Saturday, December 20, 2014

What Would Milo Think?

My best friend was a Cuban-American.

I first met Emilio Rodriguez in grad school at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1979. We were both students in the political science doctoral program. He in International Relations and me in Public Administration and Public Policy. He went on to get his PhD from Carolina while I got a wife and no degree. In fact, he was the one who introduced me to my late first wife Rosanne.

Milo went on to teach at the University of South Alabama, the American College of Switzerland, and finally at Mount Saint Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland where he made an indelible mark on his students. He was leading a semester trip abroad in 2008 to Ireland  when he passed away from complications related to his kidney and pancreas transplant. Even now as I write this I am getting a lump in my throat and my eyes are moist.

Milo with his wife Amy, son John, and daughter in law Michelle.

While Milo was born in New Orleans to a Cuban dad and American mom, he spent much of his youth before the Cuban Revolution living in Havana. He had no love for Castro and the Communists.

Photo by Burt Glinn, Magnum Photos

I will always remember the stories Milo told about what it was like when the Communists came to power. The story that always resonated with me was about how they took his toy trains when he was an eight year old. They took them because Milo's family wasn't part of the proletariat.

What kind of people take a kid's toy trains in the name of La RevoluciĆ³n.

Now that Barack Obama has unilaterally re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba, I wonder what Milo would think. Milo was a pro-military, pro-gun kinda-liberal college professor who grew up in Miami and Madrid. He enjoyed Duke basketball, good cigars, good Scotch and cognac, military re-enacting, and girl watching. He may have said it was time or he may have said, "hell, no!". And frankly, I'll never know. As for me, I'm trending towards the "hell, no!" response so long as any Castro is alive and in power.


  1. I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other but I see two reasonable arguments here. One, don't reward a dictatorship by talking to them; two, have normal relations with a country regardless of how it is run. The first has been out policy for over sixty years. Doesn't seem to have had much effect. Why not try the second? Perhaps with a influx of American goods and ideas, the pressure to loosen up the reigns of power will come from the inside. Oh, and eliminate the "Americans are keeping us down" excuse that the Castros have been using for sixty years.

  2. This is probably the only time you'll ever see me write this, but I agree with Obama's decision -- at least on the end goal of normalizing relations with Cuba and ending the embargo. Now the manner in which Obama is going to achieve that goal -- unilaterally, without any conditions or meaningful concessions from Fidel & Raul -- is Brainless Idea Number N+1 from the regime.

    But back to my point: with Russia imploding, this would open the door to US influence displacing it in Cuba, and if we're lucky, displacing some of China's influence in Cuba too. Normal trade with Cuba could single-handedly make GM solvent again. ;-)

  3. George Burdell: You left unsaid, N is an extremely large number.

  4. Hell NO! The murdering swine should be buried face-down first.