Monday, June 01, 2009


With all the horrific news of the weekend, it was encouraging to find one bit of sunshine: the relationship between the United States and Cuba is actually beginning to thaw, if only a little.

From the Washington Post:

Cuba has agreed to restart talks with the United States on immigration and has signaled its willingness to cooperate on issues including terrorism, drug trafficking and even mail service, a sign that the island's communist government is warming to President Obama's call for a new relationship after decades of tension, U.S. officials said Sunday. ...

The announcement of the talks could take the edge off what was shaping up as a battle over Cuba at a regional meeting of foreign ministers that Clinton is scheduled to attend Tuesday in Honduras. The ministers have been considering readmitting Cuba into the Organization of American States, the main forum for political cooperation in the hemisphere, for the first time since 1962.

While the restarting of these talks is a small step, it is significant. The Bush administration broke off talks on immigration in 2003 and there have been no formal contacts between the two nations since then. The timing is just as important. Latin America has evidenced its displeasure with the US insistence on isolating Cuba, and it was clear that much of the upcoming OAS meeting was going to be taken up with ways to increase the pressure on the US to roll back the economic sanctions imposed on Cuba.

What I consider to be the most important impact of the announcement is, however, a recognition of the change in US foreign policy with respect to Latin America, an area of the world pretty much ignored by the prior administration except when it came to jamming free trade agreements down the throats of various hemispheric neighbors.

...Obama pledged at a regional summit in Trinidad and Tobago in April that he would seek "an equal partnership" with Latin American leaders rather than dictating to them. [Emphasis added]

Admittedly, the Obama administration will have to tread carefully. There are still elements in this country which want no lessening of the isolation imposed on the Castro government decades ago, some of them with key positions in Congress. President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton will have to deal with the tough issue of human rights violations by the Cuban government. That said, human rights violations, including the imprisonment of dissidents, haven't stopped our engagements with other nations with poor records (China, Saudi Arabia), and it shouldn't stop engagement with Cuba, especially at this stage.

This is the kind of change I had hoped for. To see it come to fruition is encouraging.

It's about time.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sure hope the Cuban government doesn't back down and give in to the American demands to allow drug trafficking. Ever since they threw out the Mafia and the other gangsters in the 50s, they've done a really good job in keeping drug dealers out of Cuba. It'd be a shame if the corporate drug dealers working under the aegis of the Demcoratic and Republican parties are able to move in there again, and destabilize it the way they have Columbia, Mexico and so many other places.

2:50 PM  
Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

It is the implicit objective of USer policy toward Cuba to ease the way for the "volveristas" to return and undo all the advances of the Revolution.

Within a couple of years of the 'normalization' or relations, there'll be a Cuba Free Trade Agreement, and the island will become inundated by Americanos trying to get rich o the bones of the Cuban people.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

PS: Murkins do not touch anything that then does not turn to shit, pretty soon...

3:42 PM  

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