In the face of the Cuban cosmetic change, Obama will use spring summit to bring Cuba in from the cold

At the Guardian, Obama will use spring summit to bring Cuba in from the cold

US companies are queuing up as the president moves to ease restrictions on travel and trade, raising hopes of warmer relations and an end to the embargo

President Barack Obama is poised to offer an olive branch to Cuba in an effort to repair the US’s tattered reputation in Latin America.

The White House has moved to ease some travel and trade restrictions as a cautious first step towards better ties with Havana, raising hopes of an eventual lifting of the four-decade-old economic embargo. Several Bush-era controls are expected to be relaxed in the run-up to next month’s Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago to gild the president’s regional debut and signal a new era of “Yankee” cooperation.

The administration has moved to ease draconian travel controls and lift limits on cash remittances that Cuban-Americans can send to the island, a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of families.

This comes as no surprise. Readers of my blog know it’s been in the works, including Republican Senator Richard Lugar’s recommendations. When I wrote about the Lugar report two weeks ago, I pointed out

The report does not specify what actions would represent “sequenced engagement”, which could be interpreted to mean a give-and-take where the U.S. makes concessions dependent on Cuba’s loosening its stranglehold on the people, or simply having the U.S. make an escalated series of concessions with nothing in return.

It now appears that the administration is starting with

The legislation would allow Americans with immediate family in Cuba to visit annually, instead of once every three years, and broaden the definition of immediate family. It would also drop a requirement that Havana pay cash in advance for US food imports.

These items are in the $410bn spending bill due to be voted on this week, which should not be confused with the bailout bill, the stimulus bill, or the budget.

So while we’re in the middle of a deep recession we are going to be extending credit to a country that is in arrears with the rest of the world to the tune of $30+ billion; even the Lugar report recognizes that

“popular dissatisfaction with Cuba’s economic situation is the regime’s vulnerability.”

Granting credit to a failed regime allows it to continue in power.

The American companies that are “lining up to do business” in Cuba won’t get paid, or might even get their assets nationalized if they’re stupid enough to invest in the country, so the Obama administration will end up granting them some kind of bailout. Unless, of course, the deal is being sweetened ahead of time.

Nice of the US to allow Americans with immediate family in Cuba to visit annually, instead of once every three years. I don’t hear that Cuba is allowing anyone to travel freely, not even foreigners visiting the country.

CUBA
In the past few days there has been a lot of buzz in the foreign media about Raul Castro’s recent housecleaning. Make no mistake: it’s a purely cosmetic change. Not coincidentally, Fidel Castro supposedly is back to walking in Havana, which signals to the average Pepe on the street that the embodiment of the Revolución is still alive, that they must continue to sacrifice and struggle, and that the Castro era continues.

Go read my post at Real Clear World. And please, don’t fool yourselves believing that any easing of US policy without a corresponding, in-kind gesture from the Cuban Communist regime, is going to matter much, aside from signaling weakness to our enemies.

UPDATE. Tuesday 10 March:
Pepe Ramallo:

But here’s the perverse part. The U.S. businesses aren’t the ones that end up getting subsidized. They’ll provide goods and services in exchange for the money the federal government will end up paying. It’s the regime that will make out like a bandit because U.S. taxpayer dollars will pay for castro, inc’s shopping spree.

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One Response to “In the face of the Cuban cosmetic change, Obama will use spring summit to bring Cuba in from the cold”

  1. Kt D Says:

    This is an interesting scenario since talk of removing this embargo has been going on for decades. If the President is truly going to attempt better relations with Cuba and Raul Castro, it is vital for him to see all sides of this issue. Potentially helping out Cuban families–as well as Cuban-American ones–is worth the efforts, in my opinion. Still, it will take significant consideration on the U.S.’s part. I watched an interesting video on all of this earlier today at newsy.com. It basically summarizes the whole ordeal and gives different opinions:

    http://www.newsy.com/videos/rethinking_u_s_cuba_trade/