Burying legacies of the Cold War - Pope Francis in Cuba

FOR more than half a century America imposed a choking blockade on Cuba because it was socialist and dared to offer the Soviet Union a toehold in its orbit, just 90 miles from its shores. The blockade may have been justified all of those years ago, but it was sustained in a cold-hearted way that made an example of Cuba and condemned its people to live in a society, and an economy, that could not reach its potential.

That situation no longer pertains because President Obama realised that it served no purpose other than to humiliate Cubans who were not even born when the 1962 missile crisis forced the world to hold its breath. It also undermined America’s position in the world — and its assumed moral authority. Pope Francis, who facilitated the secret Vatican talks that led to the rapprochement, visited Cuba at the weekend and hailed the lifting of the blockade as a victory for “engagement and dialogue” and “an example of reconciliation for the whole world”.

As legacy issues from the Cold War are settled one after the other, and as many other issues prove so very destructive, it would be wonderful if we developed to the point that we could have the peace talks without having a war first. This seems an impossibly naive hope, a reality confirmed when the fates of the people of Cuba and Ukraine are compared. One society is released and may join the contemporary world, while another lives in the shadow of an assertive and restless bear.


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