December 25, 2014
On December 17, President Obama ordered the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba. He and Cuban President Raul Castro agreed in a phone call on the opening of embassies in each other's countries. Some time ago a personal contact between the two leaders would have been unbelievable. US media outlets were happy to report the news. The countries have been hostile to each other for half a century, but now their leaders make simultaneous public statements about normalization of the relationship. The diplomatic missions are to open soon in the capitals. At present the United States Interests Section of the Embassy of Switzerland in Havana, Cuba or USINT Havana, a small mission, represents US interests in Cuba.
The US is going to cooperate on many issues, including drag and slave trafficking, migration control and climate change. The United States is to lift a ban on construction materials and agricultural equipment for small private farms. US citizens visiting Cuba are allowed to return with the sums up to $400, including $100 spent on alcohol and tobacco. Americans could use credit and debit cards on the island and US banks are allowed to open accounts. The United States is to ease the rules for those who have relatives in Cuba, as well as for members of delegations, journalists and scholars. The State Department is studying the possibility to remove Cuba from the list of states that sponsor terror.
The US administration is not hiding the fact that it will not suspend its efforts aimed at the protection of human rights, support of private sector, maximum freedom of speech and meetings and broader access to Internet. The Washington’s readiness for rapprochement with Cuba is the way to create proper conditions for implementing the old policy aimed at destabilizing the Island of Freedom from within, not from outside as the US used to do it before. Talking on TV the US President admitted that the confrontational anti-Cuban policy proved to be inefficient. There should be other ways to influence Cuba. The economic embargo introduced in the 1960s and large-scale subversive actions have not led to the overthrow of Castro. The ruling Communist Party is still quite popular with its policy of rejuvenation bringing younger people in.
In the hard times of 1990s Cuba was almost isolated but it stood tall against all the odds. Almost all US anti-government efforts related to the activities of dissident groups, Internet bloggers and non-government organizations supported by USAID failed. The «fifth column» was discredited as a result of bickering over US-provided funds.
Many a time Cubans have tried to launch a dialogue with the United States. All these efforts have ended in failure. Washington has always put forward the demands unacceptable for Havana, for instance the demand for free all-nation elections with the participation of Cuban emigrants and non-government organizations financed by US funds. Raul Castro has unambiguously confirmed the Cuba’s readiness for talks with no string attached. One of American journalists was right when he said that if Cubans put forward preliminary conditions for talks then list would have been endless starting from the closure of Guantanamo naval base, where a concentration camp for prisoners is located, to ending the use of drones in different parts of the world leading to great civilian death toll.
Gradually Cuba has become a problem for all the states of Western Hemisphere without exclusion. The repressive Cuba policy was perceived by Latin American states as a geopolitical challenge and a potential threat to their national sovereignty. The adventurism and impunity of the Empire on the international scene has to great extent facilitated the integration process in Latin America, for instance, the emergence of such regional groups as UNASUR (the Union of South American Nations, USAN), CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), ALBA (the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) and some others. Constant political and ideological stand-off with the United States has brought to the fore such politicians as Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, former Brazilian President, Néstor Carlos Kirchner, the former President of Argentina, Hugo Chavez, the late President of Venezuela, Raphael Correa, the President of the Republic of Ecuador, Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia and some others. The solidarity with Cuba made Washington a bit more sober. It never dared to stage a color revolution on the island. There have been great doubts about the credibility of the «fifth column» - the Cuban security forces controlled its activities on the island and in the United States. The Cuban Five, also known as the Miami Five (Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González) are known throughout the whole world (the five Cuban intelligence officers were convicted in the United States of conspiracy to commit espionage). In Cuba the Five enjoy fame as national heroes who have sacrificed their liberty in the defense of their country. The activities of the «five heroes» to penetrate the subversive centers of CIA to frustrate the terrorist plans of radical emigrant groups are just an episode of the fight against the enemies of Cuban revolution. All the five officers arrested by FBI have been returned to Cuba. The event was marked as a national holiday.
It should be noted that the sanctions against Cuba have been introduced by Congress. That’s why Obama called on Congress to have an "honest and serious debate" to consider the possibility of ending the embargo. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says he would not rule out the possibility of ending the embargo till 2017. Media devoted a lot of time to a possible visit of President Obama to Cuba. The summit would be preceded by the visits to Cuba of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America Roberta Jacobson and State Secretary John Kerry. The Obama’s trip will be the climax of these diplomatic activities. The propaganda efforts are on the way to make the Washington’s plans on the change of Cuba’s policy attract great attention. Some media outlets even say that the United States shift on Havana is a victory of Washington’s diplomacy over Russia. Many analysts believe that the Russian factor is a driving force for abrupt change of US policy on Cuba. In recent years Russia has intensified its diplomatic activities in Latin America; it boosts its ties with Venezuela, Brazil, Nicaragua, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia.
The cooperation with Cuba is on the rise. The island is located at the distance of 90 miles from the United States. The progress in military cooperation between Russia and Cuba made Washington launch the policy of détente in its relationship with Havana and upgrade the policy of «soft power» to prevent he emergence of Russia’s military bases on the island. From time to time Russian military aircraft and naval ships make friendly visits to Cuba. Each time the United States raises ballyhoo about it. «Russians are coming!» hysterical voices cry out.
The affirmations that the «shift of US policy on Cuba» will weaken the Russia’s position in Cuba and alienate Latin America from the Russian Federation hold no water. The Russia’s foreign policy is not directed at third countries. "If those measures Washington has spoken about are put into effect, it will help to improve the situation around Cuba and it will be a positive step for us," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Russia Today television.
Still a significant part of US establishment is interested in painting Russia as a «strategic adversary» and keeping the economic embargo against Cuba in force. There is no reason to expect that the «the shift of policy on Cuba» announced by president Obama would lead to curbing the multiform subversive operations against the Island of Freedom.