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Unpolluted Caribbean Beach, similar to the endangered beached of Cuba. (Photo: Hugo Marin)

Why Cuba, and Why Now? One Missing Perspective on the Story

Hugo MarinJoyce Meghan

The so-called "thaw" between the United States and Cuba has been celebrated by many on the political Left and Right in the United States, while disdained by those on the far Right. What has been absent from the conversation has been the voice of the Pro-Global South and the Cuban people in Cuba. It is critical for Westerners involved in this debate to organize the information in a global and historical context that centers on the Cuban people and their interests.

The mid-far Left views the thaw as a path toward a positive relationship with Cuba and a means to close the Guantanamo Bay Prison. The bipartisan center views this as a path toward a diplomatic relationship with Cuba that would include vast capitalist opportunities for US corporations.

The far Right, led by Marco Rubio and John McCain are so threatened by Communism that they oppose the measure altogether as it threatens the corporations who fund both their campaigns and lifestyles.

The only Cuban voices represented are a largely conservative faction living primarily in Florida. The only Cuban newspaper accessible to those outside of Cuba, Periodico Granma, is owned by the State.

Our backgrounds and experiences have led us to conclude that there is a perspective on this conflict that is being grossly overlooked. Hugo was born and raised in Puerto Rico, an island very similar to Cuba with one major exception: Puerto Ricans are granted US citizenship because of their status as a US "possession." Joyce is a former US marine and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War who has worked in solidarity with communities impacted by US militarism, internationally.

The so-called “thaw” between the US and Cuba is a public relations disguise for a 3 or more part plan that includes:

  • Providing a new opportunity for the US corporations to make capitalist gains in Cuba.
  • Creating an opportunity for the US to continue a legacy of destabilizing Latin-American self-determination on a broad scale.
  • A method for maintaining control over the general region.

Like Puerto Rico, Cuba is visually vibrant. In contrast, it is still covered in beautiful, blue, untouched beaches, free of pollution because of the current lack of major ports in many areas. It is home to species that exist no where else in the world, and all of this would be threatened should there be a mass influx of US and Western commerce.

Many Latin American countries, including Cuba, have created successful alternative trade agreements amongst themselves. So far, few people have been discussing the risk the proposed changes could pose to Cuba’s relationship with these nations. Could it put Cuba at risk for regional isolation and subsequent dependency on the United States?

It is possible that the situation will never really get that far; the “thaw” has a glass ceiling. The demands from Raul Castro are high, based on the standards of the US. They include a complete end to the embargo with no strings attached, the closing of the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base that houses the controversial US military prison, and reparations for the people of Cuba who have suffered due to US-imposed sanctions.

These demands are not only reasonable but necessary. This conflict cannot be solved without accountability from the United States. Based on its track record, this is highly unlikely. Those in the United States who claim to support Cuba and the Global South should abandon the mainstream liberal stance that the “thaw” should go through as proposed.

Real justice and peace require an end to US intervention in the Global South, including an end to all sanctions. The Latin American economy must be dominated by leaders, economic systems and policies that come from within and promote self-determination; a staple of any true democracy. The result may not be flawless but it is more likely to work if it is created by the people that it represents.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Hugo Marin

Hugo Marin is a professional linguist, specializing in Latin-American Dialectology. They are a regular correspondent for La Jornada Latina in Pittsburgh and is a member of the local chapter of the National Boricua Human Rights Network. Hugo served in the US Military for 2 years but later worked for the liberation of Vieques and is part of Puerto Rico's Nationalist Party, which advocates for the Island's freedom and autonomy from the United States. @infinitelexico

*For information on why "they" is used as a singular pronoun, please see this resource.

Joyce Meghan

Joyce Meghan is a former US Marine and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Joyce served as IVAW's board chair and worked as the Director of Development on the national staff. Joyce holds a BA in Cultural Studies/Critical Theory from Chatham College for Women and believes in bell hooks' theory of organizing from margin to center. They currently support the Pittsburgh chapter of the National Boricua Human Rights Network. @joycemeghan

*For information on why "they" is used as a singular pronoun, please see this resource.

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