August 19th, 2014
11:31 AM ET

U.S. living in the past over Cuba

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By Global Public Square staff

Remember last December when President Barack Obama shook hands with Cuban President Raúl Castro at Nelson Mandela's memorial service, and got a lot of criticism for it? In truth it didn't signal any sort of a real rapprochement between the United States and Cuba. The Cuban rapprochement of note is a different one – with Vladimir Putin, who recently made the long trip to Havana.

While there, Putin forgave about $32 billion worth of debt that Cuba had accrued from the former Soviet Union decades ago and that Russia had inherited – that's 90 percent of Cuba's outstanding debt to Moscow.

In addition, Russian officials recently confirmed that Cuba has also provisionally agreed to reopen a spy post. This eavesdropping facility, 150 miles off the coast of Florida, allowed Russia to spy on the United States until it closed in 2001. (Putin denied claims that he's reopening the listening post in Cuba, but many experts doubt his denial).

What in the world is going on?

Remember that when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Havana lost billions in aid and subsidies from Moscow. The Cuban economy plunged, contracting by about a third.

Then Cuba found another oil-rich regime to prop it up: Venezuela. Trade with Venezuela accounted for about 20 percent of Cuba's GDP in 2012. But plunging oil production and political instability in Venezuela means that Cuba needs to build new ties.

Enter Vladimir Putin, who is in his latest incarnation trying to show the world that he doesn't need the West and that Russia can forge its own global ties. The Moscow-Havana alliance is a sad setback because Cuba was actually on the road to reform. Since Raúl Castro replaced his brother Fidel as president in 2008, he'd begun a series of changes that point to liberalization.

In the past three years, parts of the economy were transferred from the state to the private sector, as Cuba slowly edged toward capitalism. For the first time in 50 years, Cubans were allowed to openly buy and sell homes and to set up restaurants. They could even purchase modern, foreign cars! Farmers can now work on land that is not state-owned. Cuba seemed to also be gaining traction in other areas. Remittances and travel have increased. Cuba had even renewed stalled relations with the European Union.

These are all positive steps, even if many of the reforms have been half-hearted and tepid. Of course, Raúl Castro is trying to do what so many autocrats do – reform fast enough to fix the sluggish economy, but slow enough for the Communist Party to maintain control of it.

Well now, Cuba's transition to openness may have suffered a major setback given the news of its renewed alliance with Russia. But the United States is guilty as well – of empowering the Stalinists within Cuba's government, who are making the road to capitalism hard and slow.

What is Washington doing? Maintaining its highly ineffective and outdated 50-year embargo against Cuba.

Every year for the past 22 years, the United Nations has demanded an end to the blockade, but to no avail. The embargo and exclusion from institutions like the World Bank have isolated Cuba from America and its influences and instead allowed countries like China – Cuba's second largest trading partner – and now Russia to make deals with Havana.

It’s not just Putin who's living in the Cold War past. It's Washington as well.

 

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Topics: Cuba • What in the World?

soundoff (93 Responses)
  1. Linda F. (Canada)

    Please read;
    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/9311876/ns/us_news-katrina_the_long_road_back/t/katrina-aid-cuba-no-thanks-says-us/#.U_YU2md0yUl

    When an act of generosity was offered to the United States during a time of crisis, the offer was declined and American Citizens suffered needlessly.

    August 21, 2014 at 11:51 am | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      This goes to show just little the lives of average Americans mean to the right-wing thugs in Washington. These corrupt people will stop at nothing to achieve their evil agenda! This makes me sick!

      August 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm | Reply
  2. chri§§y

    What act of generosity are you talking about @ #U_YU2md0yUl?

    August 21, 2014 at 11:59 am | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy

      The offer the Cubans made to Washington, chrissy. Unfortunately, the right-wing thugs in Washington put their evil agenda ahead of the needs of the average American. Please chrissy, kindly quit taking up for the right-wing thugs in Washington. At least half of them are being paid off by one special interest group or another!

      August 21, 2014 at 12:08 pm | Reply
  3. chri§§y

    @ Joseph, i am NOT taking up for the thugs in washington! I genuinely wanted to know what the act of generosity that blogger was speaking of!!!! I do NOT have a hate on for cuba so stop pretending you know how i think or feel please! I have already voiced my opinion about how the US should handle this...not that it means a hill of beans to the idiots in congress, what i or you even, think!

    August 21, 2014 at 9:26 pm | Reply
    • Linda F. (Canada)

      Here is the link again:

      http://www.nbcnews.com/id/9311876/ns/us_news-katrina_the_long_road_back/t/katrina-aid-cuba-no-thanks-says-us/#.U_YU2md0yUl

      This will show you the act of generosity and how it was received in Washington. Thx

      August 22, 2014 at 6:30 am | Reply
  4. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

    WINTER VACATIONS NEAR FLORIDA:
    My most frequented have been genteel Barbados and Jamaica. Puerto Rico is always fun, and I love Luquillo Beach.
    Try little Dominica, which is not the Dominican Republic. Dominica's jagged topography could be a set for South Pacific, the musical.
    None is like Capri or Hydra, but we don't live in Europe. Yet.

    August 22, 2014 at 8:25 am | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      I'd much rather go to Cuba, Joey. Thank you anyway.

      August 22, 2014 at 9:16 am | Reply
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        Ah, @ My Troll, now I understand. Is she blond? Brunette?

