I suppose if my thoughts had tended that way, I would have noticed that things were finally moving forward on the Cuban front. (The last front of the Cold War?)

Cuba!At 47, the embargo’s lasted longer than I’ve been alive, fuelled primarily by ageing Florida refugees whose assets in Cuba were seized in Castro’s revolution. This rather small community has held Florida’s electoral votes hostage since 1964, but finally, it seems, their influence has waned and very soon all those meticulously maintained ’59 Chryslers will find themselves crowded out by new imports.

Rachel Maddow made an interesting point on the subject last night (17 Dec.): The US is the only country to have held to the embargo. When the rest of the world enabled travel there, the US stood still. I had a number of American friends in Prague who traveled there. (One brought me a Cuban cigar – alas in the period between my requesting it and Dan returning from his travels, I gave up smoking. Another friend found it very tasty, though.)

In my youth, we had Ronald Reagan creating bogeymen out of the entire Communist world (while he himself engineered an invasion of another Caribbean island, Grenada. Even as the Cold War ended, and Russia no longer afforded to prop up Cuba with economic subsidies, we couldn’t see through to making some peace. Those refugees who had gotten rich off Bautista’s corruption (and whose class as a whole gave Guevara and Castro their raison d’être) were still relatively young 25 years ago.

The Democrats were still so beholden to this group seven years later that Clinton enshrined the embargo (which had for 35 years been maintained by executive order (from what I gather) into law. I’d need to do some research, but I’m pretty sure congress (by that time Republican in both houses) passed the bill in the wake of the Elian Gonzales fiasco. This leaves President Obama in the weird place, again, of doing a bunch of work by executive order that the new double Republican majority may undo. It’s interesting that many of the negotiations wrapped around these new changes were conducted with the Vatican. I have a guess that the erstwhile majority Catholic island of Cuba is reaping a certain benefit from the first Latin American pope.

The spy exchanges, I suppose, are an interesting aspect to this story, but I’m really curious as to how the status of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility will play out, especially in the wake of the torture report.

And, yeah, there’s the torture report. We knew this shit was going down ten years ago. John Woo defended the CIA’s use of torture before congress at the time. The New Yorker wrote about it. The extent of what we did might be surprising. The details of the techniques might be new. We might even be amazed that Dick Cheney is still defending it. But the report is not news. Putting the bastards on trial: That’d be news. A presidential pardon, which at least acknowledges the heinous criminality of the thing – that’d be news too.