“Normalization” of Cuba/US Relations

December 17, 2015 is a day that will not be easily forgotten in Cuba. That day, it was announced that Cuba and the US would begin negotiations to normalize their political relationship after 54 years of prickly isolation. Everyone I talked to was excited, even ecstatic. Diplomatic relations, embassies, consuls, relaxation of travel restrictions, hopefully even an end to the terrible US trade embargo so punishing to Cuba–all could be on the table for review, all might be possible to change. All might be so much better after many years of isolation from a neighbour a mere 90 miles away.

While I could understand such enthusiasm, I also was concerned about the integrity of those things for which Cuba had fought and made a Revolution. The US is not a fan of Cuba, does not celebrate their universal education system which enables anyone capable of passing the exams to acquire whatever level of education they aspire to without it costing a cent. And though some of the hospitals are shabby and short of materials, health care is absolutely gratis. Child day care is free. Public transportation is cheap. While racism exists, it’s negligible compared to the US. Cuba has much to gain, but it also has much to lose. We can only hope that Cuba and Cubans will not be dazzled and overwhelmed by the promise of material goods that have been lacking for a long time. We hope they will not “sell out”. Some things are worth more.

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