Obama’s policy shift the right thing to do


Someone, long ago, said that politics is the art of the possible.

When it comes to this country’s relationship with Cuba, our absurd decision, also from very long ago, to allow Cuba policy to be run parochially from a small ethnic enclave in South Florida had turned politics into the art of the impossible, as far as our Cuba policy was concerned.

Exhibit One for this act of political alchemy may well be Jeb Bush’s recent speech at a luncheon in Miami, hosted by a Cuban PAC that yearly spends loads of money on keeping the United States’ stale and arrogantly defended policy to isolate and strangle Cuban society.

Bush, whom I consider a sensible and sensitive politician capable of saying what he thinks and not just what his audience wants to hear, was clear about how our foreign policy should be conducted: free from the constraints of domestic political concerns. And then — shazam! —he turned the task of dislodging our foreign policy from the clutch of lobbyists who specialize in holding common sense hostage, into the impossible by kowtowing to those who bought him lunch, vouching for the continuity of Cuba policy and its hardening even.

And then, on Dec. 17, President Obama performed his own act of political alchemy, resetting Cuba policy back in the realm of the possible.

If we truly understand what democracy is all about, we must recognize that all Americans should be allowed to weigh in on the Cuba policy and other matters involving foreign policy. I have a hunch that if that national discussion ever takes place — not easy, since most Americans couldn’t care less about Cuba — the vast majority of our fellow Americans will agree with the president’s decision and endorse this new path.

And they will do so not just because it is economically expedient; they will support it because it is the right thing to do. Because the embargo and its impact on Cuban society as a whole is unjust, and keeping it in place is an affront to the dignity of both sovereign nations, Cuba and also — and foremost — to the dignity of the United States and what it stands for. That is the message the U.N. General Assembly, all the governments in our hemisphere, popes and even our closest allies have been sending us for many years.

Of course, many of those in Bush’s lunch audience still believe the world at large is wrong, and they, and they alone, are right. That everybody else has a faulty “communist detection” device; that they have all sold out to the Castro Brothers’ gold or are terrified that two octogenarians in a Caribbean island could reach out with their hairy hands and destabilize their countries. There is even a manual out there explaining how everyone who does not see the world as these folks do are little more than idiots. But hey, this is Miami and we do things differently here.

We need to free Cuba from American politics, and this is a task for all Cubans to undertake, even those who answer with Pavlovian applause whenever an American politician hollers a Viva Cuba Libre! somewhere in Miami.

José Manuel Pallí is president of Miami-based World Wide Title.