        August 23, 2014 at 9:57 am |
      • Maynor Song

        you can't anyway haha, USA citizens are not allowed to go Cuba or buy anything from Cuba in any place on Earth, #loveAmericanFreedom

        October 24, 2014 at 11:29 am |
  5. Francisco Bravo

    There is a conflict USA-castrofascism?????..... there is not such........ USA sells to castro 85% of Cuban's food, USA send to castro $2000 millions every year, USA put in jail all Cubans trying to wage war on castrofascism, fine them with $250.000 and confiscate all weapons and equipments..... castro fascism collaborates with USA giving them intelligence information about extreme Muslims, castrofascism collaborates with USA giving them all Cuban major industries along 53 years of economic destruction, Castrofascism collaborates with USA creating and financing guerrilla groups across Latin America and destroying in such way those countries stability, economy and society creating in such way a better environment for USA domination.
    The real conflict and the only one that exist is the conflict castrofascism- Cuban people and the only 2 economical restrictions still USA maintain on castrofascism are due to Cuban nation in exile work for avoid the criminal castro regime can get resources to kill, jail and repress the Cuban nation in the island........

    August 22, 2014 at 8:35 am | Reply
    • George patton

      Are you serious? Even a three-year-old knows better than that!!!

      August 22, 2014 at 8:41 am | Reply
    • Francisco Bravo

      Please folks, just ignore my stupid comments here. What do I really know, I'm just an ignorant Tea Partier from Florida?

      August 22, 2014 at 8:47 am | Reply
  6. Eddie Fonseca

    For many years this great mysterious tropical island which allows tourists from the United States of America, and different parts of the world to experience the great Cuban culture from their salsa music and their Cuban Margarita drinks which become famous in Miami which became poplar in the little Cuba Harlem in the Miami Bronx during the late seventies and eighties. Cuba has produced many great singers from Manolin nick named El Medico De La Salsa from his hot salsa music and movies, and his music has spread across the world including far of places like France and some parts of the Middle East as well. So why as Americans must we fear Cuba in this global society, we know Cuba at one point had missiles to destroy America during the Cuban missile crises, but those days of the cold war have no place in our multicultural global society. We must as America create more foreign trade policy's between Cuba and America, because there is much we can learn from them such as improving our healthcare system and other trade related things as well. So as Americans we love the idea of packing a suitcase and taking our closet friends or co-workers, with us and experiencing different cultures and taking those memory's back home to our family who can plan their next trips to those places we have visited. Without having a stronger foreign trade relationship between the American and Cuba government, will our two great nations be able to move forwards and put years of hateful stereotypical ideology, behind us or will tourism and trade between Cuba and America, start to suffer over time,and be like that Cuban American song of Ray Barretto we are living in a tourism and trade Pastime Paradise for all of us for years to come.

    August 22, 2014 at 11:16 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      Years and years will pass before I forget JFK's missile stance and our planning which friends and pets we would pack into the car to escape to Canada when the nuclear devices were coming.

      August 23, 2014 at 10:07 am | Reply
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

        I was a naive college student when I admired leaders like Fidel Castro.

        August 23, 2014 at 10:11 am |
      • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

        And I was a High School student then and I still admire Fidel Castro and his younger brother Raul, Joey. Did you grow naive through the years or what? Apparently you believe the phony line put out by the U.S. government about Cuba.

        August 23, 2014 at 1:50 pm |
  7. chri§§y

    Lol @ Joey (in blue~the REAL Joey) naivety fades with age...and sometimes thats a good thing, isn't it?

    August 23, 2014 at 1:29 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      That it does chrissy, that it certainly does. As a teenager, I too believed in all that anti-Russian mumbo-jumbo and then came High School.

      August 25, 2014 at 11:30 am | Reply
  8. the Cuban missile crisis happened a long time ago!

    The Cuban Missile crisis happened a very long time ago. If America was even half-way intelligent, we would have extended an olive branch to Cuba, and started investing in their island, not just smart from a business standpoint, but a strategic standpoint also, considering that it is just 90 miles from Florida! Instead, we have allowed Russia and China to wheedle into Cuba now, and slowly take over that island. Working well with such a "close" neighbor should always have been a high priority. Shame on us!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 25, 2014 at 11:52 am | Reply
    • George patton

      Good posting, the Cuban missile crisis happened a long time ago. Quite true indeed!!!

      August 25, 2014 at 12:48 pm | Reply
  9. chri§§y

    True @ fake Joey! But after sooooooo many lies from our government, i now, believe NOTHING!

    August 25, 2014 at 3:23 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      It was not from the USA government that I learned about communism and why it fails.
      Only a simpleton would be intimidated by being accused of acquiring his knowledge from government propaganda or FOX News.

      August 25, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      Thank you chrissy for wising up. If only more people would feel that way, this country might have a chance!

      August 26, 2014 at 9:17 am | Reply
  10. chri§§y

    Lol if you paid attention you would know that i wised up a heckuva long time ago!!!!

    August 26, 2014 at 2:41 pm | Reply
  11. chri§§y

    And maybe you could get a little wiser yourself. Check out their plans for our future...the plan THEY have for the American Hollocaust! As i said previously, it ISNT peaches and cream for sure. Ok that was on an earlier thread lol. Still the same.

    August 26, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Reply
  12. chri§§y

    X ok that wasnt ro help us!

    August 28, 2014 at 6:43 am | Reply
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