Realism In The Future Of US-Cuba Relations / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos

The flags of Cuba and the United States waving as a lady on her balcony gives the “thumbs up.” (EFE)
The flags of Cuba and the United States waving as a lady on her balcony gives the “thumbs up.” (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Havana, 3 February 2016 – Last week President Barack Obama’s administration approved new measures to loosen the strings of the blockade-embargo on the way to normalization of relations between his country and Cuba. Presumably this will be the norm during what remains of his administration. Should the Democratic candidate win in the upcoming presidential elections, we can assume that this policy will continue.

But the same cannot be expected if any of the current Republican candidates wins, according to statements made by themselves and the opinions of prestigious international analysts.

The person in change of the matter in the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Josefina Vidal, has said that in no case would the new president of the United States break off relations with Cuba. This is a sign of Cuba’s willingness to maintain its current course with any new administration in the US.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been restored and now there is an effort to expand cooperation in a number of fields, some of them blocked by the policy of the embargo supported by both Republicans and Cuban-Americans in the US Congress.

However, we must not lose sight of the fact that, “it’s one thing with a guitar and something else with a violin”; that is, it is not the same to be in the opposition as it is to be in the government.

No one could rule out that behind the Republican resistance in Congress to lift the blockade-embargo, the most important factor could be avoiding that Obama and the Democrats get credit for delivering the coup de grace to communism in Cuba, which could mean reserving the lifting of the whole mess for themselves, once they are in the White House.

It was Republican Richard Nixon who began the thaw with China. The policy of rapprochement with the USSR, which many consider the beginning of the end of communism in Europe, was the work of another Republican administration, that of Ronald Reagan. Nixon visited Beijing, Reagan, Moscow. Perhaps they want to reserve the visit to Havana for another Republican and therefore are working to hamstring the current president.

Previous Republican administrations tried to approach Cuba. It was the administration of George W. Bush that was the first to lift some restrictions of the embargo-blockade related to the sale of food.

The United States establishment as a whole, for some time, has been becoming aware that the politics of the blockade-embargo should be changed for different reasons, and Republican governors, senators and representatives from states with potential investment interests in Cuba have been behind all of the moves to lift some of the prohibitions.

The current maneuvers in the American Congress to try to modify the Cuban Adjustment Act have served to encourage emigration and stimulated the open confrontation of sectors of the opposition, knowing that government reprisals will complicate progress in relations between the two governments and hinder Obama’s announced trip to Cuba.

No one knows better than the Republicans that there is a close relationship between the Cuban Adjustment Act and the lifting of the blockade-embargo.

On the other hand, the imperialist image of the United States trying to impose itself on Latin American has been broken with its approach to Cuba and it is no secret that this was one of the objectives of the new policy.

The setback for the anti-imperialist populist-statist forces in the region is not a direct consequence of this change in the image of the United States, but it is related to it to the extent that these forces find it more difficult to blame imperialist interference for their internal failures. Meanwhile the Cuban-American rapprochement strengthens the defenders of the United States on the continent.

Whoever becomes president after Obama, regardless of their party, could also benefit from this new image in the region to make U.S. policies aimed at strengthening its interests in the hemisphere more effective

Diplomatic relations are one thing and good political relations and collaboration are another. The administrations that follow Obama’s could take advantage of the opportunities that rapprochement brings to the U.S. as a nation to continue advances in areas of security, drug trafficking, human trafficking and the environment.

Those who continue to condition the relations between the two countries on democratic changes in Cuba are not taking into account that it could be reversed. This does not negate that there are fundamental obstacles to Cuba’s economic and social development derived from the persistence of the model of a centralized political economy imposed in the name of a non-existent socialism, and not as a result of imperialist policies as the Cuban government charges in an attempt to justify itself.

As opening spaces for the export of capital and goods is one of the objectives of any United States administration, and fostering conditions to achieve this with Cuba is what is now in play in the relations between both countries, any new administration would leave this path open.

A general assessment of this whole equation suggests that the predictions of some international analysts about the uncertain future of relations between both countries is a matter about which it is better to wait for events to develop, to be able to make a more accurate prognosis.