Cuba: not the monster everyone is afraid of

By on March 21, 2002

About 90 miles off the coast of Florida lays the largest island in the Carribean, with the cleanest beaches, clearest water and fewest tourists crowding these amazing shorelines. The island is Cuba.
Its area covers 44,200 square miles which is about the size of Pennsylvania. Yet the United States thinks this small impoverished, struggling island nation is an enemy to still ignore.
The U.S. and Cuba once had a manageable relationship, but this has not been the case for more than 40 years. Cuba is an undersized nation that desperately will sacrifice everything for its independence, and this is something the U.S. should respect and understand.
The U.S. was once a colony of England and fought for its independence just as Cuba was once a colony of Spain and fought for its independence. The U.S. did side with Cuba when it was a colony under Spain, but then when Cuba won its independence the U.S. pushed the 1901 Platt Amendment to be included into the Cuban Constitution.
The Platt Amendment contradicted Cuban independence since it demanded three main things from Cuba. The first was two military bases to be built, one in the south at Guantanamo Bay and the other in the west.
How can a nation be truly free if the U.S. builds and maintains military bases on the soil? The second clause was Cuba could take on no debts or treaties without consulting the U.S. What kind of free nation has to ask the U.S. permission for its financial decisions?
The third and final part of the Platt Amendment was that the U.S. reserves the right to intervene in Cuba when it felt it was necessary. The U.S. felt it should intevene when it could make a profit off of Cuba. Cuba had no real choice and put the Platt Amendment in its Constitution and on May 20, 1902 Cuba became independent.
The government’s Cuba had after 1902 were not very successful and created much unrest on the island. Now Cuba is a Communist state and has had the same President since 1959. Fidel Castro Ruz is considered to be the head of the state and the government.
When Castro came into power and declared Cuba a Communist state, the United States imposed a trade embargo against Cuba in 1964. The main reasons Castro and his revolutions have lasted so long is due to its initial successes it made in alleviating poverty, providing free education and health care. His revolution also drove the Cuban state to take control over its own sugar industry which in the 1940’s was controlled mostly by U.S. companies who had seized it in unfair practices.
Both the United States and Cuba have made mistakes, but it is time to make a step forward and try again.
I recently visited Cuba as a Quinnipiac University student studying on Semester at Sea, sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh. I feel priveledged to have seen a nation with this extraordinary rare case living, and gong about its daily existence.
I spent five days in Cuba, traveling from Havana each day to see different parts of the country and most importantly talking to different people. I guess being brought up in the United States I never gave a second thought to questioning the way the U.S. has treated Cuba.
Ignoring a problem is not a way to solve it. It only grows and makes it more difficult to tackle later. After meeting many Cubans of all ages and economic conditions, I see the problem with Cuba, and it has only been sitting on the backburner of America’s stove festering and it needs to be dealt with before it is too late.
Most Americans are not aware that the average Cuban whether a doctor, teacher, police officer or cigar roller makes between $15 and $35 a month.
Long lines, rationing and a lack of choice are a fact of life and many simple necessities of life have been eliminated, or are very hard to obtain.
Cuba imports goods from countries such as Spain, Venezuela and Mexico and exports to Russia, the Netherlands and Canada.
Cuba desperately needs the United States to drop the outdated trade embargo. It is a failed amendment and anyone who visits can see this. The United Nations vote every year unanimously to drop the trade embargo against Cuba, but the U.S. pays no attention to the request.
Going to Cuba is like taking a step back in time. Most buildings, cars and structures are just as they were in 1959. People conserve everything for basic daily survival. The average Cuban life is one of struggle, hardship and desperation being so close to the land of plenty in the U.S., but being so far from doing anything about it.
This article is just to make you stop and think that in the United States we are quick to complain and get upset over trivial things that do not really matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.
We should be grateful for everything we have in the United States and remember those who are not as fortunate and have no control over their situation.


About Sarah Papsun- Contributing Wri