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Saturday, February 9, 2013

United States Cuba Relations: Curtain of Water - Review

I had the opportunity to view this excellent documentary at Sussex Community College in Newton, New Jersey.  Drawn to this by its succinct promotional flyer, "In Curtain of Water, photographer Joe Guerriero sets out to make sense of the U.S. trade embargo of Cuba.  Through conversations with people from all walks of life, in and outside of Cuba, he tries to shed light on the political and human sides of this conflict," you get to see a very personal side of the embargo.  But how does one make sense of an insane policy, driven by an agenda to humiliate and through its violence promote democracy?

We see how the embargo makes certain Cuban American exiles proud that their brethren suffer on the island or that by somehow rubbing it in the face of the Cuban government of the obvious failures of the economic system in Cuba -- that is going to force a change.  Why must the U.S. taxpayer and U.S. foreign policy serve a hypocritical and self centered interest?   Others on both sides complain how the embargo serves very narrow economic and political interests in both countries, and that is a fact.  A bizarre world of crazy prices and costs have enriched a handful.  When you hear the voices of ordinary Cubans simply ask "why me", "what did I do to deserve this" or respond through their words and actions, "[the embargo] will never break me -- we will survive", the very essence of the insanity of this policy is made all the more human and relevant.  Even Producer/Director Guerriero himself was affected multiple times by the embargo!

As Americans, we have to ask ourselves what have we actually achieved other than mutually assuring the social and economical flagellation of our own country and our neighbor at the expense of what exactly?  The most brilliant lines of the documentary come from the Cuban who is asked what does he think of the American people?  He responds, "the American people are the best people in the world and among the most generous of nations..."and he then qualifies his statement, "when they are informed".  So true.  Clearly a tragic consequence of the insanity called the embargo is how high the level of our ignorance is about this policy.   Most Americans do not even know how the Cuban embargo works, that it even exists, how it ends, or even why it is in place.  Most only know that they cannot freely travel to Cuba or buy a Cuban cigar or a bottle of Cuban rum because of a feud between Miami and Havana that has been going on for more than fifty years.

When the embargo ends and it will end, we will be reminded of a very dark chapter of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, a tragic stain for the history of the Cuban family, and what a wasted opportunity for two peoples.   Neighbors, who at their essence actually love and admire one another, yearn for friendship and normality once more.  May the curtain of water come down soon.

For more information see www.curtainofwater.com

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