the Soviet Union did is difficult to predict.
    On one hand, authoritarian socialism is now and will forever be doomed
    to fail. On the other, Cuba is a relatively irrelevant state on the
    world stage, and lack of international pressure could allow it to
    smolder in its current state for decades. The only thing that is
    inarguable is that capitalism will pave the way for a new Cuba. Whether
    this means lifting the Cuban embargo is up for debate. To lift the
    embargo without any form of reparation claims service for those Cubans
    exiled for what is now approaching 60 years would be a travesty. But to
    condemn the Cuban people to an eternity of socialistic, tyrannical
    misery would be a tragedy.

    Nicolas Briscoe is a is a senior majoring in history. His column runs
    biweekly.

    Source: The future of Cuba is capitalism | The Crimson White –
    www.cw.ua.edu/article/2017/03/the-future-of-cuba-is-capitalism

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