Shane Battier, Vasily Alekseyev and the Cuban Embargo

asilvevAs the supposed death watch on the Cuban Embargo unfolds, fear not my fellow reactionary bitterly exiled heartless souls, all is not lost. In fact, given octogenarian and nonagenarian actuarial tables, the probabilities still favor the Embargo being in effect when the first of the Castro brothers pass on to Gehenna. To avoid favoritism, every effort should be made to keep it in place until both have passed.

To help us understand why the Embargo is healthier than recent headlines would suggest, recall the following:

  • Cuban Embargo is a law which Congress must overturn
  • Republicans have controlled the House since 2011 and the Senate since 2015
  • Shane Battier
  • Vasily Alekseyev

Vasily Ivanovich Alekseyev was a Soviet weightlifter. He set 80 world records beginning in 1970 through 1977. He received a bonus every time he set a world record, so he made it a point to gradually increase his world records by 0.5 kg.

Think of Vasily when the next choreographed corporate initiative promoted by the State Department comes over the transom. Does everyone recall the cleverly planned PR campaign associated with the fall of the Berlin Wall? I don’t either. Real change trumps PR departments. I fantasize that within the State Department they’ve nicknamed their Cuba strategy ‘Vasilando como Vasily.’

In what may be the beginning of a foreign policy version of the SI jinx, Starwood’s $14 billion Anbang deal fell apart a few days after announcing their Cuba venture. The EU recently abandoned efforts to change Cuba’s one-party system. Brexit anyone? Somewhere Amado FakhreCy Tokmakjian and Sarkis Yacoubian smile and nod. They get why business is lured. They were willing to assume risks too, until they weren’t.

When only appearing to take a shot is the point

Shane Battier is a now retired NBA player who spent the final 3 years of his 14-year career with the Miami Heat. One of my all-time favorite Heat moments involved Battier fake-rolling himself on top of a helpless and apoplectic Joakim Noah during a playoff game.

Battier was known as a smart player. He would publicly admit that launching length of court shots at end of periods was something players avoided since it lowered their field-goal percentages. To give the appearance of trying, players launch the shot after the buzzer has sounded. Recently we saw Josh Richardson do it against the Lakers. However, it backfired when he actually made the disallowed shot and the Heat lost in overtime. I took it as another sign of Richardson’s development.

I thought of Battier in trying to put President Obama’s initial opening to Cuba in December 2014 in perspective. He’s been President since January 2009. His party controlled the House and Senate for his first 2 years. His party controlled the Senate for his first 6 years. And yet, he waited until after the November 2014 elections to move on Cuba.

In effect, once the buzzer had sounded on the elections his decisions could impact, the President launched his Cuba shot. The shot would have mattered in 2009 or soon thereafter, now it mostly pleases the like-minded outside of Cuba. Perhaps promoting the appearance of change was change enough for the administration. On behalf of Embargo lovers everywhere, thank you Mr. President.


About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
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