Topic: US-Cuban Reconciliation
Is US-Cuban Reconciliation necessary? Is it viable? Furthermore, Is it possible?
On September 14, 2009 President Barak Obama extended the trade embargo on Cuba for one year, with the clear intention of reviewing the terms of the trade embargo against one of it’s most notorious Cold War opponents. The most recent move toward repairing the United States’ relationship with Cuba has been to lift travel and finance bans that have been in place since 1959.
The United States and Cuba have had a tumultuous history, with the Bay of Pigs, and the Cuban Missile Crisis being two of the most infamous military moments in the Cold War era. Most certainly the posture between the two states, although no longer threatening, or hostile, both states appear indignant at the prospect of reconciliation.
I would like to look at the origin of the conflict between Cuba and the United States; the peaks of the conflict; the context of the implementation of this almost 50 year embargo; the effects of the embargo; the efforts of the United Nations to ease relations; to define the type of reconciliation that would necessary for these two states; consider the perspective of analysts that maintain that the embargo should remain indefinitely; and lastly, to investigate if reconciliation is possible between the US and Cuba.
With regard to Cuba, the United States continues to keep its friends close and its adversaries closer.
(Saddath, 04/15/09) And while Cuba lies less than 100 miles (160 km) off the coast of Florida, the two nations have had no diplomatic relations since 1961 and use Switzerland as a mediator whenever they need to talk.
Saddath, “A Brief History of US-Cuban Relations”
1. Are international measures of truth, justice, regard and security as effective as domestic measures?
2. Who makes the final call in intervention?
-What are the political motivations and further more the political ramifications.
3. How do we detangle the intricate relationship between morality and the law with regard to reconciliation?
-Does one precede the other? How do we determine how one informs the other.
4. In the case of the Nuremberg Tribunal, what are the ramifications of holding individuals responsible for state actions [in international crimes].
5. Are there any states that have NOT encountered some form of reconciliation process management?
6. What is the correlation between the history of reconciliation and the international systems reliance on specific international bodies.
7. Do we wholeheartedly agree that a “law’s effectiveness is dependent on the moral legitimacy of the law.” (May,140)
8. What are our thoughts on the reconciliation process in Iraq.
Senior Thesis: The Road to Reconciliation
“What has been the role of leadership in halting and/or hindering reconciliation between the US and Cuba.”
There have been historical and ideological barriers to US reconciliation with Cuba. My research will focus on the cultural, political and socio-economic implications of the resistance of both states to reconcile their differences.
As the United States trade embargo against Cuba approaches 50 years in the making, the reconciliation of these states remains shrouded in the legacy of the Cold War.
Chronologically looking at the origins of the conflict between Cuba and the United States, the peaks of this conflict, the context of the implementation of this trade embargo, the effects of the embargo, the explicit role of state leaders in halting reconciliation, despite the efforts of the United Nations to ease relations and the push of other actors to improve relations between the US and Cuba.
As well as to consider the perspective of analysts that maintain that the embargo should remain indefinitely.
Lastly, investigating the current reconciliation efforts between the US and Cuba.
Dr. E. Morris
Working Thesis: The role of leadership in hindering/haltering reconciliation between the United States and Cuba.
Note:This bibliography has been arranged by year, and reflects the policies of the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations from 2004-2011.
Hughes, John. “In Cuba, Castro’s Communist Hard-Liners Dash Hopes of Reform.” The Christian Science Monitor: n/a.ProQuest. Jun 16 2011. Web. 1 Oct. 2011 <http://search.proquest.com/docview/872097241?accountid=8381>.
Hughes references the struggle to change the views of Raul Castro amidst the maintenance of certain upper level political advisors in his administration.
Obama has eased the restrictions between the United States and Cuba.
Montaner, Carlos Alberto. “CUBANS ARE POOR AND ENSLAVED. (Cover story).” Foreign Policy 158 (2007): 60-61. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 1 Oct. 2011.
Montaner argues that Castro’s death will catapult Cuba into reform towards democracy. Arguing that only until then will Cubans be free to exercise their rights of citizens, no longer fearful of imprisonment, persecution or exile.
Castro’s longstanding dictatorship has made it difficult for critics to intervene in Cuba’s policies. Human rights continues to be used a foreign policy tool between the United States and Cuba. This articles speaks to the core assumptions of the United States administration in its embargo.
