Realignment between USA and Cuba?
-DR. ABDUL RUFF COLACHAL
Before we debate on emerging new US diplomacy towards Cube one simple question needs to be asked right here.
Is American imperialism capable of changes?
Can one expect US leadership respect humanity at large and to formulate humanist policies against capitalism, imperialism?
When American imperialists are losing world status step by step, now it is communist Cuba, one of the strongest US opponents, seeking better relations with its major foe.
In a speech given on 22 December before the National Assembly as the final plenary session of the year came to a close, the Cuban president recalled that Havana has expressed to Washington “on multiple occasions” its willingness to maintain a “respectful dialogue on equal terms, without compromising the independence, sovereignty and self-determination” of Cuba.
Although nothing new trend in international relations should surprise anybody, Cuban President Raul Castro, the heir-brother of revolutionary Fidel Castro who was known for his anti-Americanism, has called for “civilized relations” with the United States, saying the two countries should respect each other, especially their differences.
It seems Nelson Mandela after his death has just played a unity role in bringing together former global enemies by patching up their differences.
Even before the “meet” of Obama and Raul, Americans and Cubans are already on talking terms. In recent times, the relations between the two neighbors have shown signs of improvement of late, although some stumbling blocks to reconciliation remain.
It has come to light now that both countries have been in talks to for constructive cooperation. However, strategists on both sides doubt their intent. Castro said Cuban and American officials had met several times over the last year to discuss practical matters, such as immigration and the re-establishment of a postal service.
Fidel Castro, an ally of Soviet Union and opposing USA, is known for his bold action in 1963 “Cuban Missile Crisis” by threatening to push the missile button targeting America. Had he pushed the button perhaps that would have resulted in another world war.
Castro and Obama’s brief, unprecedented handshake awakened some expectations about bilateral relations, though neither government gave any importance to the matter, considering it a normal example of civil behavior.
In talking about relations between Washington and Havana, whose political differences go back more than 50 years, Castro did not, however, mention his greeting to US President Barack Obama in South Africa at the Memorial for the late South African leader, Nelson Mandela.
Cuba is once of reaming communist regimes on the face of the earth. Washington has failed to coerce Havana to change the system by allowing US multinationals to enter and control Cuban economy, but Cuba has vehemently opposed the great idea of CIA. .
To those countries that are blacklisted by the CIA for opposing USA for whatever reasons, Americans insists on the norms of shared values for any true relationships.
The US broke off relations with in 1961 after the revolution and maintains an economic embargo against the island. Although Washington keeps making some concessions of Cuba the relations have remain cold even after the end of Cold war.
President Raul Castro said the US should drop its demand for regime change on the communist-run island. That would allow both sides to continue work on improving relations. Castro’s comments in a rare public speech follow a public handshake with President Obama at the memorial ceremony for Nelson Mandela in South Africa earlier this month. We do not ask the United States to change its political and social system.”
Castro explained that the relations should be civilized and he warned: “If we really want to make progress in bilateral relations, we have to learn to respect each other’s differences and get used to living peacefully with them. Otherwise, we are only ready for another 55 years like the last. “If we really want to make progress in bilateral relations, we must get used to coexisting with them peacefully,” the president said during an address broadcast Saturday on state television. Castro told legislators at the closing session of the parliament in the capital, Havana that they do not ask the United States to change its political and social system, “nor do we agree to negotiate over ours”.
Castro again offered the US government the option of a “respectful dialogue” that would not compromise the island’s sovereignty, and said the two countries can establish “civilized relations.” Castro said: “If in recent times we have been able to have certain discussions on subjects of mutual benefit…we believe we can resolve other matters, establish civilized relations between the two countries, as our people and the vast majority of US citizens and Cuban emigrants would wish” .
Raul Castro, 82, took over from his brother, Fidel, in 2006, pursuing Fidel’s polices. Fidel had serious health problems and was never able to come back to power. Two years later, he resigned and transferred control permanently to Raul Castro, who has since carried out a program of economic reforms, which has helped efforts for relations with the US to be improved. But critics say the pace of change has been too slow, not to the liking or standards of the Americans. But Castro warned:”The reform process in Cuba cannot be rushed or it will lead to failure”.
Among the most recent changes announced by Raul Castro is the end of restrictions on private individuals to buy new and second hand cars. Cuban communist program is to restrict people to one car so that process of equality opportunities is on.
Now anyone with enough money will be allowed to order the vehicles from a government dealer. Until now, only those who were given a previous government authorization were allowed to buy cars in Cuba.
