This week we witnessed a world coming together and a world falling apart, a world between engagement and terror. For the first time in nearly 90 years, an American president visited Cuba, turning upside down the anti-Yanqui narrative that has been the raison d'être of one of the Western Hemisphere's most longest-lasting dictatorships. In Brussels, it appears that some children of Muslim immigrants expressed their explosive alienation in terror attacks in the very city many of them grew up, which also happens to be the capital of Europe. (continued)
The Republican presidential nomination race has previously devolved to the level of an elementary school playground (penis-measuring in a national debate), and has now risen to at least high school (if not a college frat house) with the vicious battle going on between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz over who can insult each other's wives the most.
While the right continues to believe that isolation will force out the Castros, the left is worried that capitalism will transform the system by other means. Cuba is like a vast undervalued neighborhood outside of Miami that's ripe for gentrification, and capitalism abhors such a vacuum. Some in the Cuban government fear that the proffered carrot has been poisoned; others are hoping to get a nibble for themselves. Cuba stands at a historic crossroads. Down one path lies strict adherence to the revolutionary legacy of the Castros. Down another path lies a revival of Cuba as a playground of rich moguls and shadowy criminal types, as it was just before the revolution. Are there any other paths that Cuba can take?
I was among those invited by the White House to be part of President Obama's historic visit to Havana over the past couple of days. While the President's entourage was largely a congressional delegation, representatives of various business concerns, and Cuban-Americans who have lived the pain of separation from their families all these long six decades, it was my honor to be recognized as a non-Cuban who cares deeply that the hope to reunite our two peoples is on the near horizon.
Just as the U.S. must recognize and respect Cuba's national sovereignty in order to achieve a "normalization" between nations, for its part the Cuban government must recognize that its national sovereignty -- like that of any nation -- is based on the popular sovereignty of each and every one of its citizens whom it has preferred to treat as subjects for decades.