Ramonet, Ignacio. “CASTRO’S ENVIABLE RECORD. (Cover story).” Foreign Policy 158 (2007): 61. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 1 Oct. 2011.
Ramonet argues against Montaner, and supports Castro’s political campaign, and maintenance of order under his regime. He was an advocate for Castro’s policies, and viewed his administration favorably.
This article represents the different views of Castro’s administration.
Bush, George W. “President George W. Bush Remarks at the U.S. Department of State on Cuba
Washington, D.C.” White House Transcript Archives 24 Oct. 2007
“The heart of the policy: to break the absolute control that the regime holds over the material resources that the Cuban people need to live and to prosper and to have hope.”
George W. Bush suggested that only until the Cuban people had access to democracy would the United States change its position towards Cuba.
Speck, Mary. “Closed-Door Imperialism: The Politics of Cuban-U.S. Trade, 1902-1933.” Hispanic American Historical Review 85.3 (2005): 449-483. Historical Abstracts. EBSCO. Web. 4 Oct. 2011.
The article examines the debates between the United States and Cuba over the Reciprocity Treaty of 1903. Discusses how the treaty, promised Cuba a discount on US protectionist tariff rates, and its effects on Cuba. The political inconsistencies between Cuban and US relations deprived Cuba of a stable economy by making it vulnerable to US trade policies and prevented the United States from attaining a profitable market. The author suggests that American diplomacy in Cuba failed to establish stable, long-term economic relations with Cuba because of tariff policies that favored narrow domestic interests.
This represents the economic background that supports the United States’ opposition to Cuba, and Cuba’s resistance to the United States policies.
Erikson, Daniel P. “Castro and Latin America: A Second Wind?.” World Policy Journal (MIT Press) 21.2 (2004): 32-40. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 4 Oct. 2011.
Discusses relations between Cuba, under the leadership of Fidel Castro, and Latin America. The article presents various views on the ability of Castro to maintain and improve regional ties and references the effect of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. upon the relations between Cuba and the West. It also draws attention the agreement between Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez regarding oil trade.
Explains some of the background of Castro’s stance against US political and economic influence upon Cuba.
Beaubien, Michael C. “U.N. CALLS FOR ENDING U.S. EMBARGO AGAINST CUBA.” New Crisis (15591603) 105.5 (1998): 22. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 4 Oct. 2011.
Reviews the numerous resolutions and the votes in these resolutions at the global assembly to end the US embargo against Cuba.
Represents the support of the global community to end the embargo.
“Bureaus in Cuba.” Editor & Publisher 130.8 (1997): 4. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 4 Oct. 2011.
This article suggests that free speech could be established by integrating international media bureaus into Cuba, via licenses and political reform.
This represents the opening of formerly blocked means of communication between the two states.
Holt, Pat M. “After 37 years, it’s time for a new US policy toward Cuba.” Christian Science Monitor 04 Jan. 1996: 19. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 1 Oct. 2011.
Holt suggests that the policies that have been maintained towards Cuba have been steeped in ideology and remnants of the Cold War.
Holt advocates for new foreign policy toward Cuba. Holt represents the fact that there were US constituents that were calling for new policies, leading toward reconciliation between the US and Cuba.
Benenson, Bob. “Dissonant voices urge Clinton to revise policy on Cuba.” Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report52.34 (1994): 2498. Academic Search Complete. EBSCO. Web. 1 Oct. 2011.
The article reports President Bill Clinton’s efforts to deal with Cuba’s dictator, Fidel Castro. It also reports these efforts as being challenged by various groups. One camp calling for a get-tough policy while others urge Clinton to undertake negotiations.
The opposition to any negotiations with Castro from Florida’s Cuban-American community, and the call for tightening sanctions sets up the conditions for Clinton’s handling of mounting costs with regard to handling Cuban refugees.
Updated: January 11, 2010
- What is the status of U.S.-Cuba relations?
- What is U.S. public opinion on the isolation of Cuba?
- What is the likelihood that the United States and Cuba will resume diplomatic relations?
- What is the main irritant in U.S.-Cuban relations?
- What are the issues preventing normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations?
- Will Raul Castro introduce significant changes in Cuba?
- Why is Cuba on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list?
- What is the status of Cuba’s economy?
- How does Venezuela assist Cuba?
