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Cuba After Castro, MINDSETTER™ Matt Fecteau

Monday, November 28, 2016


“A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past.” – Fidel Castro


Fidel Castro is finally dead. A dictator who oppressed millions of Cubans is gone. While remnants of the Castro government still remain in power, this is a rare, revolutionary moment of change for Cuba, and the United States should desperately embrace it.

Castro’s long tenure has a lot to do with the American sanctions. The sanctions essentially emboldened the regime. Subsequently, Castro was a looming, influential figure that outlasted and occasionally, outlived presidents. As dictator, Castro used the American sanctions as a scapegoat. No clean water? Sanctions. Pervasive poverty? Sanctions. Castro played both sides like a cheap fiddle, clinging to power in the process.

While sanctions can work, like those levied on Iran, sometimes sanctions fail miserably. There is no cookie-cutter approach to diplomacy or foreign policy. In the case of Cuba, the sanctions were a mistake. The United States is only a few miles from Cuba yet could not influence the Cuban government to overthrow its tyrant, or even change its ways.

With the death of this brutal man, there is a stronger possibility for closer relations with Cuba. In the United States, with the changing of each presidential administration, there is something called a ‘reset’ in foreign relations. That is the benefit of democracy, fresh blood, modern ideas, and more importantly, new relations with countries that were once competitors, or enemies.

Living under a dictator, the people are not afforded the luxury of a diplomatic reset. With the Castro regime in power, Cuba has been living in a state of paralysis for decades. The regime has maintained a hardliner, at times, aggressive policy towards the United States. Consequently, for the Cuban people, nothing has changed, especially relations with the United States.

There has been some progress. With the ascension of Fidel Castro’s brother, Raul, relations with the United States have improved, even agreeing to some democratic concessions. In turn, the Obama administration relaxed some of the restrictions on Cuba. While technically speaking, tourism is prohibited for American citizens under law. These were some positive, yet minute steps. Regardless, Fidel Castro overshadowed relations with the United States — some speculated Castro's acquiesced to better relations.

With the death of such an influential, yet terrible man, there is hope for an even brighter, more revolutionary future. The sanctions should be repealed. With the passing of Fidel Castro and regular increased interaction, American influence will transform the island of Cuba into an oasis of capitalism, and democracy. One day, the Castro regime may just be seen as simply a bitter footnote in far more celebrated Cuban future.

Viva la revolución! 


Matt Fecteau ([email protected]) of Pawtucket, Rhode Island was a Democratic candidate for office in 2014 and 2016. He is a former White House national security intern and Iraq war veteran.


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