Many Cubans oppose the US embargo, arguing that it attacks the economic resources of Cuba’s people rather than its government. Economic damage resulting from the embargo is probably at least partially responsible for endemic food shortages and transportation difficulties in Cuba. Food imports from the United States have increased in recent years despite the embargo, resulting in slight improvements in this situation.
Academics outside of Cuba have also criticized the embargo for its effects on food, clean water, medicine, and other economic needs of the Cuban population. It has also been linked to shortages of medical supplies and soap which have resulted in a series of medical crises and heightened levels of infectious diseases. It has also been linked to epidemics of specific diseases, including neurological disorders caused by poor nutrition and blindness.
USA and Cuba, located in the same time zone, do not have common ideology as they do not share American values. Also, distance between USA and Cuba is 777 miles or 1250 KM (kilometers) and 538.21 meters.
Yet, the United States of America and Cuba have a long history of close economic and political ties. Though Cuba had been a Spanish colony for nearly 400 years, the island had developed increasing trade links with the United States during the 19th century. In December of 1898, Spain ceded control of Cuba to the US following its defeat in the Spanish-American War.
Plans for purchase of Cuba from the Spanish Empire were put forward at various times by the USA. As the Spanish influence waned in the Caribbean, the United States gradually gained a position of economic and political dominance over the island, with the vast majority of foreign investment holdings and the bulk of imports and exports in its hands, as well as a strong influence on Cuban political affairs.
As it could not purchase Cuba from Spain, the USA later assisted Cuba in its liberation from Spain in 1902, yet frequently intervened in Cuban political affairs. There was substantial US investment in Cuban production of sugar and tobacco for export, and in tourism, as well as preferential access for Cuban exports to the USA. By 1926 US companies owned 60% of the Cuban sugar industry and imported 95% of the total Cuban crop.
The Cuban Revolution of 1959 saw the overthrow of General Fulgencio Batista and the rise to power of Fidel Castro. The U.S. government formally recognized the new Cuban administration, but relations were to deteriorate rapidly as the Cuban government passed the first Agrarian Reform Law, allowing for the expropriation of large-scale (largely American-owned) land holdings.
The US embargo against Cuba is an economic, commercial, and financial embargo imposed on Cuba on February 7, 1962. The embargo was enacted after Cuba expropriated the properties of United States rich citizens and corporations.
In 1999, US President Bill Clinton expanded the trade embargo even further by ending the practice of foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies trading with Cuba totaling more than US$700 million a year.
At present, the embargo, which limits American businesses from conducting business with Cuban interests, is still in effect, making it one of the few times in history that United States citizens have been restricted from doing business abroad, and is the most enduring trade embargo in modern history. Despite the existence of the embargo, the United States is the seventh largest exporter to Cuba (4.3% of Cuba’s imports are from the US).
In November 2001, US companies began selling food to the country for the first time since Washington imposed the trade embargo after the revolution. In 2002, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter became the first former or sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba since 1928
Following his 2004 reelection, George W. Bush declared Cuba to be one of the few “outposts of tyranny” remaining in the world. Tensions heightened as the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, John R. Bolton, accused Cuba of maintaining a biological weapons program
Bolton identified the Castro government as part of America’s “axis of evil,” highlighting the fact that the Cuban leader visited several US foes, including Libya, Iran and Syria. Cuba was also identified as a State Sponsor of Terrorism by the United States Department of State. The Cuban government denies the claim, and in turn has accused the U.S. of engaging in state sponsored terrorism against Cuba.
The Cuban government denies the claim, and in turn has accused the U.S. of engaging in state sponsored terrorism against Cuba
On September 8, 2006, it was revealed that at least ten South Florida journalists received regular payments from the US government for organized media programs
In April 2009 US President Barack Obama began implementing a less strict policy towards Cuba. The U.S. president had stated that he is open to dialogue with Cuba, but that he would only lift the trade embargo if Cuba has political change. In March 2009, Obama signed into law a Congressional spending bill which eased some economic sanctions on Cuba and eased travel restrictions on Cuban Americans.
At the 2009 5th Summit of the Americas, President Obama signaled the opening of a new beginning with Cuba. On 27 July 2012, Raúl Castro said that the Cuban government is willing to hold talks with the United States government to “discuss anything”. On December 10 2013, in an unprecedented move at a state memorial service for Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama and Raul Castro shook hands.