Cuba has been at odds with the United States since Fidel Castro assumed power in 1959. Successive U.S. administrations have tried tough measures including prolonged economic sanctions and designation of Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but none substantially weakened Castro’s rule. In February 2008, Fidel formally resigned from office, sixteen months after transferring many powers to his brother Raul due to illness. Despite stirrings of U.S. economic interest in Cuba and some policy softening under President Barack Obama, experts say that normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations is unlikely in the near to medium term. Tensions increased in early 2010 when the United States included Cuba on a list of fourteen countries whose citizens will receive additional screening in the wake of the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound flight. The Cuban government denounced the measures (Reuters), saying they were “politically motivated” and a “hostile action” by the United States.
“Who Wants to Open Relations with Cuba?”
BING Search: Who Wants to Open Relations with Cuba (October 19, 2011)
Cuba wants to re-establish relations with the United States with a focus on humanitarian issues, Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez says.
Report on Cuba to the 110th Congress.
The CATO Institutes has called for Congress to review its policy on US-Cuban Relations.
Transcripts from the Center from Defense Information. A discussion on US-Cuba Relations
Clinton, Bush, and Obama: How leadership has stalled US Reconciliation withCuba
Arguing that US leadership has been one of the main roadblocks to reconciliation between the US andCuba.
Caveat: The presence of Fidel Castro has been a constant and unwavering opposed to reconciliation. It is assumed that he has made no efforts to repair relations with theUnited States, with no desire to be reconciled with theUSor the international community. Castro has often asserted that US sanctions have been an attack upon his authority.
a. Leadership in Reconciliation
This section is aimed at presenting the track record of leadership as a crucial starting point for effective reconciliation, with examples of Mandela and Tutu inSouth Africa, Blair in the Belfast Agreement, and the Dayton Accords.
Regarding the unique relationship between the Castro-led socialist government ofCubain direct opposition to these three different administrations: Clinton (D) Bush (R) Obama (D) and presenting the positions taken by these three heads of state.
Why is there need for reconciliation? What is to be reconciled? Who are the major actors in this conflict of ideologies?
How have these individual leaders approached reconciliation between theUSandCuba?
How could have this process been different?
What other interests/actors are involved?
-Commercial sectors eg. Agriculture, tourism
– International Diplomacy eg.United Nations,Venezuela
The embargo is the final symbol of the Cold War. With possibility of such influence in reconcilingCubato theUnited States, leadership has only stalled the process.
Found new sources in the Library.
Went looking for books on Castro. Found so much more.
Checked out books on Cuba, Cuba’s Development and Cuba in post-Cold War politics.
1. Cuba Today and Tomorrow: Reinventing Socialism by Max Azicri
Specific to my research:
Cuban-US Relations under President Clinton Part I & II
Images of Cuba in US Media:
Link to 10 Presidents, 1 Dictator (NPR Article):
Clinton, Castro, and Cuba:
US Public Diplomacy for Cuba (March 2010):
Notes from Presentation
August 1994, Castro declares an open migration policy. 30,000 refugees leave Cuba for the United States. As in the Mariel exodus, the United States regards the refugee outflow as threatening to U.S. interests, and the U.S. Coast Guard acts to prevent further migration.
October 1995, Bill Clinton becomes the third president to attempt to improve relations with Cuba.
In 1995 the Clinton Administration, in an agreement with Fidel Castro, amended this policy so that if a Cuban refugee was found at sea, that individual would be sent back to Cuba; but if the refugee was fortunate enough to make it to dry land, that person would be allowed to stay and pursue residency status, hence the “Wet foot-Dry foot” policy that remains in effect today.
The effort ends in February 1996 when Cuban missiles shoot down two civilian aircraft in international airspace. Three Americans and one Cuban legal resident are killed.
Clinton tightened sanctions against Cuba and suspended charter flights from the United States to Cuba, hoping this would cripple Cuba’s tourism industry.
March 1996, Congress passes the Helms-Burton Act, codifying the embargo against Cuba into law. The Clinton administration attempts to bypass Castro by promoting “people-to-people” contacts.
- 1. Strengthened sanctions against the current Cuban Government
- 2. It required the President to produce a plan for providing economic assistance to a transition or democratic government in Cuba.
