Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, Jaimanitas Border Patrol Prison Unit, Havana, December, 2014 — Lacking access as I do to the predictions of political scientists (which perhaps is to my advantage so that I may be forgiven), I infer from President Obama’s latest measures that he now has nothing to lose. Therefore, any action he takes can only be a plus, or at least help him to maintain his social status.
The President is in his second term. He has been besieged from the start of his presidency by the Republican Party. Therefore, besides affording him a means of revenge, the process he has set in motion will at least provide him with personal satisfaction. Barack Obama has left his campaign promises for the end. With little more than one year left before he departs from the White House, he has decided to make good on his words.
He has begun dismantling the Guantánamo Naval Base prison, preparing the checkmate for when the North American electorate’s dissatisfaction is manifested (and the reason the Democrats lost the majority in the Senate and both Houses of Congress), for his immigration reform. Add to that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), which the Republicans hope to repeal. And now there is the prisoner exchange with Cuba and the announcement of diplomatic relations being resumed.
All of this reminds me of the popular saying about how “the river whose waters are rough rewards the fisherman with a better catch.” Obama is the only one who can gain something from this turmoil since the possibility of Republicans revoking immigration reform would leave them in a precarious situation with the Latino community, and the 11 million immigrants in general. This would cost them votes before the presidential election by forcing them to play a negative role.
Regarding the Cuban question, Obama has changed for generations to come that anti-Communist thinking which the first wave of exiles brought in the ’60s, and then later in the ’70s, and even during the Mariel Boatlift; generations who in large part emigrated in search of the American Dream and therefore their motivation was largely economic.
Those who arrived later, indeed were genuinely fleeing the precariousness of the socialist system, but they said that if it were not so, they would not have left. In short, the majority of Cubans who are in the United States are concerned only with their economic progress, the subject of Cuba is foreign to them, they are only interested in working, earning, living as well as possible, helping their relatives on the Island and, at least once a year, going back to show off their material wellbeing, and to be received like the “prodigal son.” For them, the embargo is an impediment to realizing their dreams. For some, the Castros are good, and if there is poverty in Cuba, it is the fault of the United States.
I reiterate that Obama now has nothing to lose personally. If he has anything to gain, it will be for his party and its presidential nominee. Nothing more than this: Life will surprise us with the catch from the turbulent river.
Translated by Alicia Barraqué Ellison