The speech never given, the op-ed never published

I offered the essay below to The Washington Post and The New York Times.

The Post was decent enough to tell me very quickly — at least — that they had already published “too many” op-ed pieces on Cuba for the week and couldn’t publish any more.

The NYT — predictably — didn’t even reply.  Three days later, this insignificant uppity little spic is still waiting for a reply.

It’s written for non-Cubans.  We Cubans know all this stuff all too well.

But here it is.  Maybe it will get passed around beyond the confines of South Florida and other places of exile around the globe.

Que comemierda este negrito. ! I didn’t even greet him at the airport!

The speech Obama should deliver in Havana, but never will

President Obama will have a unique opportunity next week.

No, it’s not his trip to Cuba itself that is so unique; after all, Calvin Coolidge visited the island when Fidel Castro was a little boy. His golden opportunity is the chance he will have to deliver a memorable speech to the Cuban people in the presence of Raul Castro and the military junta that has ruled Cuba for fifty-seven years.

President Obama could deliver an iconic speech that would forever enshrine his legacy in the annals of American presidential history, placing him in the same league with Lincoln at Gettysburg, Roosevelt at his first inauguration, or Kennedy and Reagan at the Berlin Wall.

It’s an opportunity he will squander, however. No doubt about it.

Instead of telling Raul Castro what he needs to hear, or exposing the dictator’s human rights abuses to the world, President Obama will probably focus on his own legacy and dwell on platitudes carefully crafted to placate his host and irritate his critics.

Nonetheless, in the highly unlikely chance that he might want to take a stab at genuine statesmanship, here is a speech he could deliver in Havana , sufficiently laced with the president’s usual references to himself and his own place in history.

Obama’s Havana Address

President Raul Castro, I am proud to come to this city as your guest, and grateful for the chance to address you, your Council of Ministers, your Council of State, and the Cuban people..

I have not come here to praise you, however. Sometimes, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for guests to speak frankly and lay aside the gilded norms of diplomatic etiquette.

Seven years and half a century ago, you and your brother stole this country from the Cuban people and established yourselves as absolute monarchs.

Your brother Fidel sat on the throne first, ruthlessly crushing all opponents for forty-seven long years, and then, when he became too feeble to rule, you assumed his blood-soaked mantle.

Your shameful record of human rights abuses speaks for itself.

You have executed and disappeared so many thousands of Cubans that a precise number of victims cannot be reckoned.

You have crushed dissent and imprisoned a higher percentage of your own people than most other modern dictators, including Stalin. You have condoned and encouraged torture and extrajudicial killings, and continue to do so, flagrantly.

You have censored and continue to censor all means of expression and communication.

You have driven nearly twenty percent of your people into exile, and prompted thousands to meet their deaths at sea, unseen and uncounted.

Enslaving your own people is not your only crime against humanity, however.

Shortly after I was born, you and your brother aimed nuclear warheads at my country and brought the entire world to the brink of annihilation. Ever since, you have allied yourself with my country’s deadliest enemies, fomented violence overseas, and striven to turn other nations against us.

Now, fifteen months after I extended a hand of friendship to you, I have come here to remind you of the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. : “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Now, here in Havana, I urge you to free your own people, the Cuban people. Let your fellow Cubans breathe free, let them join the rest of the civilized world.

Tear down your repressive machinery, Raul. Step down from your throne and call for free and fair elections, and freedom of expression and assembly. Free your political prisoners. Allow Cubans to travel freely. Open up the internet in Cuba, open up a free market economy, tear down all your state-owned and state-run monopolies.

Do the right thing, Raul, drop dead or go away, and take your brother and your military junta with you.

17 thoughts on “The speech never given, the op-ed never published”

  1. Any elections should also include all exiles and their descendants … or else the public might be brainwashed enough at this point to elect Raul or one of his cronies in the same way the GOP is now fooled to choose Trump.

  2. I do not believe this would happen, Mr. Mojito.
    But then, we will never get to know, will we?

    Professor – magnifique.

  3. But of course WaPo was “full” and the NYT couldn’t even be bothered to reply. I mean, what are you, Colombian? Honduran, perhaps? Wait, you’re not even Cubanoid? You’ve got some nerve, bub. Talk about a delusional little Chihuahua. Haven’t you learned anything from Obama’s Inaugural Poet, or at least Emilio Estefan, who’s actually taken up being Mexican? No wonder proper Latinos can’t stand you people, and even the pope pretty much openly mocks you. But hey, maybe the Miami Herald will print your hysterical rant, suitably abridged, though even the Herald must be sick of running such overwrought Cuban exile melodrama. Just to clue you in, only approved minorities get to play the victim card, and yours ain’t one of them, OK? Like, wake up and smell the coffee sometime. Sheesh.

  4. Today’s Miami Herald front page headline reads “Cold War to Warm Welcome.” The “welcome” at the airport couldn’t have been any more tepid and low-key, which was obviously deliberate. It might as well have been a routine visit from the president of Guatemala. The most they sent to kick off this HISTORIC visit was Bruno Rodríguez, Cuba’s answer to John Kerry, not even the putative No. 2 and supposed heir, Díaz Canel. Bruno, by the way, wore brown shoes with a dark navy suit, which looked so gauche one can’t help suspect it might have been a deliberate insult. Apparently, the idea is to wait and see how well Obama “behaves,” and then maybe, when he leaves Cuba on Tuesday, the dictator will deign to treat him like he did the pope. What a disgrace (and I’m not talking about the Castro side).

  5. The glaring contrast between the receptions given to the pope and to Obama is both highly significant and extremely telling. Raul Castro met the pope at the airport because he regards Don Francisco as 1) a genuinely congenial and sympathetic supporter/ally, 2) a great PR opportunity, and 3) absolutely no threat. He certainly doesn’t see Obama as a threat, either, but he can’t resist insulting the US and looking like a badass to his little friends in “Latin” America and elsewhere, not to mention his own subjects. He also knows Obama is in the bag no matter what, and he figures there’s absolutely no need to trouble himself over “un negrito equivocado pero muy manipulable.” Obama, despite his absurdly large ego, doesn’t mind because he MEANS to humiliate the US and, in effect, pay reparations to Cuba, and this is just one small installment. But just wait for his speech tomorrow, and try to take it on an empty stomach.

  6. But really, maybe we should all STFU and let Obama do his thing. After all, there is absolutely no question that Nelson Mandela would approve, and then some, so who are we to object? It’s bad enough criticizing Obama, but disagreeing with Saint Nelson is just, well, RACIST. Ask Charlize Theron.

    • ^ “The life of Che is an inspiration to all human beings who cherish freedom.
      We will always honour his memory.”
      — Nelson Mandela, while visiting Cuba in 1991

      So Obama is in ‘good’ company I guess. (pukes)

  7. The mistake we are making is assuming anyone cares about Cubans, when it is obvious for 50+ years that they don’t. Cubans to the world are worthless, less important than dolphins.

  8. So how much do you want to bet that, if the Grand Dukes of Luxembourg (which is roughly the size of a postage stamp) paid Cuba an official state visit, with the known intent of furthering “normalization” and opposing the embargo, they’d get a better reception than Obama? They certainly wouldn’t get a worse one.

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