With the start of 2010 just a few hours away, I thought I would end this year writing about a few things I learned in 2009.
Probably the most important thing I learned this year about U.S.-Cuba relations is that it is going to be a slow process towards the goal of normalization, which happens to be what most Americans want. And, also what most academic researchers recommend for policy makers. So, why has it been so difficult to reach normalization? Because of South Florida hardliners and militants that support economic sanctions towards and oppose diplomatic agreements with Cuba.
As you may have read about recently, Florida's leading Senatorial candidates gave speeches at a U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC meeting last week and all publicly gave their support for current U.S. policy towards Cuba, in direct conflict with what most Americans want and what most U.S. experts on the subject suggest.
What occurred last week at the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC meeting is what is called "elitism." You should have seen the photos of the audience because it was basically made up of the most politically influential people in Miami, local media personalities, and (of course) militants like Armando Perez Roura and Ninoska Perez Castellon from Radio Mambi (Univision Radio). But, together they shared one thing: their belief that they (and only they) know what is best for everyone else when it comes to Cuba.
Militants believe that the Cuban government is pure evil, and its destroys everything it touches, and therefore it must be isolated and eventually cut off (overthrown). Hardliners see the Cuban government as untrustworthy and deceptive, therefore its must be dealt with extreme caution and little patience. Agreements can be reached with hardliners, but hardliners are not willing to make any concessions, and are prepared to accept diplomatic stalemates.
In between the spectrum of militancy and the hard-line is where Florida politics currently stands when it comes to U.S. policy towards Cuba. And, I don't think we should expect a change soon.
If 2009 taught me anything, it was that militant and hard-line ideology in South Florida is encouraged and accepted widely in the local Spanish media. From the small Spanish-language newspapers to the various television broadcasts of news and gossip (better defined as propaganda). Militant and hard-line ideology expresses itself daily through these sources and are encouraged by local businesses through their advertising, and sometimes public support of such ideology.
So, does this mean that 2010 will bring the same results of 2009? I doubt it. Small changes within the Cuban exile community have already occurred that conflicted with hard-line and militant ideology, such as the community support given to the Peace Concert in Cuba, and the lifting of travel restrictions. And, more changes are destined to come in 2010. The enclave of the Cuban exile will change, not as a detachment from its painful past, but rather from its attachment to world changes in the future.
But, it will be a slow process. May 2010 bring us closer to what is fair, moral and just.