A Cuban Wonderland
Watching the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Cuban and American Presidents first diplomatic meeting, receiving the traditional military entrance with a military band, I felt I was watching a scene out of “The Wizard of Oz”.
I was transported to a long time ago, when we Americans were in the late stages of the fifties and the Eisenhower Presidency.
Cuba and particularly Havana, was the destination of choice as a vacation spot unequaled all over the world. It was the showcase of the rich and famous, the best talent performed in the hotels and casinos. A visit to Cuba was a dream come true. Quiz shows featured four day seven and eight day trips all expenses paid as prizes and rewards.
During this same period, the business side of things, large companies not unlike today, used the Cuban population as a labor force and paid little to these so called peasants who couldn’t see a future and a decent life under those circumstance.
Many years of mounting reaction to the business climate and the large interests, with the added presence of Mafia type control of the gambling and entertainment brought onto this baseball loving people, a bunch of young athletes and intellects wanting to reclaim their island nation away from the powers that were in control.
It was the late fifties and on our news we heard of Fidel and a rebel insurgency creating a small army in the mountains to fight the regime of Batista the general that ran everything.
Americans had no way of knowing what was happening, but Fidel fighting injustice was compelling.
The day the revolution occurred we were still in the fifties and still had Eisenhower leading us.
The revolution succeeded. Those opposing the uprising left in droves, first a trickle then a tidal wave, until that was cut off.
Castro reached out to find support from America but that was not going to happen, and Castro reached out elsewhere. Russia was eager to fill the void. Dilemma for Eisenhower yet we were faced with our own election of president.
By the time Kennedy was inaugurated in 1961 Cuba had been reshaping everything to a State owned enterprise thoroughly perplexing the first few days of the Kennedy administration. Oh let’s not forget the gift of the Berlin Wall.
The Bay of Pigs invasion hatched under the previous presidency by some of the Military thinkers and Cuban the exiles who lost Cuba, pressed early on to have this invasion take place. The presidency was hardly launched when the Bay of Pigs failed.
It was as if Kennedy was set up by our own trusted military and strategic advisors, who Kennedy learned not to trust.
With President Obama’s visit to restore ties with the Cuban people, we are treated to a glimpse of what we left in ’58. Cuba hasn’t really changed very much.
Many Americans have been to Cuba throughout this isolation period. Charmed by the style of life, the simplicity, each came home unabsorbed by politics. Maybe this is one last opportunity to see life in a simpler form and how much a breath of fresh air that could be wafting from the Caribbean instead of the fomenting anger of yesteryear holding us prisoners of the last truly great Generals last parting remarks, “BEWARE OF THE MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!”.