Opinion: Making America’s Cuba policy a joke again

When you watch today’s Donald Trump back at the Versailles restaurant saying exactly the same thing to mostly the same crowd as in 1999, is there any lesson we Cuban Americans can learn?

Palli column headBy José Manuel Pallí, Esq.

A recent article in the Miami Herald about backlash against Donald Trump after reports of his market scouting in Cuba two decades ago is a testament to the folly of those Cuban Americans in South Florida who have spent their lives betting on the United States and the Organization of American States bringing “freedom” and “democracy” to Cuba.

It should also be a warning to the nationals of other “subjugated” nations in our hemisphere who, from their (temporary?) Miami home, bet on the same type of solutions for their homelands while demonizing those presently running their governments. Whether it is Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, or even Argentina (where a recent paradigm shift resulted in the same polarizing demonization, though from the opposing political corner), demonization is nothing more than the key ingredient of polarization.

The Herald article comes with a video clip showing today’s Republican presidential candidate, back in 1999, speaking at a rally and haranguing a few of our neighbors about the prospects of bringing “freedom” and “democracy” to Cuba. The “amoral con man” — as our two younger Cuban American members of the U.S. Senate called Mr. Trump not too long ago — tells Cuban American National Foundation Chairman Jorge Mas Canosa, right after Jorge’s introduction and under a CANF banner: “I guess that means I get the first hotel in Cuba …, sounds like a pretty good deal”.

If you look closely at the video, I’m sure you’ll find Cuba’s “future” minister of tourism — to be appointed once a U.S.-backed CANF was running the island’s affairs — somewhere in the dais, nodding excitedly. This was almost two decades ago, and countless U.S. politicians have since appeared as pilgrims before the Versailles shrine chanting “Viva Cuba Libre”, “No Castro, no Problem” or other inanities.

When you watch today’s Donald back at the Versailles restaurant saying exactly the same thing to mostly the same crowd, while making American policy towards Cuba a joke again, is there any lesson we Cuban Americans can learn?

The answer is NO: most Cuban Americans are impervious to lessons… Not even the easy ones, such as that anyone who is willing to put in the White House someone he sees as an “amoral con man” with the vocabulary, thought processes and “emotional quotient” of a 12-year old, simply because doing so helps advance his political career, can hardly complain if he himself is regarded as an amoral con man.

As to the OAS under Uruguayan Secretary General Luis Almagro, to see that institution and him as the new paladins of the Cuban exile cause (and of other similar “causes”) is simply seeing what those who thrive on demonizing and polarizing wish to see.

A dear and courageous friend of mine, who has spent her life denouncing the excesses of the Cuban Revolution and fighting the Castro Bros. from the United States, described Mr. Almagro as “just another communist” shortly after his appointment as Secretary General. I see him differently, but not too different from his Chilean predecessor, José Miguel Insulza: both have proved capable and have done as much as possible for a better hemisphere, within the limits and constraints the OAS statutes impose on them.

Sure, Mr. Almagro is more vocal than Mr. Insulza ever was. But vocal only matters when your voice allows you to croon like, say, Ricardo Montaner…

Almagro is on the record saying he would like to see Cuba back in the OAS, even stating that “Cuba has a very positive agenda, including the dialogue with the United States and the fact it keeps good bilateral relations with all countries”.

Mr. Insulza was demonized by many of our professional demonizers who today praise his successor, even if when it counts — or when OAS member countries get down to voting — nothing much has changed in that venerable and limitedly useful institution. But this is simply a Miami pattern, when it comes to our self-proclaimed experts: They are so shallow they cannot even detect their selectivity-induced incoherency.

Thus we have libertarians who support travel and trade bans, liberals and neo-liberals that are truly reactionaries (whether unwittingly or in disguise), and moralists who support those who support Donald Trump after calling him amoral…

Even Carlos Gardel knew better when he tangoed: “Almagro, Almagro of my life, you were the soul of my dreams”….

And the emphasis should be on dreams.

José Manuel Pallí is president of Miami-based World Wide Title. He can be reached a jpalli@wwti.net.

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