In a letter to the Boston Globe, reader Stephen Berniche insists the time has come to bury the old grudges the U.S. has against the Castro dictatorship in Cuba. Berniche came to this realization a while back as he leisurely sat in Havana at the “El Floridita bar, smoking one of their finest cigars and sipping a Mojito,” wondering if Americans and Cubans are really all that different.
Apparently, the irony of him siting in a tourist-only bar in Cuba incurring a bar bill three times the monthly salary of a typical Cuban and enjoying a cigar the majority of Cubans cannot afford was completely lost on him.
Time to bury old grudges over Cuba
Regarding your Feb. 9 editorial US-Cuba relations, “Cuba’s reforms pave way for new US policy, too”: As a former Coast Guard aviator, my only Cuban experience was flying missions in and out of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Then, 14 years ago, as a corporate pilot, I was fortunate to fly senior members of the Catholic Church into Havana. They were attempting to continue the work started by the visit of Pope John Paul II, who had met recently with Fidel Castro. The people and culture made an indelible impression, with their music, optimism, and not-so-secret hope that someday relations with the United States could be different.
Yes, the residual failures of communism were evident, the newest American cars I saw were ’59 Chevys, doctors were working driving cabs, and people were generally lacking the comforts that we enjoy. But everyone has health care. Literacy is at about 98 percent. One feels extremely safe on the streets.
As I sat in an old hangout of Castro and Hemingway, the El Floridita bar, smoking one of their finest cigars and sipping a Mojito, I had to wonder: How different are we all really? And why can’t we get beyond our 1950s mentality toward a former enemy and start to do what is right to make positive changes for Cuba and America?
Only time will tell if we, as a nation, can rise above old grudges.
Stephen M. Berniche
While we are “burying old grudges,” perhaps there are a few more things we can bury:
Let’s bury the memory of the thousands of innocent Cubans executed by the Castro dictatorship.
Let’s bury the memory of the thousands of Cubans interred in UMAP forced labor camps.
Let’s bury the memory of the hundreds of thousands of Cubans over the past five decades and those who today continue to be imprisoned and tortured in Castro gulags for their political and religious beliefs.
Let’s bury the memory of the countless and unimaginable number of Cubans who have drowned in the Florida Straits trying to escape the tyranny and brutality of the Castro dictatorship.
Let’s bury the memory of the four innocent Brothers to the Rescue pilots who were murdered when their planes were shot down by Cuban MiGs in international waters under direct orders of dictator Raul Castro.
Let’s also bury the memory of Cuba’s martyrs like Pedro Luis Boitel, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Juan Wilfredo Soto, Wilmar Villar Mendoza, Laura Pollan, Harold Cepero, and Oswaldo Payá, who along with hundreds of other courageous Cubans like them over the past five decades, paid the ultimate price in their struggle for liberty and justice.
In other words, let’s just bury the whole unseemly reality and the disturbing history of Cuba under the vicious and bloody rule of the Castro dictatorship. I am sure that the Cubans whose lives were lost, whose blood was shed, and the millions whose lives have been destroyed would understand that the time has come to bury old grudges.