The Present and Future of Cuba – US Relations

Elio Delgado Legon

President Barack Obama, right, speaks during an event about entrepreneurship and opportunity for Cubans, with American broadcast journalist Soledad O'Brien at La Cerveceria in Havana, Cuba, Monday, March 21, 2016. Foto: Photo/Desmond Boylan/AP
President Barack Obama, right, speaks during an event about entrepreneurship and opportunity for Cubans, with US broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien at La Cerveceria in Havana, Cuba, Monday, March 21, 2016. Foto: Photo/Desmond Boylan/AP

HAVANA TIMES — Over recent weeks, and particularly following President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba, much has been written about Cuba’s relations with its northern neighbor, and many have offered their perspective on the matter. I feel the need to share mine.

On December 17, 2014, when the Cuban and US presidents announced the decision to re-establish diplomatic relations, a long process of conversations aimed at normalizing relations between the two countries began. This process will be slow and fraught with obstacles we will have to overcome in order to arrive at full relations of a new type, such as have never existed between these two neighbors.

President Obama’s recent visit to Cuba has undoubtedly had a positive effect, as it implies acknowledging the Cuban government as an interlocutor and sending a message to the rest of the world in this connection.

The measures President Obama has taken to date are positive and are heading in the right direction, but they are not enough and, in some cases, prove impossible to implement while the obstacles imposed by blockade laws continue to exist.

Obama’s speech to Cuban civil society provides us with the key elements of the current US objectives and tells us what we can expect in the future.

The aims for the present were clearly laid out. The insistence on forgetting the past and looking only to the future seeks to cover up US policy over the years, support for criminal and neo-fascist regimes that have claimed thousands of lives, not only in Cuba, but across Latin America. All the while, the United States has assumed the position of a judge, a champion of human rights in all countries, even though it is unable to guarantee such rights at home.

Obama himself has tried to make us see that all of these things happened before he came to office, but support for the regime that violates the human rights of the Palestinian people isn’t a thing of the past; it is very much in the present.

With respect to Cuba, the US president made clear his objective of changing the socialist system and returning us to capitalism. To do this, he offered private businesses and the dissident groups they have manufactured and financed all of his support. As way of an example, they have just approved a budget of nearly US $800,000 to train “young, emerging leaders of Cuban civil society.”

As for the future, suffice it to pay close attention to what he said during the address. It was a political speech and, as such, what he didn’t say is as important as what he did.

Obama did not mention any of the issues Cuba put on the table, justifiably, in the search of normalized relations, such as the return of the area illegally occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base, an end to all propaganda radio and television broadcasts, in frank violation of the norms governing the use of the radio-electric spectrum, compensation for damages caused Cuba over 50 years of aggression of every kind (which no one can forget), the repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act and the wet foot – dry foot policy and an end to the visa program for medical doctors who abandon their work in other countries to emigrate to the United States.

Obama made no mention of any of this, which means there are no real intentions of normalizing relations with the revolutionary and socialist Cuba we have today.

Cuba has always been open to frank and respectful exchange and to work towards the normalization of relations, based on mutual respect and devoid of any meddling in the internal affairs of the other. Cubans aren’t trying to change the United States’ political system, which is full of defects and social injustice, but we also do not allow anyone to try and change ours, which isn’t perfect and we are trying to improve ourselves.

17 thoughts on “The Present and Future of Cuba – US Relations

  • I was telling the Cuban person who was 76 years old comparing Israel to hitters Germany that they had reason to not want a Palestinian state in their front or rear door they’ve been at hot and cold war with each other since before JESUS CHRIST walked the earth as part human and all GOD so they know the score give in to the United Nations and several if not all countries maybe even the USA and become a people if the Palestinian state state don’t kill them all I hope that is just my and some Israelis fear with no country

  • Okay I hope the USA and Cuba can work things out I was a baby when they became not so friendly so forgive me if I have doubts

  • Harvey and Hubert, it’s time to steer your comments back to the article and Cuba.

