by Renee Reeve
We are living in a historic moment. On July 20, 2015, the United States opened its embassy door in Cuba, a door that has been closed since 1961. With the United States and Cuba back on friendlier terms, things will definitely change for Cuba.
The reopening of the US Embassy was the last step in a fifty-year plus diplomatic and economic fight with Cuba. When Cuba announced its pledge towards communism, and in turn, sided with the communist Russians in 1959, the US was not happy. We hated the Russians during this time, so much so that we started the Cold War with them. Because of our apprehension to communism, we wanted nothing to do with it, especially so close to our border. So we responded with the only way we knew how, by cutting off all trade and invading the island. The trade embargo worked, but the invasion did not. This led to the infamous Cuban Missile Crisis and failed Bay of Pigs invasion. With this invasion, the government was hoping to overthrow Fidel Castro. Unfortunately, the invasion failed and Castro remained in power. Instead, a deal was made where the Cuban missiles would be disassembled and the US would not invade anymore.
Thus, Cuba and the US were cut off from each other. During this time of silence, Cubans started to immigrate to the US, particularly in the 80’s. As they crossed the border, the issue of human rights in Cuba became evident. Under Castro’s dictatorship, free speech, assembly, and other basic human rights were basically nonexistent.
So what does this all mean for today? Cuba is still under the dictatorship of Raul Castro, brother of Fidel Castro. Though Raul promised to bring back some of their freedoms, many are still being denied, especially freedom of speech. According to BBC, the number of jailed journalists in Cuba are 167, fallen from 201 people. This number has fallen, but issue is still not gone. Now that the US holds an embassy in Cuba, the issue of human rights may become more prominent. With aligning itself with the US, Cuba has become more globalized than ever before. Only time will tell if our presence will change anything.