January 23, 2011

Unlike many conservatives down in the South Florida region, the recent decision by the Obama administration to loosen travel restrictions to Cuba doesn’t bother me much – in fact I embrace it and give ol’ Barack kudos for taking such a low risk / high reward bet on Cuba’s future. The irrefutable fact that the Castro regime has begun to show increasing boldness to introduce free-market reforms into its economy deserves some kind of reciprocation on our part as a reward for taking such steps.

(Before I go any further, I understand completely that the Castros motives have little to do with any admission of failure or rejection of socialism and everything to do with the end of the Cold War, the demise of the Soviet Union, and Russia’s waning interest in propping up the corrupt Castro regime and Cuba’s overall economy. As a result, the Castros had little choice but to loosen their control if they wanted to avoid a complete collapse of the Cuba’s economy, and, with that undoubtedly, their outdated and obsolete totalitarian regime.)

Like many, I’m guessing, Cuba has always held a fascination to me since I was a young boy, but I don’t exactly know why. Maybe it was the image of a mysterious, forbidden tropical paradise just 90 miles from Key West: so near and yet so far. The 1963 missile crisis, the Kennedy assassination, Watergate, Hemingway – all with that mysterious Cuban connection. Or maybe it was as innocuous as watching Desi Arnaz on “I love Lucy”. I clearly remember The Sandpipers’ hit “Guantanamera” stirring my imagination of Cuba and dreams of rain forests, mountains, palm trees, and faraway places – heady stuff for kid growing up in Massachusetts.

So the seed was planted somehow, ultimately leading me to the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, movies like Andy Garcia’s “The Lost City” (one of my all-time favorites) and fine books like T.J. English’s fine “Havana Nocturne” and Tom Gjeltin’s “Bacardi and the Long Fight For Cuba”.

I remember one of our cruises and watching, as we drifted past Cuba, our ship being approached by Cuban patrol boats. So near and yet so far. A jewel just waiting to be discovered once again, perhaps in a way where the whole island could prosper once again, and free.

I’m often critical of the Obama administration, but not in this case. My hope is that by opening the door ever so slightly that Americans will go to Cuba and bring their money with them. As someone who takes not for granted just what freedom and capitalism mean, I am convinced that once the free-market door is open in Cuba there will be no going back. There is a time to put pressure on the Cuban regime and a time to take the foot off the brake, and now is the time for the latter. If, somehoe, Cuba were to slide back on its economic reforms, we can always close the door again, but I doubt that will be the case. The opening of Cuba to the rest of the world will come within the next decade – there’s simply too much money to be made through travel and tourism. I only pray that someday I might know what it’s like to step on Cuban soil and see my dream of visiting this magical island realized.

Until then…

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:48 | Comments (4)
  1. Until then, just sit back and drink Mojitos and come visit me so we can go eat at one of THREE of Marcos’ restaurants. Going to the newest one for my birthday in March…He asks about you every time I see him. One of the great success stories of all time and you were part of making his dream come true…so, if you and Tracey go to Cuba one day,I am coming along. I have always loved the idea of going there and I too love the The Lost City.

    Comment by Jana — January 23, 2011 @ 6:44 am

  2. As for Cuba, you’ve got yourself a deal! Maybe I should come to the opening of Marcos’ third restaurant. His is the absolute great American dream story, and I’ve been meaning to blog about it for some time. He did all the work, all I did was co-sign on an auto loan for him. 🙂

    Comment by The Great White Shank — January 23, 2011 @ 10:56 pm

  3. The third restaurant has been open since last May and a HUGE success…has a big outdoor patio, music on certain nights….and as usual, the food and drinks are the best in town. They are consistently in the top 10 places to eat here…Louisville is only 2nd to Boulder for great Ethnic restaurants…we got a mention in Bon Apetitte magazine for just that.

    Comment by Jana — January 24, 2011 @ 6:19 am

  4. Pack your bags!


    I have also thought that Cuba would be an amazing place to visit, kind of like going through a time warp. My concern is that once travel is legal for US residents, it won’t be long before Cuba is no longer Cuba and the reasons for going there will be lost.

    Or, maybe I’m just over estimating the US influence. I mean, Canadians and the rest of the world can and do vacation there and that hasn’t ‘destroyed’ the look and feel yet. Hopefully that will continue to be true as more and more Americans visit…(if that ever really happens.)

    Comment by Dan — May 22, 2011 @ 5:29 pm

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