Cuba announced that it is placing strong conditions on the restoration of diplomatic relations with the United States. Before doing so, the island’s government hopes that, among other things, the United States will: first, give back Guantanamo Bay; second, lift the trade embargo that is still in place; and third, repay Cuba for the damages caused by the embargo that was in place for many years with hundreds of millions of dollars in purported compensation, without mentioning a word about the compensation entitlements corresponding to the Cuban confiscation of properties belonging to U.S. companies and citizens.
This, in return for reconciliation. For Raul Castro, without these three conditions becoming a reality, the normalization of relations with North America simply “does not make sense.”
It seems clear, at least for now, that Cuba won’t have too much difficulty in stipulating the normalization of relations announced by the governments of both countries on Dec. 17 of last year. But the truth is that we have yet to see just how rigid the apparent conditioning effectively is, because if Venezuela’s poor economic situation suddenly becomes complicated and its important subsidies to the island’s government are reduced, it is possible that these conditions could be relaxed.
Made after several bilateral meetings between Cuba and the United States, the announcement – which aimed to agree to the normalization process – is currently leading to a good dose of skepticism in relation to Cuba’s goodwill about progressing this issue. It suggests that, either way, the road ahead will not be traveled quickly but rather in slow steps.
The aforementioned conditions, which Cuba has just made known at the recent meeting of CELAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean), are – according to the facts, if the United States decides that they are willing to accept them – likely to be impossible to meet, at least in the short term. Among other things, the shameful Guantanamo prison is still unable to be closed.
Otherwise, the list of conditions is not confined to the three mentioned above; it is long and ambitious.
It also requires that the United States cease to broadcast radio and/or television programs that contain critical content regarding what takes place on the island, which is still governed by a regime that is not democratic and does not respect either the human rights or the civil liberties of its own people.
This is a typical requirement of those who do not believe in freedom of expression or freedom of the press. It is also a requirement without compensation of any kind. It should be added that Cuba also demands to be immediately excluded from America’s list of those countries that export terrorism, which means – among other things – that Cuba no longer supports terrorism operating in Colombia.
At the regional meeting, despite the Cuban announcements outlined above, the president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, congratulated the leaders of Cuba and the United States for their efforts with regard to the normalization of relations, which, she said, will not only be helpful for Cubans and Americans, “but also for the whole continent.” If they are successful, that is.
So that is how things stand today. An embargo that did not previously make any sense is now on track to be removed. Step by step. Everything can certainly change depending on the circumstances, but the road to normalization for the two nations will be arduous and by no means simple. Rather, it seems it will be slow.
Leaving behind more than half a century of disagreements is no simple task. But there is nothing worse than not trying at all.
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