After nearly a half century of being enemies, Cuba and the United States are poised to normalize relations with one another. Both nations intend to open their respective embassies in April, much earlier than expected. It’s something that should have happened long ago, but the impact the change will have on Cuba is difficult to predict.
Up to the present, the mere existence of a socialist Cuba had been evidence of a failure of U.S. policy. CIA conspiracies, sabotage and years of economic embargo weren’t enough to bring the nation to its knees. Instead, Cuba supported liberation movements in Central and South America as well as in Africa. Not even the collapse of the Soviet Union, its guardian angel, led to its predicted demise.
But it’s also ironically true that Cuba is losing the best enemy it ever had; one that enabled it to justify its authoritarian structures. The looming invasion of American economic interests, the approaching freedom of movement and open exchange of information begs the contemporary question: What’s left of socialism? The bottom line is that the old boys in Havana will have no option other than to trust their own people.
The negotiations leading toward normalizing relations are running so smoothly that it won’t be long until the end of the Cuban-American ice age, which could possibly end simultaneously with the summit meeting of South, Central and North American heads of state scheduled for mid-April. President Obama and Cuba’s Raul Castro will be there.
Last December, both expressed a desire for the normalization of relations between their two countries. Obama admitted that the economic trade embargo, as an effective tool, hadn’t been successful. It was an admission that was so reality-based that it should have been long-anticipated from a White House so steeped in realpolitik.
Obama’s Republican opponents already miss confronting their enemy just 90 miles from America’s coast. They warn against a relaxation of tensions, but the anti-Castro lobby is shaky, and the sons and daughters of those who fled Cuba over the years are becoming increasingly disinterested in yesterday’s squabbles.
It was all so much simpler during the Cold War. But also so much worse.
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