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US-Cuba Rapprochement
What to Make of Cuban Intransigence

As the Obama Administration celebrates its milestone agreement with the Castros to open a U.S. embassy in Havana, it is important to remember the magnitude of the obstacles that remain before relations between the two countries are fully normalized. Consider the statement put out yesterday by the Cuban government:

In order to normalize relations, it will … be indispensable for the United States Government to return to Cuba the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base; cease the radio and television broadcasts, which violate international regulations and are harmful to our sovereignty; stop the implementation of programs aimed at promoting internal subversion and destabilization and compensate the Cuban people for all the human and economic damages caused by the United States policies.

These radical demands are not new—the Castros released a nearly identical list of asks in January—but they are nonetheless a reminder that, despite the recent moves toward a rapprochement , the Cubans still want to keep the U.S. at arms-length. As Walter Russell Mead wrote last December, a full economic opening of Cuba could be devastating to the regime’s command-and-control economy. It is in the the Castros’ interest for relations between the U.S. and Cuba to normalize slowly, rather than all at once.

One interpretation is that the Castros are deliberately making outsized demands in order to make sure the normalization process does not proceed too quickly, in the interest of self-preservation. The opening of the embassy—far from the triumph that some of the President’s supporters crowed about— is just the beginning of what is sure to be a drawn-out diplomatic dance between the U.S. and its former Cold War adversary in the Caribbean.

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  • Fat_Man

    As long as the Fair Play for Cuba Committee is in charge at the State Department and the White House, this non-sense will continue. It is we who should be telling Cuba what to do, i.e. restore liberty, civil rights, and democracy. Empty out the prisons, Allow the exiles to come home and reclaim their property. And, these requirements should not be the starting point of a negotiation, it should be the starting point of a new Monroe Doctrine.

  • lurkingwithintent

    That would be one way to close Gitmo and then the Castros would release those who are prisoners there. The president would get what he promised and Cuba’s leaders could get the blame/credit.

  • Clayton Holbrook

    A drawn-out diplomatic dance that should’ve probably started at least 20 years ago.

  • dawnsblood

    The President has decided that the Cuban slave state has been punished enough. Enriching the Cuban Communist Party seems to be his idea of a ‘legacy’. It will happen on Cuba’s terms and will enrich their elites just like when the Europeans and the Canadians came a calling. Same policy, new sucker . . .

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