Cuba – and conversations that may be helpful
When I think of Cuba, I think of the missile crisis of the early 1960s, a memory that brings shakes recalling worries as a child that our country had weapons of mass destruction pointed at it from a place nearly visible from Florida.
President Kennedy had the daunting task of making sure that did not happen, scaling some rugged foreign policy terrain while we all wondered when the missiles might be soaring over our heads.
My wife recalls her disaster drills in elementary school in the Tampa Bay area and being taught to get under a desk and tuck her knees to protect her neck in the event of an air strike.
Fast forward to the summer of 2021 and a new wave of chaos in Cuba, where citizens have learned of the farce of government their revolution and ensuing dictatorship has produced.
And they have had enough.
They suspect there is something more they can have – freedom, democracy, capitalism. That’s the same thing the country 90 miles to the north – the United States – has. They know because many family members have made it there by various dangerous means and experienced the difference between freedom and the lack of it.
And so they are demanding freedom. And they are waving American flags in the process.
It feels like freedom’s time has come to Cuba.
And with it, there are a few overdue conversations to be had with people in this country who apparently did not get the messages of World War II, Sept. 11, 2001, and other threats to freedom and democracy that have visited our country.
What a blessing it would be for those disgruntled Georgetown students whose viral video shaming of this country made July 4 headlines to speak with those marching for freedom in Cuba.
Imagine just one class with an objective professor bringing in one of the Cuban freedom seekers to talk about what being under a government dictatorship feels like and what they perceive America to be.
Maybe when the Olympics are over, the women’s soccer team that knelt at midfield to start the Olympics should spend a few minutes speaking with naturalized Cuban-Americans demonstrating at the White House and in Florida.
They demonstrate without knowing what oppression and inequality really look like and feel like.
Maybe some of those antifa and Black Lives Matter demonstrators who have violently disrupted and damaged major cities for a year need a conversation with Maximo Alvarez.
Following the historic protests against communism in Cuba, Black Lives Matter demanded the Biden administration end the embargo they say is “costing the tiny island nation an estimated $130 billion.”
But Maximo, who escaped Cuba as a child, knows differently.
“They have bragged publicly of being Marxists/Leninists. This country needs to take over because communists do not leave. They will never relinquish power. And if you don’t smile, they will kill you.”
Since arriving in the United States at the age of 13 as part of Operation Pedro Pan, Alvarez has lived the “American dream.”
Today, he lives in Miami, Florida. He is a director on the board of trustees at Florida State University and president of Sunshine Gasoline Distributors.
Having grown up in socialism, Alvarez recognizes the seeds some are planting in his adopted country.
“The useful idiots, the big corporations, keep sending them money because they think they are going to be spared,” Alvarez warned. “The more money you send them and the more you protect them, the sooner you put them in power and the quicker you are going to fall.”
“Like Churchill said,” Alvarez noted, “socialism is the equal distribution of misery.”
Alvarez is not fooled by claims the Cuban people are protesting food shortages and the government’s poor handling of the COVID virus. He hears the chants, “we want change,” “down with the dictatorship,” “we want freedom” and “we are no longer afraid,” and knows it is the communist government the Cuban people are fed up with.
“I wish that this could be a lesson to our academia and our young people,” Alvarez said, “how foreign countries and people who have lost their freedom idolize our country and our flag. This is the country that has accepted all of us (immigrants).”
Perhaps the White House can speak to Alvarez to better understand why all the attempted boat crossings of those 90 miles only seem to go in one direction.
Then they can explain why they are so hesitant to force change in Cuba, even as Russia, China and other rogue nations establish their version of government there.
Those under the age of 40 probably don’t realize the threat enemies in Cuba could present.
And it’s painfully obvious the typical college student is too busy digesting indoctrination about this country’s flaws to get it.
The rest of us – the president, vice president, administration, military and diplomatic leaders, Congress and the influence peddlers in our colleges and corporate world – have no excuse.
David F. Troisi retired as editor of the Sun-Gazette. None of the opinions expressed necessarily represent the views of the Sun-Gazette.