Thursday, August 2, 2007

More Thoughts a Year Later...

Yesterday, Miami Herald columnist Ana Menendez shared her thoughts on the one-year mark without Fidel Castro. Reading her columns in the past, I've found Menendez to sometimes be unsympathetic on some issues. In this case, Menendez makes a comment about how (among other factors) a future Cuba "will depend on us here in Miami and our willingness to let go of the dusty language and habits of nostalgia."

Based on her past work, Menendez is obviously referring to some in the Cuban exile community, not Miami in general as suggested by her generalities from the start. I don't see how focusing on such emotional elements will get us anywhere. It's language and nostalgia that have been some of the defining qualities of the Cuban exile. They are important bonds of any social identity. To "let go" of those things would be tragic.

But, further down in her column, Menendez does provide us with a pragmatic model to follow: "a humane policy... built on more than a catalog of grievances." She's referring to a 2006 report [PDF] by the Cuba Study Group (CSG) which proposes micro-economic reforms for a Cuban transition. According to the CSG, "Cuba is already in a suboptimal pre-transformation state." In other words, "the stakes are high" in preventing Cuba from serious economic collapse. The CSG report makes a lot of recommendations (for the Cuba government I suppose), but it doesn't say to whom or how or when it shall implement them. It just suggests. But, the report can also be seen as an emergency plan available AFTER some kind of collapse, or "economic transformation" as they like to say. The CSG also mentions that "[t]he plan relies, in part, on the economic theories of the noted Peruvian economist, Hernando de Soto." This will definitely send warnings to those who are well aware of the current income gap in Peru, where De Soto is currently at the service of the Garcia administration.

Nevertheless, Menendez believes Miami and the US need "really new ideas" and the CSG report provides a notable example. She ends saying that Cuban government should "finally get past their paranoia and allow the future to take shape, it will be evidence they truly care for the ordinary Cuban people. If we [the USA or us in Miami] can get past ours, it will show we do too."

She's a bit vague, but I agree that a sense of paranoia does surround thinking on the US/Cuba issue. Namely, the idea that the Cuban government is bent on eventually destroying us freedom-loving people. Or, the idea that the US is currently ready to engage in a military invasion of Cuba. Such ideas over the years have created false assumptions and have led to the "tragic inability to find common ground" that Menendez believes is at "the roots of our misery."

[Photo above of entrance to Calle Ocho, Little Havana]

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