Billy Fenton ~
One of my favorite sayings that was running consistently through my mind during today’s lecture was “history is written by the victors.” Camilo Garcia, a former diplomat for the Cuban government, gave us a lecture on US-Cuba relations today, focusing on the history of contemporary interactions between the two countries. Garcia said there are three important historical elements that need to be considered in order to understand things from a Cuban perspective: independence, democracy, and Cuban-Americans. When discussing history, he constantly referred to the US as an imperialist power, and to the Platt Amendment, which allowed US troops the right to intervene in Cuba, as well as have naval bases there.
Discussing the second point of democracy, Garcia was quick to tell a history which would make the current regime appear as if they were saviors of Cuba, talking about how the Cuban governments after the first Cuban president were all absolutely corrupt and connected to the Mafia, and asserting that Cuba was entirely dependent upon the US for exporting its sugar. Because his focus was on US-Cuban relations, he was able to ignore and not mention the fact that Cuba traded the US for the Soviet Union, and was completely dependent upon the Soviet Union after the US imposed its embargo. The history told was constantly biased in order to present the Cuban government in the most positive light, not even acknowledging mistakes.
When it came to the third topic, the subject of Cuban-Americans, he constantly implied that the Cuban-Americans in Miami were rich, spoiled individuals who left Cuba to save their own wealth and power, and argued that they were the reason relations with Cuba were difficult, accusing them of using political lobbies to sabotage relations with the US and of committing acts of terrorism within Cuba and against officials in the United States. He also discussed the embargo and his obvious hopes that it would be lifted eventually for both Cuba and the Untied States.
It was interesting to see history through the Cuban perspective, especially because we heard several presentations about this same historical period from the perspective of the US when we were in Miami.