  • Perhaps you’ve never read THE KING JAMES VERSION OF THE HOLY BIBLE or any bible the Palestinians are descendants of the Philistines and were probably taught the descendants of Jacob stole their land and have no right to live there let alone exist as a country if they had their own country they’d probably develope or buy nukes from Iran North Korea China etc and bomb Israel and most of the so-called United Nations would side with the Palestinians and Israel would be a people without a country JEHOVAH said he will bless those that stand with his chosen people and punish those that stand against

  • Ben, it was the US Congress that linked change in the Cuba political system to ending the embargo in the language of Helms Burton, not me. That is current law, not my opinion.

    No question the Cuban government is not going for it. Hence, progress is moving slowly.

  • I know which one I’m going with. No debate in my mind. Why does the US trade embargo have to be phased out? How about lifting it next Tuesday. Are you linking a change in the Cuban political system to the lifting of the embargo? Sure sounds like it to me. I don’t think the Cuban Government will go for it.

  • Kennedy: it appears you have made an erroneous giant leap forward and assumed that I believe the US should impose our political / economic system on Cuba. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I totally support the Cuban people’s right to determine their own system recognizing their choice may be totally different from the US.

    I believe we must learn from the past but not be constrained by it going forward. We must focus on where we want to go and how we get there from where we are.

    But, to the hard core guts of the Cuban economy and the embargo I believe I am knowledgeable and unbiased. I live in Florida about 2/3 of the time and 1/3 in Cuba in a typical Cuban house, with a Cuban woman who is a manager for the Cuban government. I also have an economic background with a lot of letters, like MBA, CPA, CFO, after my name. I shop and live as a Cuban in spite of my personal resources because I love the Cuban people and culture..

    I see the US embargo doing very little currently other than providing an excuse to the Cuban government for their economic problems. I am free to travel and send money to Cuba. I can bring just about anything to Cuba. While in Cuba, I can arrange to buy just about anything from the US. In Cuba I can buy just about anything from any other country. Of course, the prices are very high if I buy them through the official Cuban government captive merchandising systems.

    I see foreign investment, something I know a bit about, limited by the policies of the Cuban government and not by any foreign government. I have evaluated some investments in Cuba as I have the ability and resources. One has the potential for significant economic return to the community by serving as a nucleus for new money from tourism where there currently is none. Everything works, except the overbearing policies of the Cuban government.

    Everyday, I also see the Cuban government political / economic system causing incredible constraints on productivity. I see well educated intelligent people grossly underemployed. I see 4-5 people doing a job that could better be done by one of them and a $400 computer. I see Cubans spending over an hour at the train station across the street or the bus station down the street just trying to get home every day. I see low productivity government farms and vast amounts of vacant farm land in a place where Cubans struggle for food. I see government distribution systems strangled by unmotivated employees and corruption. I saw an employee sit for 5 days at a store than only sells beer but had none. All they did for 5 days was to tell customers that there had been no delivery yet. I can go on for page after page of examples of the Cuban government policies constraining the economy. However, I must add that almost all the Cuban people remain happy because of their culture and relationships with neighbors and family.

    But anyone who believes Cuba is constrained by the US embargo and not the policies of the Cuban government needs to live in Cuba for a while.

  • Eventually, Palestinians must be allowed to have their own country, even if it is on only a small part of the Palestine that existed in 1947. Or they must be granted full citizenship in one democratic bi-national country. The current situation with Palestinians living under Israeli rule without basic human rights is not only wrong, it is untenable.

