The United States is normalizing its relationship with Cuba after 50 years of being, shall we say, standoffish.
In 1962, for 13 days while I was starting my junior year on high school, the world teetered on the brink of nuclear war during what was known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. We even had a kid come into our class whose family had just fled Cuba.
At the time, I had no idea we were that close to World War III.
Nevertheless, when Fidel Castro aligned himself with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, diplomatic relations with the U.S. were discontinued.
So, for more than five decades, we have been at odds with the tiny republic 90 miles off our Florida coast.
Now, we’re reopening an embassy there. Americans will be allowed to go there again. And Cuban cigars will once again be legal to purchase in the United States.
For many people, the impending availability of Cuban cigars is the most important thing to come out of this change.
(We must also remember that JoAnn Chesimard, who was convicted of murdering New Jersey State Police Trooper Werner Foerster in May 1973, escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba in 1984, is still being given asylum there and will have to be returned to the U.S. now.)
But while everyone is waxing poetic about the incoming flood of real Cuban cigars, I think we here in the States should be trying to entice Cuban auto mechanics to come to this country.
You scoff? Think about it, friend. Since we embargoed Cuba in the early 1960s, no new American cars have been allowed into the country. Look at photos from Cuba and you see antique American cars, in impeccable condition and, apparently, running in tip-top condition.
For 50-some years, somebody had to be fixing and maintaining those cars in running condition. They’re not sporting antique car plates, folks — these are cars used for everyday transportation, so they need to be running in great condition.
So, think about how welcome these genius mechanics would be in this country?
I’m getting older and don’t smoke, so I’m not excited about Cuban cigars. Cuban mechanics, on the other hand, are a different story.