In 1898, the USS Maine sank after an explosion at Havana. This marked the beginning of Spanish-American War. The war concluded as US victory and Spain handed over Cuba to United States. This is also when the US naval base was installed in Guantanamo. For the next three years, US put Cuba under military administration, and the primary functions of Cuban government came to be controlled by US capital. The Cuban upper class who studied in the United States went back to Cuba to assume the role of the ruling class, backed by US powers. The Cuban government heavily relied on United States while alienating its own people like any other decolonized states that gained power with the aid of a larger empire (e.g. Philippines, Vietnam, Iran, Korea). In January of 1959, Fidel Castro’s revolution succeeded in overthrowing Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship.  Castro then proceeded to confiscate all foreign capitals within Cuba and severe diplomatic ties with the United States (January 1961). This created a problem for US which had just declared a war on communism in response to the Korean War. After much thought, US devised a plan to invade Bay of Pigs by recruiting Cuban exiles who had fled to United States and training them into guerilla fighters. US recruited 1,500 Cuban exiles in Miami. Although the recruitment was supposed to be a secret, it did not take long for Castro to learn about the United States’ scheme. Castro had his younger brother, Raul Castro (the current President of the Council of Cuba), who was an expert in guerilla warfare, and his most trusted fellow revolutionary Che Guevara to support him. The invasion was carried out on July 15th, 1961, and the operation soon proved to be a mistake. President Kennedy’s plan to fabricate the invasion as an independent action on part of the Cuban exiles was exposed to the world. The invaders were eradicated by Castro’s revolutionary army, with 118 killed and 1189 captured. Kennedy ended up paying 5,300,000 dollars to Castro administration in exchange for 1100 prisoners of war. Castro’s government was solidified and strengthened as a result.

 

It was only natural for the newly found nation of Cuba to rely on the Soviet Union in response to the blatant threats from the US. And it believed that placing the Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba would fend off American military aggression. The situation quickly escalated and the world was soon engulfed in the fear of a full-scale nuclear war. After tense negotiations, United States and the Soviet Union reached an agreement, with the Soviets returning their weapons in Cuba to the Soviet Union and the United States declaring an agreement to never invade Cuba without direct provocation. The Cuban Missile Crisis set the tone for United States policy toward Cuba. CIA under President Kennedy authorized Operation Mongoose to assassinate Castro in secret, and openly pushed for isolation of Cuba. Cuban exiles in the United States lobbied the Congress intensely to overthrow Castro’s government as well. Approximately 1,200,000 exiles escaped from Cuba to United States into mid 1990’s. Most of them settled in Florida and New York. Bob Menendez, New Jersey Senator and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, is son of Mario Menendez, who escaped Cuba in 1952. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is a former Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and played a big role in convincing her fellow Republican congress members to support the Comfort Women Resolution, is a Cuban immigrant herself. Marco Rubio, junior United States Senator from Florida and a GOP hopeful for presidential candidate, is also a son of a Cuban immigrant. The fervor of the Cuban American community to stop communization of their home country is almost awe-inspiring. The mainstream media never forgets to mention Cuban Americans along with Jewish Americans in its discussion of immigrant groups with large political influence.

 

United States and Cuba have declared normalization of their diplomatic relations for the first time in 53 years. Immediately after his re-election in 2012, President Obama instructed his advisory staffs to “think big” when it comes to US relations with hostile countries, mainly referring to Iran, Cuba, and North Korea. The normalization is the result of nine secret meetings held since last June. Raul Castro, who saw sincerity in Obama when he sent his closes advisor to the negotiations, reciprocated the gesture by sending his henchman to represent him as well. The two countries reached their agreement as they exchanged three Cubans imprisoned for espionage, and one American spy imprisoned in Cuba. This was announced simultaneously in Havana and Washington DC.

Experts had already foreseen such outcome when the footage of Raul Castro shaking hands with Obama at Nelson Mandela’s funeral aired worldwide.  Obama’s bold move to settle the past has resulted in another historical feat.  US nuclear negotiation with Iran, a country formerly defined by Obama as an enemy state, has reached a final stage.  The one remaining place is the Korean peninsula.  North Korea is the only country that is being neglected. There is no other person who is pacifist enough to attempt negotiations with the hermit empire as Obama. I am probably not the only one who is wondering what US’s next move on North Korea would be, or even entertain the idea that there are already secret exchanges going on between the two nations…

Categories: Column / Opinion
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