Cuban affairs drew many headlines in 1994. Spring marked the beginning of a headlong cascade of events: a bungled attempt by the Havana regime to stage a dialogue with moderate exiles in April, a mass exodus of
Cuban balseros (rafters) to U.S. shores in July and August, subsequent bilateral meetings with the United States throughout early fall, a
November solidarity gathering in Cuba with what remains of the Latin American left, a non-invitation to Miami’s Summit of the
Americas in early December, the Vatican’s appointment of a new Cuban cardinal in mid-December, an ongoing debate over the encampment of nearly thirty thousand Cubans in Guantanamo, rioting by Cubans in Panama, more bilateral meetings to discuss immigration and perhaps the economic blockade scheduled for early 1995, and so forth.
The list goes on, but the impasse remains. Still no opening in sight for bridging the thirty-six-year-old rift between Cuba and Washington. Or is it between Cuba and Miami? Cuba remains trapped in a series of historical binds: the lingering cult of a revolutionary leader turned omnipotent dictator, a controlled economy suddenly submitted to the law of neoliberal markets, the remnants of a cold war with the United States, and most important, a long-distance civil war with a transplanted ruling class in Miami still thirsting for revenge. Castro and Mas Canosa (head of the Cuban- American Foundation) are both opposed to constructive negotiations among Cubans. One is now aiming to extract yet more sacrifices from three generations of self-denying revolutionaries facing economic collapse. The other seeks to fuel the pretense that there was no need for a revolution in the first place.
Meanwhile, Cuba has become the only country left in the Western hemisphere whose families are kept apart for strictly political reasons.
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