What perhaps isn't well understood in the United States, because the U.S. government considers itself a moral and ethical authority, is that the average Cuban isn't pressuring their government to work with Washington. In fact, average Cubans aren’t comfortable with the idea that a corrupt U.S. government and corrupt U.S. businesses may return there. They aren’t comfortable with the idea that capitalism may once again deprive Cubans of land, education, and healthcare rights, the way capitalism has in the past. Therefore, the United States must work with the Cuban government to help them create support for improving relations in this way.
In recent, years the government of Raúl Castro and President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez introduced voting in Cuba, and a market-based economy, very similar to the ones that exist in the United States. (Close to 80% of the country participated in their first election, and overwhelmingly chose their existing leadership.) The population and government also welcomed President Obama's diplomatic efforts. Cubans clearly want peace and better relations with the United States. They’ll welcome additional trading opportunities for their country. But it's the U.S. government (not the Cuban leadership) with a reputation problem in Cuba. The Cuban government will certainly welcome a full lifting of the embargo. But they’re under no pressure whatsoever from their own population to have entirely open trading relations with the United States.
President Obama's optimistic diplomacy with Cuba was tremendously successful. He understood that the Cuban government had nothing whatsoever to do with the results achieved for Americans by the United States government. The Cuban government made ending the embargo a centerpiece of Cuban foreign relations. Both governments therefore correctly sought an end of the nearly century-old embargo that separated family members from one another across a short ninety mile waterway. But the United States hasn’t convinced the average Cuban yet that a completely open trading relationship is in their country's interest, because Cubans want to retain their national identity and consequently their land rights.
Fidel Castro's "revolution" gave average Cubans a sense of peace and calm for the first time. It gave Cubans a sense of ownership of their own country. That’s a privilege for the Cuban people. The Castro government created dignity for millions of Cuban citizens by giving them each their own home. Fidel Castro was so popular in his homeland for ending homelessness that to this day many Cubans consider themselves to be his "revolutionaries," a compliment in Cuba with a perfectly peaceful connotation. It means courage and integrity to eleven million Cuban people.
Fidel Castro cared a lot more than just about peace. So does the current Raúl Castro and President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez administration. Fidel Castro created a sense of honesty for the government, and real work opportunities for the population. Under extraordinary circumstances, without the help of open trading relations with most other countries, Castro gave the entire population jobs. He created love and respect among Cubans for one another, and restored their sense of optimism, by making sure every single Cuban citizen (without exception) could meet their basic needs. He made it possible for every Cuban family to live inside a home, and receive excellent healthcare and education for free. Although the U.S. trading embargo made this challenging at times, millions of Cubans gained the dignity of peace, shelter, job opportunities, healthcare and literacy for the first time. This rapid progress for the Cuban people was about much more than just peace. It created durable support for the government that's much more deeply felt than perhaps is widely understood in the United States.
The United States should have understood this when Fidel Castro took office in the late 1950s, and taken advantage of his several visits to the United States to establish relations with Washington. But the context for those visits was simply too unhelpful. Today the United States is closely aligned with governments of all types. But in prior decades the United States wasn’t understanding of foreign systems of government. Senator Joseph McCarthy and United States congress created deep suspicions about foreign governments and their populations in the United States. They pursued non-existent boogie men (they branded “members of the communist party”) in the United States, as though belief or even mere interest in foreign systems of government such as Marxism represented disloyalty to the United States. McCarthy and his xenophobic contemporaries in Washington cast doubt on good and honest people (with the media watching), and created so much needless suspicion across the United States, that Fidel Castro’s efforts to improve relations with Washington were wasted. Castro furthermore supported the peaceful African American civil rights movement in the United States, and the women’s rights movement in Cuba, which was considered potentially destabilizing of the United States. Of no fault of Fidel Castro's whatsoever, who wanted to do something wonderful in opening Cuba up to the United States, his initial efforts for a great relationship with Washington didn't stand a chance of success.
Clearly nowadays there is the possibility of improving U.S. Cuban relations. Cuba has its first democratically elected government, and an increasingly capitalist society. (The government has far more integrity than Americans have been led to believe, and the government has done a tremendous amount for Cuba under extraordinary circumstances.) Cubans are very much like Americans. They vote and can work for themselves or private businesses, the same way that people in the United States can. They used to have to persevere under great pressure and sometimes threat from a very un-neighborly United States. And hardships created by the United States led to so much immigration that some estimate that a quarter of Florida’s population is from the island nation. Cubans in both countries want better U.S. - Cuban relations, but are hesitant to let that progress deprive their families of socialist property rights in Cuba. Fidel Castro made it possible for the entire population to have shelter for the first time. (Some received food, medicine and education, too.) They don’t want to let the U.S. change Cuba too much. They don’t want U.S. businesses to accumulate Cuba’s land again.
There is growing respect for Cuban society in both U.S. political parties. Both U.S. political parties find significant support from the Cuban community. Hopefully therefore the future is bright for U.S. - Cuban relations regardless of how U.S. develops politically.
Clearly the previous Obama-Biden administration can claim credit for being the first to get this right. They realized that the U.S. embargo on Cuba created for the United States and all countries a moral (and treaty) obligation to ensure the Cuban population’s food and other basic needs are met all of the time. This has been the correct foreign policy of the Biden-Harris administration recently. The current U.S. government deserves tremendous credit for compassion toward the Cuban people. Perhaps that’s why the Cuban population is entirely at peace in the United States. They’re one of the most peaceful immigrant groups. And both U.S. political parties are realizing that "revolution" in Cuba wasn't a challenge to the United States as a result. It referred to the dignity the Cuban government created for the Cuban people by ending corruption there and returning civil liberties to minorities (much like President Obama), such as millions of African-Cubans, who gained equal rights.
President Obama and then Vice-President Biden seemed to understand this well a decade ago, and identified with the struggle of minorities in Cuba the same way they did with minorities in the United States, and realized that prejudice instead of reason might have been preventing a U.S.-Cuba alliance. When they (heroically, in this writer’s opinion) opened up U.S. diplomacy with Cuba (in one of the best moments in the history of peace), and were negotiating an end to the embargo in 2016 that had the hope of U.S. congressional support, they started to restore the U.S. reputation in Cuba. They created a tremendous opportunity for mutual understanding to develop between U.S. and Cuban people by being generous. U.S. and Cuban people have every reason to be friends. One of the great moments in U.S.-Cuban relations was when President Obama travelled to Havana and gave fabulous speeches with Raúl Castro to the Cuban people. Current President Joe Biden seems to fully supported then President Obama’s initiative. The Obama-Biden foreign policy towards Cuba was courageous and visionary. More has to be done. But the United States is starting to show the Cuban government and people a similar amount of compassion that they show to populations of all peace-loving countries.