Did President Obama hear about the Chester family?
Before Castro, there were many Americans who invested and did business in Cuba. I mentioned in an earlier post that my uncle worked for an American who had a manufacturing operation in his hometown. He was one of many who invested in Cuba, created jobs, and contributed to the island's economy.
From President Johnson to President George W. Bush, talks with Cuba never got far, because the Castro regime refused to compensate Americans like the Chester family:
Soon after Fidel Castro won control of Cuba in 1959, his government began confiscating the property of thousands of U.S. citizens and companies.
For Edmund and Enna Chester, the losses included an 80-acre farm, hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of stock, and a brand new Buick that, who knows, may still be plying Havana's streets.
The confiscation of American property, valued today at $7 billion or more, was wrapped up in the retaliatory back-and-forth that led to the trade embargo, which remains in place.
In 1996, Congress passed a law insisting Cuba repay Americans for what was taken before the embargo can be lifted.
That demand went unmentioned in President Barack Obama's December announcement that the U.S. and Cuba would resume diplomatic ties.
Given Cuba's frail economy, some experts say companies whose property was taken might gladly settle for rights to do business there today and move on.
But a corporation doesn't hang on to memories the way a family can.
That's clear in places like Chester's 832-square-foot bungalow in Omaha, pitched atop a corner lot that's mostly slope, where a gold-framed oil portrait of her mother from long ago watches over the yellowing property deed and the worthless stock certificates.
They are reminders that the Cuba that existed before Castro is history.
But the bitterness over what came after lingers on.
Who speaks for people like the Chesters? Who is banging on the table demanding that they be compensated for the money stolen by the Castro regime? I guess that the answer is not the Obama administration.
Since President Obama announced the talks between Cuba and the U.S., everyone has been asking me: is this good for Cuba, Cubans, or Cuban-Americans?
I always reply by saying: Is it good for U.S. citizens? The answer is no!
This is not a good deal for U.S. citizens. Nobody is standing up for them, whether it's the Chesters or the family of the state trooper killed in New Jersey by Joanne Chesimard.