It’s Sunday evening, and it is sinking in that this is our last night in the “Evil Empire of the Caribbean.” We generally agreed that it is both humorous and pathetic that most Americans know so little about Cuba, and most of what they think they know is incomplete or incorrect. Unlike so much of the third world, Cubans don’t want or expect handouts and welfare from the U.S. They just want Americans to visit, spend money, and have fun in a safe environment. They are generally smart enough to realize the real reasons for the embargo. Some of the more sophisticated Cubans have figured out the core concept that the embargo has actually helped Fidel Castro stay in power, partly because he had a clear “enemy” to blame his country’s economic problems on. (When I first heard this belief, I thought it was another one of those crazy conspiracy theories. But after many trips to Cuba, and after reading the opinions of hundreds of experts on the subject, I believe this is exactly the case. It is also the consensus of former American diplomats, former & current military leaders most knowledgeable about the Caribbean, and the diplomatic corps of 99% of all other nations on earth. (Only Israel consistently votes in the U.N. in favor of the embargo. It does so because it eliminates competition from American businessmen. Individual Israelis have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Cuban real estate. This is an ongoing international joke that the rest of the world “gets,” but not most Americans. It is indeed humorous, and unbelievably pathetic. This is also true of the decreasing numbers of extremist Cuban-Americans in South Florida who sincerely believe they will return to Cuba someday and claim the mansions and beaches their parents and grandparents left behind over half a century ago.
Okay—okay. Pardon my diversion. It’s just that I get really angry when I think about what has happened to individual Cubans (but not to government officials). This has been done in our name and with our taxpayer dollars. Remember, most Cubans really like the American people. It’s just our government they don’t like. Well, neither do most of us, so we have yet one more thing in common!
It’s been fun here at Varadro. We were able to view Al Capone’s beach side home and have lunch at the Du Pont Mansion. Just like in Havana, there were lots of different musical groups to listen to. Today we donated the rest of our medical supplies to the Polyclinic, which happens to be located right on the beach just off 28th St. Some of the staff remembered me from the March trip, so we were made to feel especially welcome. This evening we briefly met on the beach in front of our hotel for our wrap-up discussion. The RN’s in our group received their continuing education certificates. This has really been an honor for me to facilitate this expedition. Our members are especially intelligent, well-educated, and curious. I really appreciate their open-mindedness and willingness to learn about such warm, friendly people, who remain trapped in political, economic, and bureaucratic warfare between two unyielding governments.
All that’s left now is to get a good night’s sleep, and be ready to get picked up in the morning for our bus ride back to Havana’s International Airport. Good-night.