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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Cuba’s Relations With The U.S.

President Obama is currently in Cuba marking the  first visit of a sitting U.S. President after almost 90 years. Pres. Coolidge visited the country in 1928 to attend the Pan-American Conference.
cuba obama-castro                            Pres. Obama and Raul Castro
After decades of being cold-war-era enemies, the U.S. government is finally on the road to a normalization of their relationship with Cuba.
cuba -havana
There is little doubt that the U.S. was not too  concerned with human rights on Cuba, but rather been obsessed with Cuba’s move to a communist-style government and a possible Russian military presence.
There was also fear that communism would spread to other Latin-American countries.

Almost two years after the Batista regime was deposed by the Cuban Revolution the United States imposed an embargo on Cuba on October 19, 1960 The embargo pertained to all U.S. exports to Cuba except for food and medicine after Cuba nationalized American-owned Cuban oil refineries without compensation. Cuba nationalized the refineries following Eisenhower's decision to cancel 700,000 tons of sugar imports from Cuba to the U.S. and refused to export oil to the island, leaving it reliant on Russian crude oil. On February 7, 1962 the embargo was extended to include almost all imports. The stated purpose of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 is to maintain sanctions on Cuba so long as the Cuban government refuses to move toward
"democratization and greater respect for human rights". The Helms–Burton Act further restricted United States citizens from doing business in or with Cuba, and mandated restrictions on giving public or private assistance to any successor government in Havana unless and until certain claims against the Cuban government were met. In 1999, President Bill Clinton expanded the trade embargo by also disallowing foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies to trade with Cuba. In 2000, Clinton authorized the sale of "humanitarian" U.S. products to Cuba.

The political anxiety of the U.S. to be a direct neighbour of a communist country and the following embargo only reinforced Cuba’s dependency on big brother Soviet Union, which was more than happy to provide the Cuban Regime with goods and services until the day of the Soviet Union’s fall in 1991 led to great sufferings and materiel shortages on Cuba.
cuba map
The UN General Assembly has, since 1992, passed a resolution every year condemning the ongoing impact of the embargo and declaring it to be in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and international law.

What was achieved through the 5-decade-long blockade?
The Center for International Policy believes that the embargo against Cuba is a cruel and irrational policy that works against the goals it professes to achieve. Isolating Cuba only strengthens the Castroite position on the island; the U.S. will only bring an end to authoritarian rule in Cuba through a measure of political and economic engagement.

There is no doubt that the people of Cuba have been suffering through the period of U.S. imposed embargo. Instead of helping the Cuban people through an improvement of their human rights the embargo has led to continued and even increased sufferings for the Cuba population. At the same time United States businesses have been cut off from conducting business on Cuba thus losing out on billions of revenue and profits, while other countries like Russia and Germany have been able to trade with Cuba.

Private travel to Cuba has been prohibited for US-citizens while the embargo has been in place.

Internationally, it is highly unusual for a country like the U.S., which prides itself to be “The Land of the Free” to implement travel restrictions thus limiting the free movement of its own citizens.

Let’s hope that President Obama’s visit will lead to a thaw-out of the frosty relations between the 2 countries.

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