Press reports indicate that President Barack Obama’s image now occupies a place of honor on the Havana street posters that was once afforded to Che Guevara. When Obama touches ground on Cuban soil on Sunday to usher in a new era of diplomatic relations with that unfortunate island’s totalitarian communist government he will no doubt be flattered by the comparison to such a mass murdering terrorist thug as Guevara, whose ruggedly handsome and martial image still adorns many a hipster’s t-shirt and countless college dormitory walls and is by now as iconic as that upturned chin of Obama’s in the equally kitschy “Hope and Change” poster, but such aging Cold Warriors as ourselves can only sigh at what’s become of our supposed victory.
The first presidential visit to Cuba since long before it became it a totalitarian communist state is being hailed in much of the press as a crowning achievement of Obama’s foreign policy, even as those same media are obliged to admit that the eastern European and Middle Eastern and South China Seas and hasn’t been so nearly have been ore significant setbacks, but our perspective yields a differing view. We were born the same year that Fidel Castro and Che Guevara and their fellow mass murdering thugs gained control of the country, and they’ve remained in the bad news long after such mass-murdering thugs as Yasser Arafat and the Ayatollah Khomeini and the apparatchiks of the Soviet Union and such exemplary leaders as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II faded away, and we’d held out faint hope that we’d outlast Cuban communism as well.
This hope now seems dashed, though, and we expect that for now it will be regarded as a crowning achievement of the current administration that he has supplanted the great Che Guevara on Havana’s street posters. We recall a recent conversation with a young fellow we rather like who thought that Obama’s Cuba policy regardless of whatever that country’s totalitarian government had done in the past was surely no big deal, and we noted that what Cuba had done in the past was steal billions of dollars of American investments in the country while murdering countless of democacry-and-freedom-loving dissidents to install a regime that invited nuclear weapons that brought the world to the brink of nuclear apocalypse and fomented disastrous revolution South America to Africa, and was appallingly anti-homosexual and racist and sexist to boot, and that it had done it all in our our very own lifetime, which doesn’t seem all that recent. Throw in the fact that our first girlfriend and one of our middle-aged crushes was with Cuban-Americans whose families who had escaped that hellish routine, and that one of them’s brother is also a good friend, and that two of our city’s best mayors have been Cuban-Americans and one of them was the father or our aforementioned first girlfriend, as well as all the hours we’ve spent grooving to Mongo Santamaria records, and that our choice for the next president is a Cuban-American, so we take our opposition to Cuba’s too-awful-to-deal-with government rather personally.
Obama’s line seems to be that American rapprochement with Cuba will surely insert its insidious capitalist influence and thus drag it ever closer to our more capitalist and gay-friendly standards, but we doubt he really believes in any of that. Our guess is that he admires its socialized welfare system and press restraints and ability to to send dissidents to the torture chambers, and hopes that his much admired rapprochement with the totalitarian government will nudge us ever closer to that model.
He’ll soon be gone, thanks to that presidential term limit that the Democrats insisted on during Eisenhower’s popular anti-communist administration, but the policy will likely linger. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton will be on board, and Republican front-runner and deal-making-businessman Donald Trump says he has no problem with the concept of dealing with the Cuban communists but promises a much better and really “yuge” deal, so the best case scenario is that scene from “Godfather Part Two” where they’re passing the gold-plated phone from Michael Corleone and Hyman Roth to set up casino with a well-endowed “superman” sex show. The insidious influences of capitalism might yet prevail, no matter the outcome of some Democrat-versus-Republican showdown, so at least we’ll hold onto that faint hope.
In the meantime those images of Obama’s upturned chin and Guevara’s scowling-yet-handsome visage are equally iconic, and we wish the best for the freedom-loving peoples of both the United States of America and Cuba.
— Bud Norman