Letter From The Editor: thoughts on a Cuban Summertime

In this week's issue we take you into one of the most fascinating and historically key territories of our hemisphere. For more than half a century Cuba has been part of the American consciousness for mostly political reasons. Since the 1959 Revolution which brought Fidel Castro to power, Cuba has been a source of debate, admiration and animosity. For many Americans the simple name of the country evokes the bearded image of Che Guevara, fevered revolutionary leaders exporting revolution into the Americas, the red specter of Communism and newsreel footage of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, which was the only time the world truly did come close to nuclear war. As the son of a mother who survived the civil war in El Salvador and a father from restless Colombia, the Cuban Revolution would find its way into dinner table conversation. It was the key political event of my parents' generation, its impact on Latin America was akin to that of the French Revolution on 18th century Europe. Now our Multimedia Editor, Ronja Jansz, shares her observations in this issue as a traveler through post-Cold War Cuba where the economy is slowly beginning to open up to the capitalist world and yet the population remains one steeped in a spirit of perseverance. It is a nation where an entrenched political system operates hand in hand with a society which is not wealthy, but in comparison to much of Latin America if not the Third World in general, has much to be proud of in terms of health standards, employment rates and education figures.

Unlike the tragic scenes associated with Haiti, Cuba is a nation which has achieved a unique status in terms of social development, now it only awaits an economic transformation. And yet, how beneficial would it be for Cuba to fall into the hands of corporate consumerism and rampant commercialism? In the photos Ronja shot throughout the island, we never see billboard advertisements or corporate slogans, only the revolutionary proclamations and signs of the socialist state. It is almost warming to see a country devoid of the crass commercialism that has so marked our own culture.

While Ronja travelled to Cuba as a visitor seeking to know a culture and its people, readers should ponder what the reasoning could be for the United States to maintain its embargo on the island. It can be said that one of the great failures of President Obama's foreign policy, and of every president before him and most likely after, thus far has been the lack of will to finally reopen relations with Cuba. The embargo is a relic of the Cold War, it is as useless today as it was in the 1960s. Consider that most of Latin America is now governed by leftist or center-left governments, Venezuela being prominent among them. It seems puzzling that our entire hemisphere, including Canada, has full ties with Cuba while the United States remains stubborn in its ideological, imperial isolation. Ronja could travel to Cuba because she is a European citizen, but an American citizen such as myself cannot travel there freely. Only Cubans residing within the United States with relatives on the island can make the trip, and even then with certain limitations.

As the Obama White House plans to wage war in the Middle East, this time against the militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, our continued denial of our Caribbean neighbor makes absolutely no sense at all. As we transfer our fears and military might towards new adversaries, with Cuba we cannot stay locked in the past.

In the rest of this issue we also feature pieces on our new Associated Students board finally passing a budget, an opinion piece pondering the growing militarization of our police forces and in the Arts & Entertainment section we look at the crude boldness of the new German film "Wetlands." The new horror mazes at Universal Studios are also reviewed with input by its designer. We invite readers to send us their comments and observations. As we explore lands beyond our borders, we want to hear the chatter happening beyond our Newsroom.