Thursday, September 29, 2016

US and Cuba, finally ice is melting

Kerry at U.S. Embassy’s Flag-Raising Ceremony in Cuba
Recently I watched Godfather I and II (again). In second part, there was a scene where Michael Corleone said, soldiers are paid to fight but rebels are not; and there is a chance that they will win. Following sequence of events proved him right. Rebels took over and protagonists escaped to US.

Actual take over happened on 1959 January, when rebel forces led by Fidel Castro finally able to oust Batista. This event led to rupture of ties between Cuba and US. Later incidents like, Bay of Pigs, Cuban missile crisis of 1962, Cold war, Suspension of Cuba from Organization of American States (OAS), trade sanctions, Cuban support of MPLA in Angola etc only made it worse. Cuban missile crisis almost took the world to third (and probably last) world war. Last because there may not be enough people left to fight fourth world war. 

Cold war didn’t finish in this part of the world even after the breakup of USSR. However, a lot of this changed for Cuba. She lost her major benefactor – USSR and Rubles. Later Cuba found some solace in neighboring Venezuela and her leader Hugo Chavez. Like Castro, Chavez was also against US and Market economy. However, mismanagement of Petroleum reserves and fall of oil price in global market crushed Venezuela.

Cuba also witnessed an administrative change - leadership changed from fiercely anti American (but aging) Fidel to his brother Raul Castro. In US also Obama - who received Nobel Prize for Peace before he actually did something - tried to restore relations with Cuba. He may already considering this as his legacy and probably want to make complete reset before he leaves office.

Last year, US re-established their embassy in Cuba and also received credentials from José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez (first Cuban ambassador to US since 1961). 

Now Obama selected Jeffrey DeLaurentis (served as chief of mission for US in Havana since 2014) as new Ambassador. This is indeed a good move to normalize relations between two countries. 

Obama administration is also trying hard to relax restrictions on trade and travel to Cuba.

However, an effective progress also requires the lifting of trade embargo which requires help from Congress. Without this, there are limitations to improvements Obama can make. Will Congress rise to the occasion and repeal the ban before Obama leave office? Will the new government continue the polices of rapprochement? Will Raul government go ahead with administrative, economic and political reforms? Let's wait and watch. 

Whatever it may be relationship between two nations is certainly going to improve and I believe Obama will be able to leave office with some justification for the Nobel Peace prize. 


Photo Courtesy: US Embassy Website

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