By Chris Pena
The recent downing of two U.S. civilian planes by Cuba has once again put the American government at odds with one of the last bastions of communism in the world.
The United States has had an interesting relationship with Cuba throughout this century. First it liberated the island from the Spaniards, then granted it its independence before it supported the dictatorship of Batista and opposed Castro's communism.
Sunday's transgression by the Cuban government was tragic and controversial, but it also provided me an opportunity to analyze the status of Cuba's citizens, both at home and abroad.
As I sat there in amazement watching news reports on CNN, it seemed that all the interviewees from Little Havana were white, Cuban exiles.
That nearly insignificant observation set my liberal mind in motion.
For the record, I'm not a communist.
Yet I started realizing that the people who lost the most in the Cuban communist revolution were the ones currently exiled in the United States. They were the only ones able to afford to leave -- the poor had no choice.
The revolution accomplished very little for Cuba's poor. They're still living under a dictator, and this one has not made life any better for them than before.
The only difference between Castro and Batista is that elitism is less apparent in Cuba today.
Again, I noticed there aren't many non-white Cubans in this country. Most are back home because the white ruling class of the past treated them like plantation slaves.
Brothers for Freedom, the group who flies the planes that were shot down, and their exiled brethren want to topple Castro's government. But look closely, what are their true intentions?
I am in favor of deposing the communist Castro, but what's the price? What Cuba needs is to take care of its people.
If the exiles return to power, the situation will surely get worse for Cuba's citizens. The island country will degenerate into the atrocities of the past. I doubt that, all of the sudden, the former established elite will return to their homeland and become altruists.
What Cuba needs desperately is democracy.
The people now in Cuba, not those in Miami, should organize and fight for their natural right of self-determination.
If the country's poor succeed in toppling communism, you can be sure their lives will continue to be miserable for a longer period of time.
But they will have the best of both worlds: They'll have rid themselves of the land-owning elite who exploited them for more than 50 years, and they will set themselves on a road to democracy and abandon the awful experiment of communism.
Peöa is a senior RTV major.