Raul Castro: A Healing Angel for America?

It was good to see President Obama in Cuba this week trying to heal the 30 year old split between our two countries. 

However, I can’t help but smile when politicians and pundits in American get all puffed up and self-righteous, and deign to lecture other countries like Cuba on human rights as if we were squeaky clean on this issue. 

We are not – not by a long chalk! Neither past or present.

Never mind that we have never apologized, let alone atoned for having supported, institutionalized, and even fought a war to maintain a brutal system of slavery for over 200 years.

Put aside also, the fact that America followed that sorry story up with yet another period during which Jim Crow rules enforced and institutionalized racial segregation, the cruel and inhuman subjugation of blacks for decades, and that recent events show is still part of life for blacks today.

Let’s ignore the fact that, as Bernie Sanders – God bless him – has been repeatedly reminding us these last few months, that America incarcerates more people than all the other countries in the world combined, most of them poor blacks. 

Is that not without human rights implications?

Ah, but they are not political prisoners, you might say. Really? Come on! Think about it.

Politicians who like to portray themselves as being guardians of our collective morality, while ignoring their own in many cases, have consistently passed laws that target the poor, the under-represented, and the dispossessed.  

No human rights issues there, right?

They impose long, minimum sentences for things like minor drug offenses, for which one in five blacks serve time at some time in their lives, while making sure that rich people get away scot-free, having committed much the same drug-use ‘crime.’ (Crack versus cocaine.)

Is that non-political, or what? 

(Note: In Portugal they have decriminalized all drugs totally. Drug use and drug related crimes have gone way down.  Try selling that idea to Republican politicians!)

We have come to accept that rich and influential people who are able to buy off the politicians know they can commit, with 100% impunity, all sorts of financial and business related crimes, swindles, and shenanigans that ruin the lives of millions of people without ever being held accountable. Is that non-political?

Here’s another reason why we can’t play the ‘non-political’ card. 

Unlike most European countries, many States in the U.S., especially the 12 with the most stringent restrictions, deny voting rights forever to felons who have served their prison sentences.

How jolly convenient! 

Think how tempting it might be if you are a Republican politician concerned about your re-election to pass laws and do everything you can to maintain a corrupt legal system that will ensure that over 6 million people in America, likely to vote Democratic, are permanently prevented from voting. Hmm!

Don’t mention any of this to Raul Castro, though. He might be tempted throw some of our **s__t** back in our face. Then we might have to look at our own sorry record of human rights, then look in the mirror and have to ‘eat crow.’ 

You know the principle; IF YOU SPOT IT, YOU GOT IT! Castro, and others like him who abuse human rights, show us how hypocritical we are on this issue, and that we have a lot to forgive ourselves for. When will we ever do it?

11 thoughts on “Raul Castro: A Healing Angel for America?

  1. Donna

    Yes, every country and person has imperfections to account for and change.
    But, these political advertisements for Bernie or Hillary are preposterous. For
    some of us who know the realities in Communist countries, have suffered under
    them and/or spent time in these countries, it is a preposterous and false analogy
    to equate Communist or Totalitarian regimes with ours.

    The most accurate thing to say would be that our country under the current liberal Democratic regime has
    increased its likenesses to tyranny, fascism, communism, atheistic socialism etc.
    due to leftist liberal Democratic propaganda that every Communist regime employs upon inception:
    The Wolf in Sheep’s clothing rhetoric about universal coverage and universal brotherhood,
    that engenders class and race warfare, promising welfare entitlements which the public
    ultimately end of paying astronomical taxes for, eroding the family unit and religious freedom,
    as well as other freedoms such as the right to free speech, the right to assembly, the right to bear arms,
    parental rights for the family unit, the rights of private property, the rights of states/schools and teachers to work
    with their own curriculum rather than a federal takeover (Common Core Curriculum) to control
    its citizenry for the state’s agenda and brainwashing, etc. Every totalitarian nation has
    usurped these rights and freedoms and nationalized control over education..

    Having lived in the former Soviet Union as well as interviewing numerous Russians and
    those having lived under Communist regimes in places like Nicaragua, no one living in these
    countries would be so preposterous as to diminish America while upholding the lie that
    these regimes haven’t had the all-time record for human rights violations, slavery, torture,
    oppression of basic freedoms to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the totalitarian nightmare.

    Look at why people are always trying to leave North Korea, Cuba, Syria, Iran, still Russia, and why few leave America.

    1. Deborah Lander

      Although I have a thousand and one things – a million and one things – to respond to each line item here, in regards to this reply about the Democratic party taking over as Communists I will refrain. I didn’t read this article to mean that America is better or worse than Cuba – only that we have big human rights issues here while we point fingers at Raul Castro. It’s easier I guess for people to miss this fact, because there are two very different American experiences. If you are white like me, life is relatively fair and just and free in comparison to Cuba. If you have black or brown skin, your life experience was most likely very, very different here. I would love to explain and give evidence for hours how what I am saying is true, but the facts have always been there and we either choose to acknowledge these facts or we deny them. And then what to do once we recognize that our life – with all its pain – still had so much built-in advantage compared to others. Do I hate myself for this advantage? No. (Though I could probably do some forgiveness exercises around this – ha!) This is the life all should have – white, black, brown, Cuban, Russian – everyone. The sooner we acknowledge the differences in the American experience, the sooner we can start to change this. This is a well-articulated and thoughtful article and I can’t wait to share it. At some point we will need to be able to distinguish the wolf-in-sheep’s clothing so to speak from the genuine leader who’s only propaganda is to help more people live freely. We can start by looking at their professional history and conduct very closely to know the difference.

