When I first went to Cuba in 1975 and met with Fidel Castro, our city of Madison delegation argued well into the night with our hosts. Our central point was that Cuba should have a free press and free elections. They responded that that was not the way of Communism and that we had no right to inflict our form of government on another nation.
Invariably the discussion would get around to the United States embargo of Cuba and the impact on the island nation. The Cuban argument, with which we concurred, focused on the rationale of our foreign policy. The justification of the embargo was:
Cuba did not have free and open elections. Well neither did most of the Middle East, Africa, and the other Communist nations we recognized.
Cuba did not tolerate free speech. Ditto as to the elections.
The Fidelistas had expropriated millions of dollars of private property. The Castro government took control of the assets of US companies without compensation. Funny thing, is that all of the right wing political moralists forget that the United States government perfected the art of confiscation when the assets of the Neisei were seized in 1942.
Which then raises the question, what was it that made Cuba stand apart? We know the harangue that starts with national security ,and the fact that the island is less than one hundred miles from our shores.
Cuba has not been even a remote threat to the U.S. since the mid 1970's when we negotiated the anti-hijacking treaties and the Soviet military presence all but vanished. Since the Berlin War came down, the Republican Party, with its designer wars, poses greater threats to national security than the ice cream parlors in Havana.
What makes Cuba stand apart is gambling, the Mob and crime. Not only did Castro nationalize Cuban industry, but he threw out the gangsters and the gambling outfits. After all, it was the Mob that arranged for the Bay of Pigs invasion, spied where the CIA could not go, and led the attack. It is the Mob that keeps up the ferment in Miami. And it will be the Mob on the first boat back to Havana when we resume trade with Cuba.