December 17th, 2014
09:42 PM ET

Looking back on America’s complicated relationship with Cuba

Today’s announcement of a diplomatic breakthrough with Cuba reverses the policy of nine U.S. Presidents dating back to 1961. Anderson looks at the complicated and often messy history that led to this moment.

During President Jimmy Carter’s adminstration, he tried to normalize ties with Cuba and recently worked to win Alan Gross’ freedom. Tonight he told Anderson that if he had more time in the White House, there would have been full diplomatic relations with Cuba back then.

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  1. docyanez

    As I watch Anderson Cooper on CNN reporting the changes in US-Cuba policy, with tears welling from the significance of today, a photo of my uncle – Captain Jesus Yanez Pelletier flashes across the screen – with the famous Yanez grin – in between Fidel Castro and then, Vice President Richard Nixon. It is a photo my family and I have cherished for many years, and now all get to see the complicated history our country has had with our neighbor 90 miles to the south.
    Jesus was ordered to poison Fidel after his first failed attempt to overthrow Batista in 1953. My uncle disobeyed those orders and then went into hiding in Mexico and became Fidel’s right hand playing an important role in the overthrow of Batista. When Fidel took control of Cuba, Jesus returned as a Captain and accompanied Castro to Washington, DC – where they laid a wreath on the Lincoln memorial and met with V.P. Nixon and Secretary of State Christian Herter. Not too long afterwards, Jesus and my other uncle Bernabe were accused of crimes against the Cuban government and tried and sentenced to Cuban prison indefinitely.
    I am the daughter of a Cuban exile who left everything he had including a pregnant wife, with nothing more than his watch and underwear, in an upright bass case– to avoid the fate of his brothers. He died, never seeing his mother or other brothers again. I am the niece of Cuban dissidents and men imprisoned for first supporting and then opposing the Fidel regime.
    Jesus and Bernabe Yanez Pelletier were held and tortured in Cuban prisons, forced to watch men die and came close many times themselves.
    There should be nothing more satisfying than seeing torture come to someone who tortured my kin. If anyone should hold a grudge, it should be me. But I don’t. Cubans of today did not hurt my family – Fidel did. Inflicting pain on others never rights the pain of the past. It only deepens the wound and creates new wounds that are harder to heal. If we are honest with ourselves and ready to heal, we have to admit that the sanctions and policies meant to harm Cuba have predominantly harmed Cubans. If we are really honest with ourselves, we will ask why it took us so long to change policy when we do business with countries that violate human rights on a daily basis. You would be hard-pressed to find a home in the United States without a ‘Made in China’ label. But yet, for 50 years, our policies stood strong and unwavering.
    I love my country, and today I am a proud American, proud of the courage it took to reverse enshrouded rhetoric and policy and open the doors of communication so change can actually occur.
    G_d bless America.

    December 17, 2014 at 9:59 pm |

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