Deceptive Euphoria: US Changes Policy Toward Cuba
Nil Nikandrov - http://www.strategic-culture.org
Last December US President Obama had to admit that the US Cuba policy had failed. It took Washington about fifty years to understand a basic fact: sanctions, economic and trade embargo, as well as the attempts to isolate the small island were doomed from the very start.
The Cuban revolution has stood up to the challenges to protect the independence and sovereignty. The national leadership has defined the strategic mission to accomplish on the way of modernization. The Castro brothers – Fidel and Raul – stood at the origin of the reforms leaving far behind the old ideological dogmas.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has welcomed the restoration of diplomatic relations. Its statement says, «We consider the decision to restore diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States and to open embassies in the capitals of both countries as an act of historical justice. This measure is long overdue and objectively reflects the changing international realities that are increasingly comprehended in the world, including, we hope, in Washington as well.
We believe that the agreements reached will create a favourable backdrop for accelerating the resolution of numerous issues that have accumulated around Cuba for half a century; primarily, the full lifting of the blockade and the return of the Guantanamo military base, and will facilitate the development of regional cooperation. We support the normalisation of US-Cuban relations. We believe that Russia and Cuba have all of the opportunities for further expanding bilateral cooperation on a whole range of issues of mutual interest in accordance with our long-standing foreign policy priorities and in the spirit of strategic partnership».
Cuba boasts growing international clout. It develops the bilateral ties with China, Russia, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina and leading European states. The investments into economy are growing, the forecasts for economic development are optimistic. Some say Cuba has gone through the mill standing up to embargo and other punitive measures. Now it can do without the United States. Washington does not see the Cuban problem as an issue of bilateral relations. Latina America opposes any attempts on the part of the United States to encroach on Cuban independence. One of analysts has said ironically that the US tries to do away with Cuban independence to turn it into «an ally» like Guatemala or Honduras.
Many a time President Obama has been told by his Latin America counterparts to normalize the relations with Cuba. Presidents of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and other Latin American states have warned that they would ignore summits if it does not take place soon. The US confrontation with Cuba has been a problem for many countries of the continent. The «punishing imperial hatred» on the part of the United States did not serve their interests. Cuba has been an example of US «imperialism in action» to undermine the trust towards the US in Latin America.
Now the United States demonstrates its readiness for a dialogue. The pictures of US and Cuban diplomats exchanging handshakes hit TV screens. There are many reasons for changing the US policy toward Cuba. The administration has announced the change of policy making conciliatory remarks. Obama-initiated consultations had lasted for a year and a half. Some Latin American states saw this change of policy as an attempt to undermine Cuba from within. Until recently the United States Interests Section of the Embassy of Switzerland in Havana, Cuba or USINT Havana (the State Department telegraphic address) had represented US interests in Cuba till July 19, 2015.
The Cuban security agencies have said many times it was involved in a secret war against the government of the island nation. Now the United States has opened embassy (in the building of the former mission) in Havana to have a «legal» base for conducting subversive activities by America special services. Aside for the fact of opening the embassy, there is no progress in the bilateral relationship achieved or looming. The US migration policy may cause conflicts. Mass media report there are plans to «repatriate illegal immigrants» from Cuba. The cancellation of trade embargo is not in sight as yet, American companies face restrictions dealing with Cuba, the companies of third countries are banned from exporting «made in Cuba» products to the United States or selling the commodities including Cuba-produced components.
There are no plans to rectify the US repressive financial policy toward Cuba. The return of Guantanamo military facility to Cuba is not part of the agenda. Western analysts say no US investments into Cuban economy are expected to take place till the Castro brothers control the country. The US has adopted many punitive measures against Cuban economy. It takes time to do away with them. There are many staunch opponents of Cuba in Congress who stand in the way of rapprochement. Obama has said many times that the restoration of economic ties will not be an easy walk. It will need time and effort.
Cuba has no intent to change the fundamental principles of its policy. In March Raul Castro supported the government of Venezuela after Obama issued an executive order declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela. The explanation was laughable – allegedly Venezuela posed a threat for the United States. Raul said that Cuba was adamant in its desire to express solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution, President Nicolas Maduro and the civil-military union. «The position of our country is invariable. I reiterate the strong solidarity of the Cuban revolution with the Bolivarian revolution, with President Nicolas Maduro and the civil-military union that it leads. I reiterate the absolute loyalty to the memory of Hugo Chavez, the best friend of the Cuban revolution», he said.
Raul Castro emphasized that the Cuban leadership held a realistic view of Washington’s policy. «The facts show that history cannot be ignored. The US relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean has been marked by the Monroe doctrine and the principle of exercising dominion and hegemony over our nations», Castro added. Moscow welcomes the restoration of US-Cuban ties. It believes that Russian and Cuba have opportunities to give an impetus to further progress in bilateral relations within the framework of strategic partnership. Havana is interested in comprehensive cooperation with Russia. It has always supported it on the international arena.
A diplomatic cloud was cast over the European Union (EU) and Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) June 2015 summit in Brussels when Cuba said it was opposed to sanctions imposed against Russia over Ukraine. On the second day of the high profile EU-CELAC meeting First Vice President of the Council of State of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez said: «We once again state our rejection of sanctions against this country». He made remember that the United States continues to enforce the economic blockade against Cuba.
Russia and Cuba work on joint long-term projects in energy, civil aviation and other realms. That’s what Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in his remarks devoted to the recent meeting with Cuban counterpart Bruno Rodrigues and Raul Castro, President of the Council of State. It is predictable that Cuba will do its best to prevent the United States from interference into internal affairs of the country. The Cuban government has rich experience of fighting the US-created fifth column, networks of non-governmental organizations and innovative technologies used nowadays to create a managed opposition. Will the United States stop subversive activities? Hardly so, it will most certainly use true-and-tried methods adapted to new missions and opportunities.
This August a convention to unify Cuban opposition is scheduled to take place in Puerto Rico. It will bring together dissidents residing in Cuba and other countries. The agenda includes the need to prepare for a transitional period on the way to create a new Cuba which would be free and democratic. Guillermo Toledo, First National Cuban Coordinator, said the convention will focus on working out a common strategy on «new Cuba».
According to him, Cubans have to solve their problems independently from the dialogue between the United States and the Cuban government to make human rights respected and build a new country. He also stated that the opposition he leads is not against the agreement. As a peaceful political force it should use the opening opportunities to gain freedom and democracy. Using the term «peaceful opposition» Toledo distanced himself from the opposition groups operating in Miami which fight for historic revanche with an aim to defeat the Cuban revolution. The «convention» coincides in time with the scheduled visit of US State Secretary John Kerry to Havana.