Posted on

We have all probably heard the news about the Trump Administration’s restricting relations with Cuba once again. I read the other day and heard President Trump say, that one reason the Administration and Republicans in Congress want to roll back Obama’s Cuba-US reforms is due to the “human rights violations” against the Cuban people by their government and military. This news immediately brought back memories from a Taxi conversation I had on my third night in Havana with a couple of friends, en route to Casa Dela Musica, to dance salsa. It was a pretty interesting conversation.

Famous in Cuba for salsa music

One of my friends spoke fluent Spanish and was able to translate the comments from the driver. “Why are black people being mistreated and killed in the US,” he asked. 

We were all dumbfounded because we knew that our nation purports the fact that we are the “land of the free,” and freedom is essentially our mantra. However, the image that the world see is of intolerance against minorities such as blacks. Also, the fact that this question was coming from a Cuban was even more shocking. It shocked us because to Americans they are oppressed, since their system of government is communism. A deviant system compared to our norms of democracy. So it was interesting that they were seeing these injustices on TV and were appalled by them. Because they were appalled, one can assume that these occurrences was not the norm there. Yet, our government, which is supposed to be more progressive does nothing but sympathize when the media blows up an unfortunate event. So how dare they say that they want to see Cuba stop its injustices against their own people, hmmm… 

My friends and I had to come up with an answer on the spot. It caused us to think thoroughly about the root of America’s problems with the black community. One of us suggested that it traced back to slavery and the profit system that surrounded it, which then resulted in slave owners denying that black people were equal humans. That question caused us to really pause and reflect on why blacks are brutalized and marginalized in the US. Being posed with this question, from a Cuban, made me, particularly then, accept the fact that we don’t have it all together.

Nonetheless, it is interesting that the GOP-led Congress and President Trump are once again restricting relations with Cuba because of the reason aforementioned. After all, the US has its own systematic human rights violations towards the Black community, especially in light of the recent police shootings, where many of the officers were not charged. There’s a blatant hypocrisy with their logic. The world sees what the US is doing wrong and they, too, have questions and concerns. As a nation with flaws, we can no longer expect other nations to be perfect when we also have a boulder in our eye. As Young Black Travelers, exchanges such as this help us to become better humans and global citizens. They show us where we need to improve and where we have an edge.

So Congress should maintain an open and constructive relationship with Cuba, and lead on human rights reforms. Severing ties will not help, we need to lead by example and promote productive exchanges with people like the Cubans, which the people-to-people category facilitated. We need to stop being a hypocritical nation. With open relations, they will better understand us, and in the end, it will bode positively for both Cubans and Americans. 

Our taxi driver dropped us off and we had an amazing time dancing Salsa. Iris, who was on the plane to Cuba and is a dancer, happened to be there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *