For 5 years, Babalú has been defending George Bush at the expense of the Cuban people. Whenever Bush said "Cuba libre" -- which was often and to no effect -- it sounded to me as if he were ordering a drink. For the Babalunians it was music to their ears and manna on their tongues. No, I don't think that they really believed that Bush would do for Cuba what he did for Iraq. It was just comforting, in a lullaby kind of way, to know that there was someone in the White House who "knew our pain" even if he also exploited it and never sought to alleviate it. Unlike George Bush, Barack Obama will not be content with mouthing platitudes; he will be, in Mas Santos' words, very "proactive about Cuba." That means that he will meet with Fidel and Raúl (and any other sworn enemy of the U.S.) without pre-conditions, which happens, incidentally, to be the only pre-condition imposed by Castro himself for negotiations with the U.S. or any other country: "take me as I am."
Having capitulated to Castro unconditionally, Obama will then proceed to "normalize" relations with Communist Cuba, which essentially involves the admission on the part of the U.S. that Castroism is the normal condition for Cubans, or perhaps I should say the formal recognition of same, since in practice that has been the U.S. position for decades and certainly for Bush's two terms. The difference now is that the U.S. will not only guarantee the political survival of Communist Cuba, it will also become responsible for its economic survival. After having defaulted on all its creditors over the last 50 years, Castro will now return to the original source of his expropriatory predations and get a second chance to "build Communism" on the backs of Americans, but not unsuspecting Americans as in 1959 but complicit ones.
There is nothing that can be done to stop Barack Obama from handing the ultimate lifeline to the Castro regime. Cuba may indeed become the "next Israel," as Más Santos hopes. Certainly, the U.S. may have need of another Israel once it abandons the one in the Middle East. I have no doubt that Fidel Castro can be as obeisant a lacquey to an Obama administration as he was to the Soviet Union if the U.S. is paying all his bills and never mentioning the subject of human rights. The blood and sinew of the Cuban people have always been for sale to the highest bidder in Castro's slave market. Fidel will no doubt enjoy the irony that it is a black man that will go to bid there.
The implications of Barack Obama's election, however, have been set aside at Babalú at least for today. Led by Val and Sr Cohiba the Babalunians have been falling over themselves taking voluntary loyalty oaths to President-elect Obama in anticipation, no doubt, of the soon-to-be prescribed one. It is, for them, a kind of reverse racism. If Bernie Sanders had been elected president, they would feel no compulsion to embrace him. But because Senator Sanders is a white Socialist and Obama a black one, they feel compelled to demonstrate that their animus is not racial in nature, as if that assumption had any validity before they chose to address it. All this slobbering about "Obama is our president, too" -- so reminiscent of Fantomas -- nicely complements Obama's own assertion that those who didn't vote for him are as important to him as those who did. Such reciprocal hypocrisy is exactly what we would expect of both Obama and Babalú, nothing more and nothing less; and based upon it, there may indeed be common ground between them.