- 3. Created a private cause of action and authorizes U.S. nationals with claims to confiscated property in Cuba to file suit in U.S. courts against persons that may be “trafficking” in that property.
- 4. Required the denial of visas to and exclusion from the U.S. of persons who, after March 12, 1996, confiscate or “traffic” in confiscated property in Cuba claimed by U.S. nationals.
Clinton softened his Cuban policy in 1998 and 1999. In March 1998, at the urging of Pope John Paul II, Clinton lifted restrictions and allowed humanitarian charter flights to resume. He also took steps to increase educational, religious, and humanitarian contacts in Cuba. The U.S. government decided to allow Cuban citizens to receive more money from American friends and family members and to buy more American food and medicine.
The economic growth of Cuba mainly depends on Tourism, Agriculture, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, foreign investment and International Trade. Sugar has its major contribution to the economy’s developement with major share with the land, labour, and other relative factors affecting the industry. Vaccines in Cuba amounts to a major source as far as foreign exchange is concerned with nations like Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and Latin American countries.
Clinton says: “The emigration of the Cuban refugees is the result of Castro’s failed system.” But notice that in speaking about Castro’s “failed system,” Clinton and others in his administration never go into specifics. What specifically is it about Castro’s system that has failed?
Let us scratch beneath the surface and see what we find. As we do so, ask yourself: Does Clinton oppose any part of Castro’s failed system? For the last thirty years, Castro’s failed system has consisted of:
(1) national health care; (2) public housing; (3) public schooling; (4) public works; (5) public spending; (6) high taxation; (7) welfare; (8) economic regulations; (9) guaranteed employment; (10) trade restrictions; (11) emigration and immigration controls; (12) wage and price controls; (13) antispeculation laws; (14) government monetary system.
In other words, if we examine carefully the specifics of Castor’s failed system, we find — voilá! — the economic philosophy of Bill Clinton! In fact, there is not one aspect of Castro’s economic philosophy that Bill Clinton does not wholeheartedly embrace.
The last decade has seen the U.S. tighten and then relax restrictions depending on the political climate. A 2001 agreement to sell food to Cuba in the aftermath of Hurricane Michelle has so far remained in place; the United States is now Cuba’s main supplier of food, with sales reaching $710 million in 2008.
Links from my early research:
(Before I narrowed down my thesis)
US-Cuba Reconciliation Initiative
Fund for Reconciliation and Development
Obama renews Cuba trade embargo
US Embargo of Cuba, Half a Century Later
William M. LeoGrande
Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs , Vol. 40, No. 1 (Spring, 1998), pp. 67-86
Article Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/166301
Adams & Jones: It’s Time to Reconcile with Cuba
- By John Adams and David W. Jones
- Special to Roll Call
- Sept. 1, 2010, 11:07 a.m.
“If we can reconcile with Germany and Vietnam, why not with our neighbor Cuba? Why cling to our failed Cuba policy with its self-isolating diplomacy and unilateral embargo? Our current policy hurts two groups the most: the Cuban and American people. Why don’t we replace it with forms of peaceful engagement that have a proven history of success?”
John McAuliff Article
by John McAuliff
Founder and Executive Director, Fund for Reconciliation and Development
Posted: September 20, 2010 02:53 PM
Twenty years passed between the end of the war in Vietnam and establishment of normal relations by President Bill Clinton.
In the interim the U.S. maintained a unilateral economic embargo and sought fruitlessly to diplomatically isolate a country that had grievously wounded our pride and caused tens of thousands of war time casualties.
Yet today we are Vietnam’s largest export market, a major source of foreign investment and second only to China as a source of tourists. Presidents, prime ministers, secretaries of state and foreign ministers make regular warm visits to each other’s capital.
At no point along the way to normalcy did we require that Vietnam change its system of government, release political prisoners or adopt our standards of human rights. Today, while still a one party state with limits on organized political opposition, Vietnam is a more open society than when I first visited in 1975 or when the U.S. normalized in 1995.
Some aging exiled leaders, militant refugee organizations and their allies in Congress object to our relationship, but they don’t represent majority sentiment in their own communities and have marginal impact on U.S. government policy.
Far closer to home (perhaps the cause of the problem) we have carried a grudge against Cuba for five decades, insisting that even the potential of change in our relationship requires first modification in their form of governance and domestic acts like the release of political prisoners.
