Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Two superpowers

Sometime this year we may resolve the debate about allowing Cuban Americans to visit their relatives freely, or to send them money freely, and our Presidential candidates will debate whether some kind of diplomacy with Cuba might make sense. And soon the Administration will issue regulations to refine again the list of items Cuban Americans may send to relatives in gift packages. In 2004, President Bush determined that no more clothing, personal hygiene items, seeds, fishing equipment, soap-making equipment, and veterinary medicine and supplies would be allowed in those packages, while food, medicine, medical supplies and equipment; and receive-only radio equipment would be allowed. Now he will add cell phones to the list of permissible items.

Brazil, meanwhile, is up to something different.

If anyone doubts that Cuba is a priority in Brazil’s diplomacy, look at last week’s visit to Cuba by Celso Amorim, Brazil’s foreign minister.

Following up on the January visit of President Lula da Silva, Amorim’s agenda mixed political support and substantial economic assistance. He was accompanied by a delegation of businessmen.

Brazil wants to be Cuba’s “number one economic partner” and to participate in the modernization of the Cuban economy, Amorim said. He believes Cuba “will be a kind of Asian tiger of Latin America, we can compare it with Vietnam.”

The visit featured an announcement that Brazil will provide technical assistance and seed for an industrial-scale soy project, initially 30,000 to 40,000 hectares in size. Agreements to form joint ventures to grow soy are possible, Amorim said.

Amorim also said he expects agreement within “two or three weeks” on a $600 million, four-year credit package for industrial and agricultural equipment and highway construction.

Amorim met Raul Castro and he extended an invitation from his President for Raul to visit Brazil.

Finally, Amorim was quoted in the Cuban media saying that Brazil and Cuba “share many visions, especially regarding the integration of Latin American and Caribbean nations, a difficult process hindered by cultural resistance of people who are not used to seeing the region united.”

I wonder who he had in mind.

More coverage of Amorim’s visit from EFE here, from ANSA here.


Antony said...

I think this is very smart on the part of Cuba, I read somewhere. Great idea to spread your risk around instead of depending on one partner like Cuba did in the past.

Anonymous said...

America, let me visit my mother in habana, ya!!

theCardinal said...

There are plenty of reasons to change our policy in respect to Cuba, falling behind Brazil or any other country is not one of them.

Just because the embargo is the wrong way to go does not mean that kowtowing to Raul is the proper course - there has to be a middle way. Ultimately our policy should be to pursue our best interests and our interests are a stable Cuba that is open to reform and increasingly utilizes democratic mechanisms to gauge the will of the people. Otherwise, sooner or later, the place will explode for one reason or another.

Hey anonymous! I've said it once, I've said it a million times. If you miss mami so much then go there and stay there. There is nothing stopping you. You got a free pass to stay here while millions of Mex, Haitians, Asians risk all and leave all to make a life here. So put up or shut up. Stop your whining.

Ernesto said...

Superpowers? Check this quote from Kaplan's article in Slate, today:

"No matter who is elected this November, the next president will have to take extraordinary steps to translate this global reach into power and influence—to restore American leadership. One of the main challenges in this effort will be to prove to others that this leadership is desirable.

The new reality is that to a degree we haven't seen in our lifetimes, the United States is a normal country—a very powerful country, but normal nonetheless: not a superpower. A presidential visit, in this light, is not such a big deal. Or, to the extent that some countries might still regard it as a visitation from on high, it may be just the jolt to get things moving."