  • Brother Bob, The Cubans wanted a new political system to develop themselves. To be successful, could they embrace the same system which caused them to revolt against Batista who had them living in ignorance and disease? Answer me truthfully Brother Bob; the capitalist system is a system of degradation. It depends upon the suppression and exploitation of people. All those companies which are rich in America and Europe today became filthy rich because of cheap labour. If I want to liberate my people, could I use the same system which degraded them to liberate them? The answer is an emphatic NOOOOO! I will have to experiment with something new and the only other path is Socialism. If the UN Charter had to be ovserved, both systems could dwell together side by side and learn from each other. It was only after the 1917 Socialist Revolution in Russia that women were granted the right to work and to be educated and to receive equal pay like men. It was only after the Russia Revolution that child Labour was abolished. It was only after the Russian Revolution that workers were able to receive holidays with pay. It was the Revolution in Russia that introduced Maternity Leave . Whether or not you want to believe it, it was the Russian Revolution of 1917, which ushered in a change in the workers welfare and which forced capitalist countries like America to make capitalism a little more humane. If the UN Charter says that each country is Sovereign and has the righ to pursue the path best suited for it economic development, why is the United States so hostile towards the Cuban Revolution? Why is it trying its damnedest to destroy it? Cuba has not invaded its territory? Cuba has not declared war on it, so, why the embargo? If America ceases to extend its control over the world like Adolf Hitler did. the world would be a much peaceful. safer and friendlier world. We would all be good neighbours. America’s record is sordid. Look how they treated the Red Indians. Look how they lynched their black people in the South. Shouldn’t the klu klux klan be deemed a terrorist organization? Look at how they have supported the worst dictators in the world who oppressed their people. Look at how they supported the military dictators in Latin America. Look at how they supported the South Afican Apartheid system in South Africa and whispered not a word about the incarceration of Mandela for 27 years. Suppoted a brutal system of repression against the black people in South Africa even gave the Aparthied South Afican Government the nuclear bomb to be the police man of Africa just as it did in the Middle East with Israel? Do not forget that, if a ship visted a Cuban port, that ship could not visit an American port within six months. Tell me truthfully brother Bob, What did Cuba do to the great America to deserve this treatment? Isn’t America the aggressor? Isn’t America the world’s greatest bully? You ask the question, Which was holding back the Cuban economy will forever remain debatable. Come on brother Bob, what is so debatable about that question? If you are a man of integrity and if you are a man of principle, that question is not debatable? It is an historical fact, it is a Titus 2:8 fact that America wanted to destroy the Cuban Revolution because it presents another pathway to economic development for under developed countries. It represents an end to exploitation, oppression and backwardness. Could you kindly answer me brother Bob with historical and not hysterical facts? I eagerly await your comments!!

  • I believe the Cuban political stranglehold on their economy and the US trade embargo will be phased out simultaneously. The question of which was holding back the Cuban economy will forever remain debatable.

  • If Israel acquiesced to palestinian and un and other countries it would cease to exist probably within a month if not a week palestine doesn’t want peaceful coexistence it wants the end of Israel as for usa vs cuba we can call our people in office whether it be president senator or house member morons I’m guessing cubans can’t it ain’t perfect but we the people and Israel Great Britain lots of Europe some of Asia etc pick the people in charge so if we pick the wrong people we can change it in two to four years not so in china vietnam cuba and probably all communist stop the socialist bs maybe some countries are I highly doubt yours is

  • Its going to be interesting to see if the candidate with the most votes in the Republican primary’s gets to be that party’s Presidential nominee. So refreshing to see American Democracy at work where the people have a say.

  • There are some who say that the total American Economic Blockage and Trade Embargo imposed on Cuba for the past 55 years has not deterred other countries from investing in Cuba or otherwise engage in trade and economic relations. Apparently that is not so. The following newspaper article appeared to-day in the Vancouver {B.C.} Sun.
    “Cuba’s rapprochement with the U.S. is creating a window of opportunity for Canadian business to invest in the island country, it’s {Cuban} ambassador said. Ambassador Julio Pena said that despite decades of friendly relations between Canada and Cuba, the lengthy U.S. “blockade” has made many Canadian companies reluctant to invest so as not to risk American sanctions. But he said the relic of the Cold War will eventually slide into ” the dustbin of history”
    “When that happens we’d like to see many Canadian investors”., Pena said during a speech to the Montreal Council of Foreign Relations. He said Canada has underinvested in Cuba’s tourism sector even though more than 1.3 million Canadians vacation on the Caribbean’s largest island each year”.
    To try to minimize the adverse effects on Cuba of the Embargo and to blame Cuban Government policies for the country’s difficulties is to show a lack of understanding and appreciation of the real causes. The real test will come when the Blockade/Embargo is finally lifted.

  • Very well written, might not agree 100% but definitely good points. Gracias

  • Whover that person is you can rest assured that the people of Cuba will not have had a say in his elevation to power!

  • It’s nice to see someone criticizing the USA’s backing of Israel.
    How can Obama go around claiming to be the champion of democracy and back a country with apartheid.

  • It must be remembered the both President Castro and President Obama will be past presidents shortly. I think the new leader of Cuba will be Omar Everleny Perez. Your ideas on the next leader ?
    Gordon Robinson
    [email protected]

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