US finally acknowledges victory of Cuban revolution
By announcing that the United States would restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba, that discussions with Cuba would immediately re-open and work to re-establish an embassy in Havana in the coming months, US President Barack Obama announced the most significant shift in policy towards Cuba in more than 50 years.
"We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalise relations between our two countries," said Obama. "These 50 years have shown, isolation has not worked. It's time for a new approach."
Furthermore, Obama said that he had instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to review Cuba's designation as a state sponsor of terror, a foolhardy and baseless designation announced in 1982 under the ultra-conservative President Ronald Reagan to placate his right-wing base.
Before wading into what it all means, it behooves us to set the record straight from the start. Since January 8, 1959, the day Fidel Castro and other Cuban revolutionaries - including the most iconic, Che Guevara (whom Castro described as "a more advanced revolutionary than I was") - entered Havana, the United States has spared nothing to thwart the Cuban Revolution, including invasion, dozens of assassination attempts on Castro himself and hundreds of ploys to undermine Cuba and destabilise it.
From the Bay of Pigs Invasion, in which the CIA sent an invading force made up of US-based Cuban exiles known as Brigade 2056 and US soldiers (along with eight B-26 bombers) between April 17-19, 1961 - which was soundly repulsed by the Cuban Revolutionary Forces - to repeated assassination attempts against Castro by means of exploding cigars, poison and toxic gases among other outlandish methods. The plan was hatched by the administration of Republican President Dwight Eisenhower and authorised by the young, newly elected American Democratic President John Kennedy, within three months of assuming office.
Not to forget that the CIA doggedly pursued Che Guevara across the world until it finally managed, with its Bolivian auxiliary quislings, to capture and criminally execute him on the spot on October 9, 1967.
Some may like to suggest that Obama is closing the book on the single most stupid aspect of US foreign policy; the American embargo on any diplomatic or commercial dealings with Cuba at a time in which the US has had normalised relations with China for close to forty years. Certainly the right-wing and Republicans of all shades and colours (as well as many Democrats) loudly fumed and expressed their anger at the outrageous Obama for daring to commit such audacity.
The centre-right, like the Washington Post and the establishment it represents, expressed annoyance at Obama for "rewarding Cuban regime brutality" while the more liberal, as represented by the likes of the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, praised Obama's courage and willingness to discard a failed passé policy.
They went as far as saying that, even though Obama's foreign policy decisions have been precarious and should be criticised for their strategic shallowness and lack of coherency, in the case of Cuba his actions are pure realism. That an honest review of the embargo against Cuba would show little in the way of results and was even "counterproductive in achieving a more fair and democratic government in the island nation".
If any foreign policy has passed its expiration date, it is the US Cuba policy.
One senior administration official told journalists on background: "If any foreign policy has passed its expiration date, it is the US Cuba policy."
None however, seem to spotlight (or dare acknowledge) the truth that Obama's decision is no less a momentous event than the acknowledgement of the victory of the Cuban revolution.
Here is why. The United States' hostile policy towards Cuba, the original disatrous "regime change" policy, not only failed, but in fact has been defeated. The proof is clearly underlined by the US indulging in a painstakingly secret series of negotiations conducted in Canada and The Vatican over 18 months, before making a public 180-degree turn, and announcing it was resuming diplomatic and other normalised "civilised" relations with Cuba after spending decades of scheming and hundreds of millions of dollars on counter-revolutionary frenzies, overtly and covertly to topple Castro and the revolution, with both Castros, the Cuban revolution and communism, not only having weathered all the challenges over the past five decades, but, in fact, thriving.
Maybe not "thriving" by American hyper-capitalist standards, but certainly in the kind of Cuba where illiteracy is non-existent, and the whole population is afforded one of the best healthcare systems known to the human race. Not only that, but Cuba led, and continues to lead the international community in the dispatching of medical professionals to fight ebola, while its record in the fight against HIV/AIDS is worldwide and world-renowned.
Cuba even gets high marks and stands at the upper layer of the United Nations' Human Development Index despite the relentlessly daunting American embargo.
Third world populations can look to Cuba as a champion in the fight against colonialism and apartheid, which helped bring about their global demise (except in Palestine). They can look to Cuba to learn how this island nation of eleven million people was able to train a new generation of professionals in all fields without exception, maintaining both national dignity and integrity of governance.
That is not to say that criticising the Cuban Revolution by international progressives is illegitimate; far from it. To be sure, there are major flaws and failures that Cuba under Castro faced under siege by the Goliath empire to the north. But no one can deny that Cuba was able to resist persistently and to prevail.
What lessons can the oppressed people, especially the Arabs, and particularly the Palestinians, draw from the Cuban example? Many. But the primary lesson is that they can resist; that salvation lies in their ability to steadfastly cling to their commitment to the justice of their cause and their principles, and not in the constant acquiescence to American pressure, or being swung eternally into futile negotiations, all the while their rights - human, civil and national - are gnawed away by a brutal colonialist bent on their destruction and the denial of their humanity.
Finally, President Obama is to be applauded for having kept his word, despite the unrelenting scepticism from the mainstream and liberal media, and the outright belligerence from the right-wing that believes it has a God-given right to maintain a chokehold on US policy towards Cuba.
He is also to be applauded for the impressive utter secrecy under which these negotiations were conducted in a chronically leak-inclined environment, although he didn't acknowledge that much of the energy expended in these tough negotiations was expended for the release of Alan Gross, held in Cuba on a charge of spying, who travelled to Havana five times, reportedly to secretly distribute satellite phones, computers and other communications equipment to individuals in Havana before he was arrested in 2009.
Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.