The United States has been remarkably close to communism. Only 169 km separates Havana from Key West, and it is only 85 km across the Bering Strait separating Alaska from Russia.
Yet the US policy to Cuba has been bizarre; if anything, helping its communist opponents. The embargo signed by Kennedy on 7 February 1962 remains in place (despite minor weakening) – the most enduring trade embargo in the modern world. Incidentally, Kennedy had his press secretary, Pierre Salinger, buy dozens of boxes of Cuban cigars just before he signed the embargo into law.
The US policy on Cuba has, unfortunately, been driven by the Cuban exiles in Florida. I once met a young lady who moved to Miami at age 3 who could barely speak a word on English, despite having lived in the US for more than 20 years. Yet her hatred for Castro was so profound, that she considered him a worse monster than Hitler, Stalin, Mao or Pol Pot.
Yet the US policy has also helped make the likes of Castro and, especially, Che Guevara, as revolutionary heroes who have fought against the evil imperialist capitalist regime of the US.
How it could have been so different. If the United States had lifted the embargo in the 1960s (after the missiles were pulled out of Cuba), the life of the average Cuban would have been so much better, and Castro’s regime would probably have died long ago. The US policy on Cuba not only ensured the longevity of the Castro regime, but has added to the impoverishment of the Cuban people already suffering under communism.
Under that alternative policy, the evils of communism would be readily apparent – the low standard of living of the Cuban people could not be blamed on the United States. The US would then be the benefactor, not the oppressor. Instead, US policy has allowed Castro to blame the US for the plight of the Cuban people.
Castro will soon die; perhaps his regime and legacy will also soon die. But the lives of the many poor Cubans have not been helped by the US policy and their supposed kin living in Miami.