Cuba y Puerto Rico son / Cuba and Puerto Rico are
De un pájaro dos alas / Two wings of the same bird
Reciben flores y balas / They receive flowers and bullets
Sobre el mismo corazón / With the same heart
—Lola Rodríguez de Tío
The “momentous” yet seemingly long-planned announcement that the United States and Cuba have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations was an odd end to a chaotic year of crises and strife. From the summer of renewed violence in Gaza and the surge of unaccompanied children on the Mexican border to the anguish of Mike Brown/Ferguson and Eric Garner/Staten Island and the disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa, there seemed to be no end to conflagrations of long-stirring conflicts that expose the myth of American exceptionalism. The cost of freedom in the first-est of First Worlds that we live in is the increasing precariousness of life outside our borders—a carnage that is often not connected to our comfort, yet is a result of the burgeoning inequality created by the gospel of globalization. Yet now, perhaps one of the sorest points of contention in the hemisphere, the 50-year U.S.-imposed embargo of Cuba, is finally being acknowledged as a mistake.
But what will come now, with the embargo still largely in place? Even as talking heads and pundits from MSNBC to Fox News, Breitbart to The Nation, are weighing in on the political and economic fallout of the rapprochement between Barack and Raúl–one that may yet culminate in the tearing down of the commercial wall between free-trade capitalism and the socialist experiment of the United States’s closer-than-close neighbor—there is uncertainty and confusion about what it all means. That’s why today, on holiday in my second home, the unincorporated island territory, de facto colony, and imaginary nation of Puerto Rico, I’m going to engage not in a North-South cloud of speculation, but a Caribbean sea of questions from one eastern wing of this archipelagic bird to its western other.