      1. Donna

        Thank you for sharing how you respond so authentically to yourself. One of the points to consider is the fact of seeing on film Cuban peaceful protestors (the ladies in white) being carted away and arrested by the Cuban govt.. Some of them had husbands who were political prisoners. Then, as we heard directly from Raoul Castro, he says to the world: “What political prisoners? Do we have any? Do you know their names?” This is the height of Orwellian doublespeak and propaganda in the face of human suffering. As some leaders have said, if there was any mention of decreasing the monstrous human rights abuses and becoming a more humane, and democratic country, an
        American leader could be engaging in a new level. However, Raoul Castro said to the world: “I have no human rights problem to change and will not be changing anything.” This is the real world
        stuff that we are faced with. Are we contributing finances and support to fund a Communist regime
        that will exploit our openness, or are we able to actually assist the dictatorship to change it’s ways?
        Only a leader who can bring tough love that will insist on changes will be a leadership for the free world and for a better future. Having lived in the former USSR and knowing those who live under communist dictatorship, they are not in denial or Pollyanna type fantasy to CONDONE that a dictator gets to keep people tormented, oppressed and enslaved. Those, like you, me and perhaps other Americans who did not yet live under these conditions, cannot listen to the testimonies of those who do so and then ignore them by speaking about how we should coddle and acquiesce to allow dictators to cause such human suffering. Are we really listening then with our hearts?

        1. Deborah Lander

          I hear you are upset over these abuses and understandably. Yet no one that I’ve ever met or any politician I’ve heard to date has condoned the behavior of a dictator/communist gov’t or these sick human rights violations. I don’t condone it. I think I take it for granted that I assume Colin is like myself and most I know, in that I just seem to know without a long discussion about it that the Castro regime is incredibly abusive and corrupt in their power. For me that goes without saying it is so crystal clear. So I’m sorry if this seemed glossed over or ignored by me, in the discussion about America’s violations. Is it possible though to see both countries as having major room for growth without having to declare today who is worse?…… Now how to deal with a dictator is a question for the ages. We have a history of assassinating them and we cut off oil to Japan when we disagreed with their war mongering ways, which they responded to with Pearl Harbor. And on and on it goes. I do believe in tough love at times and we’ve been doing that with Cuba for how many decades now? Refusing to work with them until there is change. That hasn’t worked as we hoped. Will opening a dialogue with a dictator change his ways? It’s not terribly likely. But I do wonder if there is some small opening here that a public discussion and willingness to engage with Cuba could create just enough room…new conversations, new energy and even small shifts in thinking. That’s how change occurs…we try something different, especially when there is a window of opportunity and this may be it. I empathize with your worries and fears and get that this is naive thinking to you. Personally I see this as an optimistic and well thought out strategy to create movement and change for all involved – especially the Cuban people. And as Colin pointed out there are opportunities for our own healing as a country.

  2. Joyce Miles

    Thank you Colin for this enlightening message we all in american should listen to and take to heart!

  3. Tom Stephens

    I see absolutely no reason to apologize or pay reparations to anyone for slavery that occurred before anyone currently alive was even born. Further, if you believe in reincarnation, it is even possible that people currently alive were in reverse roles in a prior life. I think slavery was indeed shameful, but has nothing to do with any of us today – and I will absolutely no apologize for being an older white male.

    1. MC

      The thing is that wealth, education and life lessons get passed on from generation to generation. This country enslaved black people for several generations, forcing them to work for no income, and no opportunity to save money or better their situation. Many were forced into illiteracy.

      Then, after the Civil War ended, the Klan and other racist groups arose to continue oppressing and punishing “uppity” black people who developed successful businesses, broke oppressive rules, or otherwise refused to stay “in their place.” Some historians believe that post – civil war racism may have even been more damaging than slavery itself. Black people were just starting to hope for a better future — only to see their dreams, in many cases, violently crushed.

      It seems likely that this history contributes to current racial disparities in wealth, income, and education. This history — along with more current racism — has also contributed to internalized racism. For some, it may have instilled a sense of hopelessness, a sense that there is no use trying to achieve mainstream success. And yes, I know that individual black Americans have succeeded in overcoming many of these obstacles. But it would be foolish to pretend the obstacles don’t exist.

      For me, as a white American, reparations has nothing to do with accepting blame or guilt. It’s simply acknowledging that American slavery may be over — but its legacy isn’t.

  4. Marshall

    Actually, that was a 57 year split (since 1959 when Fidel Castro came to power). Though official relations with the US was not cut off until the early 60’s I believe. Otherwise, I agree with your video!

Comments are closed.