Cuba goes Kremlin
The Cuban Revolution which propelled Fidel Castro to power on January 1, 1959, initially attracted little attention in Moscow. Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev asked his advisers to consult Cuba’s Communists who reported that Castro was a representative of the “haute bourgeoisie” and working for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. In February 1960 Khrushchev sent his deputy Anastas Mikoyan to Cuba to discover motivations of Castro against USA and Mikoyan returned from Cuba with the opinion that Castro’s new administration should be helped economically and politically. ‘
Washington’s increasing economic embargo led Cuba to hurriedly seek new markets to avert economic disaster. Castro asked for help from the Soviets and in response Khrushchev approved the temporary purchase of Cuban sugar in exchange for Soviet fuel. This deal was to play a part in sustaining the Cuban economy for many years to come. The defense of Cuba became a matter of prestige for the Soviet Union, and Khruschev believed that the U.S. would block all access to the island whether by sea or air.
Khrushchev agreed on a deployment plan in May 1962 chiefly in response to NATO positioning their nuclear missiles in Turkey in 1958, and by late July over sixty Soviet ships were in route to Cuba, some of them already carrying military material.
In a televised address on October 22, U.S. President John F. Kennedy announced the discovery of the installations and proclaimed that any nuclear missile attack from Cuba would be regarded as an attack by the Soviet Union and would be responded to accordingly. Khrushchev sent letters to Kennedy on October 23 and 24 claiming the deterrent nature of the missiles in Cuba and the peaceful intentions of the Soviet Union. On October 26, the Soviets offered to withdraw the missiles in return for a U.S. guarantee not to invade Cuba or support any invasion and to remove all missiles set in southern Italy and in Turkey. This deal was accepted and the crisis abated.
Castro was not consulted throughout the Kennedy-Khrushchev negotiations and the unilateral Soviet withdrawal of the missiles and bombers wounded Castro’s pride and prestige.
The missile crisis had a significant impact on the countries involved. While it led to a thaw in US-Soviet relations, it significantly strained Cuban-Soviet relations.
With Cuba’s proximity to the United States, Castro and his regime became an important Cold War ally for the Soviets. The relationship was for the most part an economic one, with the Soviet Union providing military, economic and political assistance to Cuba. After the establishment of diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union after the Cuban revolution of 1959, Cuba became increasingly dependent on Soviet markets and military aid becoming an ally of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Moscow kept in regular contact with Havana, sharing varying close relations until the collapse of the bloc in 1991. After the demise of the Soviet Union, Cuba entered an era of economic hardship.
A US arms embargo had been in force since March 1958 when armed conflict broke out in Cuba between rebels and the Batista government. In July 1960, in response to the expropriations by the Cuban government, the United States reduced the Cuban import quota of sugar by 7,000,000 tons; the Soviet Union responded by agreeing to purchase the sugar instead, and Cuba took further actions to take over American businesses. In response to Cuba’s alignment with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, President John F. Kennedy extended measures
Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy imposed travel restrictions on February 8, 1963, and the Cuban Assets Control Regulations were issued on July 8, 1963, under the Trading with the Enemy Act in response to Cubans hosting Soviet nuclear weapons, which led to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Under these restrictions, Cuban assets in the U.S. were frozen and the existing restrictions were consolidated.
When Gorbachev came to power in March 1985, Cuba remained an important Cold War propaganda tool for the Soviet Union. Economic investment and trade in Cuba was at its highest; in 1985 trade between the two nations accounted for over 70 percent of Cuba’s entire trade. The two nations continued to collaborate on projects in the sciences, technology, sports, and education. However, throughout the Gorbachev era diplomatic relations cooled until the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1991 and the termination of Soviet-Cuban relations.
Heightened tensions best characterize diplomatic relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union throughout the Gorbachev era. The introduction of Gorbachev’s reforms of perestroika, glasnost, and his “new thinking” on foreign policy set off an economic crisis in the Soviet Union, opened up the Soviets and their allies to increasing internal criticism from dissidents, and sparked an ideological conflict with Fidel Castro’s regime.
The collapse of Soviet Union and end of socialism in Europe resulted in the end of Cuban-Soviet relations and great isolation and economic hardship in Cuba.
Whether or not Americans would trust the Cubans or take their words seriously is the moot question now to expect any drastic changes in US-Cuban relations. .
د. عبد راف
–BY DR. ABDUL RUFF COLACHAL has been an educationist, Columnist-Commentator on world affairs Expert on Mideast Affairs, Chronicler of Foreign occupations & Freedom movements (Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc.) Chancellor-Founder of Centor for International Affairs(CIA); Former university Teacher; Editor:INTERNATIONAL OPINION; FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES; Author of books;website: http://abdulruff.wordpress.com/ mail: email@example.com/Phone: 91-8129081217—(Account: No 62310377429 – CIF No: 78215311481- State Bank of Hyderabad, India)
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