” . . . . President Jefferson, mindful of the desires of his Southern political base, adopted a hostile stance toward St. Domingue. The stage was set for isolation of the tiny island nation, a choice that had enormous consequences for its development.Napoleon brought a new challenge to St. Domingue when he decided in 1802 to reassert control over French colonies in the Americas. He sent a fleet to the island to accomplish the task. The residents fought back and, with the help of Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that carries yellow fever, repelled the invaders. This victory was fateful not only for the residents of St. Domingue, who went on to form an independent republic that they renamed Haiti, but also for the course of American history.Napoleon, as part of his plan to re-establish the French empire in the Caribbean, was hoping to use the territory of Louisiana as a supply station for the island colonies. Once the Haitians had shattered his dream, Napoleon saw no reason to hold on to the territory. He was eager to sell it, and President Jefferson was equally eager to buy.The purchase doubled the size of the United States, which obtained 530 million acres for $15 million. If not for the French defeat at the hands of the Haitians, the sale may not have come off, leaving the United States possibly forever divided by a huge swath of French-controlled land or forced into armed conflict with the French over it. Of course, what the United States really bought from France was the right to contend with the various Indigenous people who had their own claims to the land.” . . .
By Nicholas Kristof
Jan. 23, 2019, 244 c
American and Cuban flags flying from a balcony in Havana.CreditCreditIvan Alvarado/Reuters
HAVANA — It has been 60 years since Fidel Castro marched into Havana, so it’s time for both Cuba and the United States to grow up. Let’s let Cuba be a normal country again.
Cuba is neither the demonic tyranny conjured by some conservatives nor the heroic worker paradise romanticized by some on the left. It’s simply a tired little country, no threat to anyone, with impressive health care and education but a repressive police state and a dysfunctional economy.
Driving in from the airport, I saw billboards denouncing the American economic embargo as the “longest genocide in history.” That’s ridiculous. But the embargo itself is also absurd and counterproductive, accomplishing nothing but hurting the Cuban people — whom we supposedly aim to help.
After six decades, can’t we move on? Let’s drop the embargo but continue to push Havana on improving human rights, and on dropping support for other oppressive regimes, like those in Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Let’s make room for nuance: Cuba impoverishes its citizens and denies them political rights, but it does a good job providing basic education and keeping people healthy. As I noted in my last column, on Cuba’s health care system, Cuba’s official infant mortality rate is lower than America’s (its real rate may or may not be).
By Ruth Behar
Dec. 4, 2018
Idania del Río, the owner of the graphic design shop Clandestina, in Havana.CreditCreditYamil Lage/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Turning Point: Raúl Castro resigns as Cuba’s president.
“It was yours,” my mother announced. She held out a girl’s blue school uniform.
She’s 82 now and still surprises me with mementos she took from Cuba and has kept packed away since the ‘60s.
A star was sewn onto the front and it had a thick hem to be let out as I grew.
“Don’t you remember?”
I shook my head.
“You wore it when you were 4 years old. You went to the same Jewish day school in Havana that I went to. Classes were in Spanish and Yiddish. Wasn’t that amazing? Then Castro came.”