From Guantanamo (the prison) to “Gauntanamera” (the song), We the People are witnessing the American foreign policy turn to guano in Cuba, with our heedless leader putting us in greater danger, diminishing liberty and enshrining tyranny. Hijole!
This past week, Barack Obama became the first American president to visit the ostracized Caribbean nation in nearly 90 years. Dictatorships, collusion with communists, persecutions, insurrections, failed revolutions, and an unstable, tropical autarchy assured that the United States would avoid entanglements with the former Spanish colony. The Bay of Pigs invasion—turned fiasco—could not unravel the political nightmare still brooding over Cuba.
Cuba’s disturbing history is not limited to this century, of course. In the early 1800s, filibusters (roving pirates) wanted to take it over from the Spanish Empire. Slaveholders had designs on it up to the Civil War. “Remember the Maine” was the rallying cry of the United States when the United States declared war on Spain, and fought on Cuban soil.
Today, a final yet lingering relic of repressive authoritarianism and chaos reigns the island. Seeking political relief, millions of Cubans have fled their homeland. In 2016, two Republican Presidential candidates of Cuban descent have repeatedly opposed Obama’s hasty pursuit of diplomatic normalcy with the country.
The last American President to visit Cuba? Calvin Coolidge, who sailed over … in a battleship. The former governor of Massachusetts had stood up to public sector unions on strike. He said nothing to federal lobbyists, literally, and turned away their fawning efforts. He drastically cut the size and scope of the state. He was a conservatives’ conservative.
And now …
Look at who’s heading the nation, and headed off to Cuba. The purported leader of the free world has come to one of the most enslaved. Instead of roaring, adoring crowds, protesters crammed the streets demanding liberty. And like any neat and tidy dictatorship, Raul Castro had them all arrested.
A few well-minded critics have asked: “If Obama goes to Cuba, is there any chance he will come back?” After all, the ideological leanings of the two leaders are so similar!
No better sign of the infamous times describes the current failure of Obama than an incidental and accidental photo set-up. And the unintentional consequences have followed.
Obama stood with arms dangling down, shoulder to shoulder with other heads of state, male and female, diverse as expected in the audience of two leaders with strong, collectivist leanings. Behind them frowned the mural of one of the most misrepresented, sanitized, and false symbols in modern political history: a stark, stenciled portrait of Ernesto “Che” Guevara. The embarrassing photo particularly sparked anger and frustration from Americans, including those who descended from those Cuban migrant masses yearning to be free. Justly, Obama’s visit has been mocked on many levels.
Romanticized beyond belief (and facts), the cut-out cut-throat Che Guevara has his own storied history. He began as a failed, bleeding heart medical student, turned savage revolutionary. So much for “First, do no harm.”
Here are some other fun facts about Fidel Castro’s chief Rottweiler:
1. As a failed medical student from Argentina, he was radicalized following his university education and heart-wrenching efforts in leper colonies.
2. He was an unapologetic racist. Here are some of his most offensive remarks:
"We're going to do for blacks exactly what blacks did for the revolution. By which I mean: nothing".
This one is really offensive:
“The black is indolent and a dreamer; spending his meager wage on frivolity or drink; the European has a tradition of work and saving, which has pursued him as far as this corner of America and drives him to advance himself, even independently of his own individual aspirations.”
How can the first black president stand under such invidious discrimination?
3. Che was a blood-thirsty sadist and mass-murderer, and had no problem hiding it:
“A revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate.”
In Cuba, fostering Fidel Castro’s Soviet-like takeover, Che forced men and women into slave labor camps. Combined with the number of people he personally killed, around 14,000 died at Che’s hands.
4. He was a self-serving, opportunistic coward to the end. After he was captured by American and Bolivian forces, Che tried to sell out his comrades to preserve his own life. Before his execution for attempting to stage another Communist coup, he pleaded for his life: “I am worth more to you dead than alive.”
Indeed, Che helped Fidel topple the corrupt Bautista regime in 1959, since Castro relied on this violent Communistic enforcer to impose a more corrupt, violent, and repressive regime on the Cuban people. Fast forward 50 years, and the world is witnessing the American President, supposed to represent the land of the free and the home of the brave, standing underneath an ethereal homage to the spoiled brat democratic demagogue.
Cuban dissidents who fled to Florida have openly excoriated this diplomatic myopia. Within hours of Obama’s arrival, more protesters were arrested and locked up out of sight. The Cuban dictator Raul Castro (taking over for frail older brother Fidel, now in retirement) snorted then rebuffed Obama’s weak demands for more liberty: "Tell me now. What political prisoners? Give me a name, or the names. And if there are these political prisoners they will be free before nightfall."
One prisoner did leave—the president, who remains enchained to the fantasy that a diminished America will mean an augmented, more free and prosperous Cuba.
In short, I concur with US Senator Ted Cruz’s sober assessment of Obama’s historic (and infamous) visit to Cuba: “Today is a sad day in America.” I would call it Obama’s “Che”nge for the Worse.