[Marxism] Will Obama ease US policy toward Cuba?
walterlx at earthlink.net
Thu Dec 18 18:09:40 MST 2008
Ordinary people here in Cuba were delighted with Obama´s
election. The official position of the Cuban government
is a very well-considered cautioning that people here
should not get their hopes up, given the innumerable
constraints which operate on someone who holds such a
position as that of President of the United States.
Senator Obama, and candidate Obama, made it clear he
would keep what he called the embargo when he spoke
at the Cuban American National Foundation in May of
this year. He also said that he would eliminate the
restrictions on Cuban-American travel and on the
sending of remittances. While it remains to be seen
if Obama, once in office, will carry out his pledge.
In my opinion, there is and was no reason not to take
Obama at his word on these modest, progressive steps.
I personally believe that he will do that, and for a
range of reasons, none of which involve a sympathetic
attitude toward the Cuban Revolution. However, these
would be progressive steps, whatever the motivation.
>From my vantage point here in Havana, the most hopeful
sign for US-Cuban relations was the nomination of Bill
Richardson to serve as Secretary of Commerce. He will
NOT be anything like Carlos Gutierrez is now. First,
he´s not a rightist Cuban exile politically. Second,
he has been to Cuba before and speaks fluent Spanish.
Third, as someone with his eye to his own future, as
a prospective candidate to become the first LATINO
president, it could not do Richardson any harm to be
helpful to US business interests who are anxious to
see expanded opportunities with Cuba.
Given the economic crisis which is unfolding in the
United States and the capitalist world, anything to
help expand and improve possibilities for US business
could only help someone who was part of trying to turn
tne situation for the United States around.
Will Obama ease US policy toward Cuba?
A new approach could represent a relatively easy first step down a generally more controversial path of engaging with America's adversaries.
By Howard LaFranchi | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the December 15, 2008 edition
Washington - A desire by President-elect Obama to enter the White House signaling change in US foreign policy may well lead to quick – though perhaps modest – action on Cuba.
When he assumes office, Mr. Obama will be largely focused on addressing the worst economic dive in generations. But in that context there are several reasons a shift toward Cuba – a thorn in the side of the last nine presidents – could begin early next year:
•Obama could take a number of steps, such as easing contacts between Cuban-Americans and their families on the island, by executive action – thus signaling a shift from Bush policies without dedicating a lot of effort to it.
•The November elections and recent polls reveal a Cuban-American community more disposed to opening up channels to the communist island, even though the Castro brothers continue to govern it – meaning the political capital spent on a shift would be negligible.
•Moving on Cuba would give Obama something of a "twofer," signaling to the rest of Latin America the advent of a different policy toward the hemisphere.
•Making Cuba a test case of a new willingness to engage with US adversaries could be a relatively easy first step down a generally more controversial path.
Cuba presents Obama with "low-hanging fruit," easily picked, to suggest "a new foreign-policy direction," says Anya Landau French, a senior fellow at the Lexington Institute, a free-market-oriented think tank in Washington. Steps as basic as increasing antinarcotics cooperation, she says, offer "a way to break from Bush policy without a great effort."
None of this means the 48-year-old US embargo of Cuba will quickly go by the boards. Despite the longstanding view of many Cuba experts and a majority of Latin American leaders that the embargo hasn't worked – a view Obama himself held before his run for the presidency – the president-elect now says the embargo is "an important inducement to change" that he would lift once "freedom and justice" arrive on the island.
What Obama is likely to do is ease restrictions on travel to Cuba by Cuban-Americans and on the flow of remittances from Cuban-Americans across the Straits of Florida. Both moves would revert to openings pursued by the Clinton administration that President Bush reversed.
During the campaign, Susan Rice, Obama's chief foreign-policy adviser (and now tapped by him to become US ambassador to the United Nations), said Obama would maintain the embargo "as leverage to use as we work to negotiate with the Cuban government." She called lifting the general ban on trade and formal diplomatic ties "the ultimate step."
Some political observers considered Obama's shift in stance on the embargo a bow to the anti-Castro Cuban-American community. But some recent polls suggest that the majority of Cuban-Americans – and especially the younger set – no longer support the embargo.
Over half (55 percent) of Cuban-Americans support ending the embargo, according to a poll conducted by Florida International University's Institute for Public Opinion Research shortly after Election Day. The poll found lowest support for the embargo among Cubans who came to the United States most recently.
Another focal point of support for change in US Cuba policy is the business community. "Cuba presents an easy opportunity for Obama to demonstrate that change is coming to American foreign policy," says Jake Colvin, vice president for global trade issues at the National Foreign Trade Council in Washington.
Speaking at a recent Inter-American Dialogue forum in Washington, he said that suspending restrictions to allow US business to sell machinery to Cuba and rescinding a "cash in advance" rule on agricultural sales to Cuba are "innovative" steps that Obama could take.
US business would also like to see any lifting of the travel ban to Cuba include all Americans. But even change on that order would be less than some Cuba watchers might have expected at one time from Obama. "We're going to see some changes at the margins, but less dramatic than we would expect," says Damian Fernandez, provost of Purchase College, State University of New York, who is also a Cuba expert. New under Obama will be a "tendency towards engagement" – although "engagement has its limits," he adds.
The underlying challenge to Obama's new diplomatic approach, Mr. Fernandez says, will be: "Are we willing to accept a Cuban regime that is not very good to its own people?"
Find this article at:
"Cuba - Un Paraíso bajo el bloqueo"
More information about the Marxism