President Trump, in front of an enthusiastic group of Venezuelan expats at Florida International University in Miami on Monday, declared “socialism is dying,” thus raining on the parade of AOC, Sanders and all their ilk. He promised support for the overthrow of the tyrannical Maduro regime in Venezuela.
But South Florida Latins have heard such promises before.
On December 29, 1962, President John F. Kennedy told a crowd of Cuban patriots, veterans of Brigade 2506 of the Bay of Pigs operation, and their families at the Orange Bowl in Miami that his administration would spare no effort to free Cuba from the grip of Castro. My Dad was one of the Cubans who heard that speech. But he didn’t have historical amnesia.
He remembered that the previous year Kennedy had ordered the USS Essex, at sea right off the Bay of Pigs, to ignore repeatedly requested and promised U.S. air cover to the brigade. They were being slaughtered on the beaches. The brigade was overrun in a short time. Many were killed and others taken prisoner. Kennedy was in Miami to cover his ass and claim the brigade’s flag would one day fly over a free Cuba. They cheered, mostly at the First Lady’s eloquent Spanish. But few bought it.
He could have kept his word and supported the invasion. He could have called it off. Instead he took the middle road of indecision and free Cuban infantry paid for it.
Kennedy blamed the fiasco on the military and the CIA. But the lack of nerve was all his own and Cuba remains in chains because of it.
Trump has taken a different approach. He, with dozens of our allies, has gradually dialed up the diplomatic and humanitarian pressure. He talks big and acts smart. He doesn’t overpromise here and doesn’t get ahead of the power curve there. He’s put Maduro in the unenviable position of denying vital supplies to his own people, thus risking further internal ire. Trump is also talking over Maduro’s head to the generals who keep him in power. I would guess more generals are listening every day. No Yanqui invasion at all. The deal will be done from within.
Latins with memories, like me, can contrast the empty promises of Kennedy with the intelligent resolve of Trump. Kennedy’s record on this issue is cast into obscurity and ridicule, as Cuba passes the 60th anniversary of communist oppression and Maduro loses more options every day.
Granted, the jury is still out on Maduro’s fate. But the record will show that the realism and principles of Trump and his global allies on this will fare well against the vainglorious mere words of that most overrated of ex post facto presidential marketing gimmicks, Camelot.