Oh, for the remission of America’s sin

. . . It is not just a stand-off against a system of governance, nor is it just a stand-off against the surname Castro. It is a stand-off that affects every man, woman and child walking on the streets of Cuba; and therefore the stage had been reached where its rationale no longer existed; and it should be brought to an end.

–– Prime Minister Freundel Stuart addressing the strained relations between Cuba and the United States at the recently concluded Cuba/CARICOM Summit in Havana.

Some of his critics and detractors will surely have said they would rather have heard the Prime Minister on the state of affairs in Barbados and his vision and projections for this island of ours come January 2015, than any pontification on Cuba and its future diplomatic relations with President Barack Obama and the United States. We do not deny that any substantive say on our political and economic quagmire by Mr Stuart would be in order, but its absence does not invalidate our leader’s intent or contribution towards this historic occasion.

And it has been by no means little.

It was Freundel Stuart, who in a plenary session had brought to the attention of fellow CARICOM leaders that this half-century-old “protracted stand-off between the United States and Cuba had reached the stage where it had become sinful”.

History just might prove that it was to a great extent upon the urgings and invocation of Mr Stuart that President Obama was ultimately moved to put himself up for slaughter upon which his metaphorical blood might be shed for the remission of America’s great sin in the Caribbean.

However philosophical and esoteric we might be tempted to become, the blatant fact is though that an American president summed up the heart, dignity and penchant to rightness to toss vanity aside and take the step forward towards some harmony with Cuba, a request and a plea that have been forthcoming from Caribbean leaders since the 1970s. And Barack Obama will be most remembered and revered by nigh the rest of the world for this civilized, moral and commonsensical move.

And it is probably no accident or coincidence that Mr Obama’s leaf turning on behalf of the United States comes in the month of goodness, giving, love, peace and cheer. As St Vincent’s Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has declared, this is indeed “a day of great rejoicing” –– for us in the Caribbean, as it ought to be for the less bitter and reactionary in America. But we do not fool ourselves that the ultra-Conservatives will not put hurdles in the way of the new common sense approach to recognition of Cuba by the United States Congress and company. For, alas, the overturning of the economic blockade against the Castro island essentially rests with the United States House of Representatives.

Dare we expect that introspection, consideration for the views of other members of the civilized global community, and maturity will prevail?

None can be so blind as not to see that over all these decades both Cuba and the United States have lost in their fight, with the edge of any semblance of victory going to Cuba for the determined spirit of its people and their survivial yet against American might. And there is more to this new circumstance than handshakes of friendship between two long-standing foes. There is scope and hope for Cuban families divided –– if feelings of bitterness fomented over the past two or three generations of Cubans at home and abroad can be set aside, nullified even.

It is not to be forgotten that there are still Cubans who will not or cannot enter upon the soil of their birth. We imagine these corrections will come with a Cuba which the United States no longer wishes to destroy for no other recognizable reason than political dogma; and that over time there can be a melding of minds of the Havana Cuban and the Miami one.

But of necessity it must start with the political rulers, and we daresay Mr Obama and Senor Raúl Castro are on the right track with their vision, dialogue, compromise and agreement. Politics has presented this rift all this time; it is appropriate that politics set the example in the mending of ways and healing of hearts, the latter of which will be cemented by ordinary Cuban and American people.

We may look in anticipation therefore to the opening of embassies across countries; the removal of Cuba from the terrorists list; accommodation of visits and trips; and with the removal of that trade embargo, exchange of and access to medical and technological opportunities.

For the United States to continue doing otherwise would be to stay stuck in sin against our Caribbean ally Cuba, a situation ably and clearly identified by Prime Minister Stuart –– and with which we can hardly disagree!

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