Re: Cuba

Ryan Stanley (rstanley@HUSC.HARVARD.EDU)
Thu, 6 Feb 1997 09:54:09 -0500

This discussion of U.S.-Cuba relations is fascinating. During the '60s, was
there any sort of public movement in the U.S. to protest Washington's Cuba
policy? Other than the exile lobby's demands to oust Castro directly, I
mean. I can't seem to recall ever having read about such a movement. No
doubt for those interested in foreign affairs, there were much bigger
battles to fight.

In Canada even today there's a small but dedicated network of 'pro-Cuba'
groups, mostly based on university campuses, which send to Cuba everything
from tractors to soap, and speak out against U.S. policy as it affects both
Cuba and Canada-Cuba relations. Nobody pays much attention and, in my
experience, these groups' activities are often hampered by the involvement
of would-be Marxist revolutionary clubs which don't get much widespread
respect. Still, the network is strong in its small way. And while there are
plenty of tories who back the U.S. line, it's an article of some pride
among many Canadians at the middle of the political spectrum that Ottawa
defies Washington on this. Being publicly blasted by Jesse Helms provokes
amusement in mainstream editorial columns. Among those who take Caribbean
holidays, Cuba is a popular destination for its relative cheapness and the
absence of Americans. I know of many middle-class professionals and
retirees who, years after a Cuba resort vacation, continue to send 'care
packages' to families they met there. Even our former 'first lady',
Margaret Trudeau (admittedly a bit of a live wire), once called Castro 'the
sexiest man I've ever met.'

How much difference all this makes is doubtful, but it offers some
indication of how silly Washington looks from the perspective of even its
closest allies. I heartily agree that it would take a Nixon to drag
U.S.-Cuba relations out of the '60s. Unfortunately I don't see any
candidates out there.

Ryan Stanley <>
Department of History
Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts
02138 U.S.A.