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Cuba's taking action to better its future

by Breonnah Colón | editor- in- chief
Tue, Oct 2nd 2018 02:00 pm

The Caribbean is frequently cited at the ideal vacation spot for Americans. With beautiful beaches, tropical fruit and delicious food, it’s hard to blame anyone for fantasizing about the gorgeous days that roll across the shores of caribbean islands. Each day offers an excursion to a luscious forest, a rare trip into once indigenous grounds and let’s not forget the drinks! However, this fanciful thinking tends to take away from the gritty everyday lives locals can have. After all, caribbean islands may be vacation destinations for some, but they serve as homes for many others. 

It should be noted by potential vacationers that these islands have actual communities that don’t merely serve as the backdrop or a #takemeback selfie. Locations such as Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic have long since been a popular go-to for these all too excited to sit at beach, but couldn’t properly pronounce a roadside sign vacationers. 

There’s been an island that has been off-limits for some time, in fact off-limits for longer than many spring vacationers have been alive: Cuba.

The United States has a tendency of depicting countries who go against its own personal standards, even if it was done to stand up for its rights. In the case of Cuban-U.S. relations, there virtually were none for several decades. This was caused in large part due to what is now known as the Cold War and the relationship Russia had with the U.S. In 1959, a Cuban revolutionary, the notorious Fidel Castro overthrew a regime supported by the U.S. and established a socialist state closely allied with the Soviet Union at the time. According to cfr.org, the U.S. did not take kindly to this self-acclaimed governance. The site explains, “during the half century that followed, successive U.S. administrations pursued policies intended to isolate the island country economically and diplomatically. The United States has sanctioned Cuba longer than any other country.”

Castro’s socialists dictatorship didn’t exactly fair well for the Cubans living under his rule, particularly those who went against him. However, this wasn’t necessarily the main issue for the U.S. The reason for the sanctions and isolation imposed on the country mostly had to do with the audacity of a coup going against U.S. influence. Regardless of its reasons, the U.S. severed ties with the island, making it nearly impossible for citizens of either country to travel between the two nations freely. 

This animosity lasted from the end of the 50s until as recently as 2008, when former president Barack Obama took office. Reforms made by both governments allowed for less strict trading and travel policies. The Obama administration not only removed Cuba from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s “blacklist,” which counted the island amongst a list of other countries labeled as sponsors of terrorism, but also worked with the Cuban government to re-establish embassies. Obama’s work paid off, with him being the first U.S. president to visit the island since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.

As impactful as the changes regarding the U.S. and Cuban relations have been, it only touches the surface of changes the country is undergoing. Cuba is a third-world country and has been run under a strict socialist dictatorship, a situation which doesn’t bode well for most countries. Due to lack to trading options and a very strict government with harsh rules, the country doesn’t have much money, a cost felt the most by citizens. One example of the daily struggle felt by poorer Cubans is the fact that the country’s government has cut funds for sanitation trucks. According to cibercuba.com, officials made drastic cuts due to alleged high costs. The increase of sanitation trucks didn’t impact the amount of garbage produced, though. The end result is much more garbage littering the streets. 

However, not all changes being made are negative, Al Jazeera explained earlier in the year the Cuban government is working to re-draft its constitution. The new draft, which will be sent out for a “popular consultation” if approved, doesn’t include a strict goal to further establish a communist society, opting to focus on socialism instead. The new constitution also allegedly hints at the possibility of being open to gay marriage. 

Cuba still has a long way to go. Being isolated from the world certainly has had some limiting effects on both the growth of the country and its people. However, change is in the air and the country has a bright future to look forward to. As Americans it is our duty to remain knowledgeable of our interactions with other countries and the lasting impacts we have on them. Many people’s tropical getaways are the actual homes for thousands of others and it is our duty to respect not just the culture, but also the history of those who make up the other America.

 

stylus@brockport.edu | @b_co___