First step to peace or matter of politics?

It had been nearly 90 years since a U.S president had set foot on Cuban soil, but President Barack Obama made a historic visit on March 20, in anticipation of finally ending a Cold War-era estrangement between the U.S. and Cuba. 

Obama spoke in Cuba about his call for Congress to lift the Cuban embargo, prompting generous applause. 

As a result of his 35 minute oration in Havana, an urgent question arises: Will there now be normalcy in Cuba? The answer is a very unfortunate ‘no.’ 

Prior to the president’s very highly publicized arrival, in an attempt to flee the country, nine Cubans died, and 18 others were rescued after their boat capsized off the Florida coast. 

In February alone, 269 Cuban migrants attempted to reach U.S. shores, and about 2,420 have tried since last October, according to ABC News. 

Additionally, only a few hours before Obama’s arrival, a group of Cuban dissidents were peacefully protesting outside of Havana’s Santa Rita church. 

They were then violently dragged out to waiting buses, thrown to the curb and handcuffed while the crowd shouted “this is Fidel’s street!”

According to Amnesty International, political detentions in Cuba are at the highest level in several years and “Cuban rights activists are at increased risk of detention or harassment from the authorities.”

The reality of the harsh living conditions in Cuba is a subject that has been covered up by the media in an attempt to create a more romanticized view of the island. 

The truth is, people are being arrested, detained and stripped of civil rights, without uncensored Internet access. 

Decent food requires a visit to the black market for anyone who can scavenge the American dollars to afford it. 

Obama’s attempt to take “the first step to peace” in Cuba was a convincing spectacle, but it will do little to nothing to solve the real issue. 

Lifting the embargo is just the first of many steps needed in order to finally establish normalcy and freedom in Cuba. 

There is only one thing in the way of the possibility of — the Castro regime — and for the sake of the thousands of dissidents risking their lives for democracy and basic human rights, Obama needs to do more than sit down with Raul Castro and cheer on they Rays.


Samantha Nieto is a junior majoring in mass communications.