Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cuba on Obama: “positive,” but “extremely limited”

That’s the verdict of Cuba’s foreign minister, Bruno Rodriguez, on the Obama Administration’s approach to Cuba so far, delivered last week at the UN General Assembly.

If you’re keeping track of the diplomatic contacts between Cuba and the United States, the minister’s speech (in English here, pdf) is a good summary for the record of Cuba’s worldview and its approach to the new U.S. Administration. After listing steps President Obama could take to ease U.S. sanctions using his own authority, Rodriguez outlines a “set of essential topics” for discussion that his government has suggested to the United States. In effect, it amounts to the Cuban government’s agenda for normalization:

  • ending all U.S. economic sanctions;

  • providing compensation for damages caused by the embargo;

  • ending the designation of Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism;”

  • “the abolition of the Cuban Adjustment Act and the ‘wet foot/dry foot’ policy;”

  • returning the Guantanamo naval base;

  • ending Radio and TV Marti;

  • the “cessation of the funding of domestic subversion;” and

  • the release of the “Cuban Five.”

In addition to discussions already started on migration and postal service, Rodriguez says Cuba seeks talks “to establish cooperation to fight drug trafficking, terrorism and human smuggling, to protect the environment and cope with natural disasters.”

This is a pretty far-reaching agenda, and much of it is surely out of reach in any foreseeable political scenario in the United States. Surely the Cuban government judges that some of President Obama’s agenda items are out of the ballpark too.

So the chances of full engagement on each side’s full agenda are about zero. But what would seem to count in the coming months is not whether the two sides will tackle the hardest issues, but whether they will find common ground on the easier ones, and find ways to go on from there.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

None of the Cuban government's demands are show-stoppers or diminish US national security as long as they are accompanied with concurrent agreement to US government conditions. This list could be the basis for serious negotiations resulting in significant changes in the relations between Cuba and the USA, and the Cuban government and the Cuban people.

Vecino de NF

pOpEyE said...

Cuban Government doesn't want ANY normalization. Be sure of that. To be "victims of the Empire" that's the cornerstone of Fidel's policy.
So, the smartest action would be just to give them exactly what they don't want.