Op-Ed

Glimmer of hope for Cuba’s future

A barber shaves a client at his privately licensed shop in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. The Cuban government will allow new restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts and transportation businesses by the end of the year 2018, reopening the most vibrant sectors of the private economy after freezing growth for more than a year. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)
A barber shaves a client at his privately licensed shop in Havana, Cuba, Tuesday, July 10, 2018. The Cuban government will allow new restaurants, bed-and-breakfasts and transportation businesses by the end of the year 2018, reopening the most vibrant sectors of the private economy after freezing growth for more than a year. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan) AP

A buried headline in a recent New York Times caught my attention: New Cuba Constitution, recognizing private property, approved by lawmakers.”

This headline in our “land of freedom” is unfathomable to many.

For me it means that my country of birth is at a crossroads: the possibility of change and hope for future generations of Cubans and the unlocking of their potential.

Cuba has been for almost 60 years under a communist dictatorship, its citizens living under a soviet-style constitution approved in the ’70s. From the Cold War up to our present-day government, Cuba has been a pawn, a player in our history’s fight against communism. Remember the Cuban missile crisis?

Tens of thousands of Cuban nationals have fled economic and political oppression, leaving their past and their beautiful island behind for a better future in this country. The powerful Cuban diaspora in Miami brought its culture to a city that was old and decaying, revitalizing Miami, making it a vibrant colorful city, and one of the world’s international business capitals.

Starting in 1961, Washington imposed an embargo in an effort to oust the Castro regime. Over decades it became clear to many that the embargo was an utter failure. But any proposal to end it angered the Cuban-American voters. This voting constituency has played a gigantic role in our national elections.

It has forced Washington into a hard line against Cuba, overlooking the generations born after the revolution who had nothing to do with empowering the Castro criminal regime. Their sin was to be born in the wrong place, at the wrong time, into a situation created by past mistakes, presently upheld by ghosts of Cuba’s past, justified feelings about homeland and loss.

President Barack Obama’s executive orders opened a door to hope — a door slammed shut by the Trump administration.

Now a door from within seems to be opening. The draft of this new constitution, however imperfect, could lead to economic, political and social changes. This is my hope for my island.

It is time to accept the words of Cuban poet Richard Blanco: Cuba is a real country with real people. Cuban people don’t exist to entertain our romantic notions of them, past, present or future.

Ninfa Floyd teaches at Bluegrass Community and Technical College.

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