Obama announces 'new chapter' in US-Cuba ties US President Barack Obama said Wednesday a .new chapter. had been opened in Washington's ties with Cuba, saying it was time to end an .outdated ...
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President Obama announcing renewed diplomatic relations with Cuba
By now, most people are aware the US and Cuba re-established diplomatic relations for the first time in 53 years as of yesterday.
The rapprochement came about after 18 months of secret negotiations and completed with a simple phone call between President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro that officially ended the diplomatic enmity. The US will soon establish an embassy in Havana.
However, renewing diplomatic relations does not end the US embargo of Cuba which remains in place and requires an act of Congress for it to be lifted.
So call the renewed diplomatic relations a policy change in the right direction, but lifting the embargo is a whole lot bigger stumbling block to overcome.
Republicans are about to control both houses of Congress come January and seemingly as soon as Obama got off the phone with Castro and went on the airwaves to announce the move, House and Senate Republicans including House Speaker John Boehner, incoming Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Ted Cruz and Rep. Marco Rubio R-Fla. all weighed in condemning the new diplomatic relations as a "very bad deal". Even Democrat Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a Cuban American said, "It is a fallacy that Cuba will reform just because the American president believes that if he extends his hand in peace, that the Castro brothers suddenly unclench their fists."
Thus the hurdle to lift the embargo cuts across party lines and some Democrats will undoubtedly line up with the Republican majority and oppose ending it.
What's interesting is the Chamber of Commerce and major agricultural interests in the US supported Obama's diplomatic move so business interests are obviously salivating at the chance of exploiting the huge untapped market in Cuba.
But even Castro put it this way in his television address to the Cuban people, "This" diplomatic initiative with US "in no way means the heart of the matter has been resolved. The economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes enormous human and economic damages to our country, must cease."
Think about it; it is absurd Cuba has been dubbed a pariah state by the US for over half a century.
Fidel Castro was Cuban nationalist before he was a Communist and that out of necessity to receive economic aid from the Soviet Union. When the USSR ceased to exist in 1991 Castro's main economic benefactor went with the Soviet demise. When Soviet Communism ceased to be the enemy of the US, Cuba too should have ceased being a pariah state. But anti Castro politics remained stuck in the cold war, until yesterday. Yet looking at Cuba/US non relations these many years the heart of it was Castro defying US hegemony and thumbing his nose at the colossus to the north which was the key ingredient making him totally unacceptable to official Washington starting with President Eisenhower in 1961.
And despite numerous attempts to assassinate him and the CIA initiating the "Bay of Pigs" invasion fiasco in 1961, Cuba under Castro has withstood the economic hardships, gone its independent way and survived the enmity of 11 US presidents until Obama ended the deep freeze with Wednesday's announcement.
Let's face it, he faces no re-election and is in legacy mode so initiating a thaw with Cuba makes him look like a statesman.
Then again, he's about to sign a bill passed overwhelmingly by both Houses of Congress that is all but a declaration of war with Russia.
So much for him being a statesman.