Few Americans dispute these are desirable ends, but two thirds do not see them as legitimate prerequisites for normal travel.
In a sense Cuba has called our bluff. After extended conversation with the Catholic Church and the Spanish government it has begun release of all its 150 prisoners considered by international human rights agencies to be political.
Significantly the first to be freed, with the option of exile to Spain or remaining in Cuba, are 52 men still imprisoned from the Black Spring arrests of U.S. linked opponents in 2003.
Perhaps in response, there were reports in several newspapers last month that the Obama administration planed to undo restrictions on non-tourist travel by Americans that were imposed by its predecessor in 2004, officially in reaction to the Black Spring convictions.
Predictably the quintet of Cuban Americans in the Senate and House, and allies such as south Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, have forcefully sought to block or minimize proposed changes.
Subsequent reports suggest the president and secretary of state approved the changes but at the behest of political operatives in the White House the announcement will be delayed until after the mid-term elections on November 2d.
From my experience with Vietnam, I believe that would be a mistake.
Until the White House expends its full authority to allow non-tourist travel, opponents will mount the same campaign against each step of liberalization, just as they did last year when President Obama through general licenses allowed Cuban Americans unlimited visits for family reunion purposes.
Once the action is taken, the fight is over. Just as opponents voice minimal objection now to Cuban American travel, they can do little more than grouse about ongoing travel for educational, cultural, humanitarian, dialogue, professional exchange, religious or humanitarian purposes.
By granting general licenses to IRS recognized not-for-profit organizations, the administration could enable widespread encounters between diverse Americans and Cubans without the costly delay of application to the Office of Foreign Assets Control — and diversion of OFAC energies from its proper national security agenda.
At the same time all U.S. travel agents and tour operators must be enabled to book tickets and accommodations for legal travelers. This will eliminate the unfair advantage given to some 200 OFAC licensed travel service providers and to businesses based outside the U.S.
The administration will be attacked for providing an economic subsidy to the dastardly Cuban government. However even if 100,000 non-tourists go to Cuba in the first year, they will be a drop in the bucket compared to 2009 arrivals of 2.4 million, 300,000 of whom were Cuban Americans.
Cuba should in turn make its own analogous gesture, freely allowing students and others to come to the U.S. for academic, professional and family reasons.
On the up side, the president will be true to his own values that favor dialogue over repetitive ineffective confrontation. As in any human encounter, real learning is a two way street and we can expect accelerated progress in both countries toward a fuller relationship and domestic relaxation.
Ironically, this is the most likely inducement to real reform within Cuba as it was within Vietnam. However, it will be on Cuban terms, and not necessarily to the liking of hard line exiles in Florida and New Jersey who still dream of using U.S. power to restore their painful losses.
Letters can be sent from here to the president calling for boldness on travel to Cuba.
Follow John McAuliff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cubaaction
Cuba Reconciliation Act Bill 2011
Cuba Reconciliation Act Bill 2009
The Challenge of Reconciliation
Article discussing the challenges with primarily domestic reconciliation between Cubans and the Cuban government,
FOCAL POINT Spotlight on the Americas
June 2003, Volume 2, Number 6
Revealed: how Kennedy’s assassination thwarted hopes of Cuba reconciliation
Castro ‘saw killing as setback and tried to restart dialogue with new administration’
A few days before his assassination, President Kennedy was planning a meeting with Cuban officials to negotiate the normalisation of relations with Fidel Castro, according to a newly declassified tape and White House documents.
The rapprochement was cut off in Dallas 40 years ago this week by Lee Harvey Oswald, who appears to have believed he was assassinating the president in the interests of the Cuban revolution.
But the new evidence suggests that Castro saw Kennedy’s killing as a setback. He tried to restart a dialogue with the next administration, but Lyndon Johnson was at first too concerned about appearing soft on communism and later too distracted by Vietnam to respond.
A later attempt to restore normal relations by President Carter was defeated by a rightwing backlash, and since then any move towards lifting the Cuban trade embargo has been opposed by Cuban exile groups, who wield disproportionate political power from Florida.
Peter Kornbluh, a researcher at Washington’s National Security Archives who has reviewed the new evidence, said: “It shows that the whole history of US-Cuban relations might have been quite different if Kennedy had not been assassinated.”
Castro and Kennedy’s tentative flirtation came at a time of extraordinary acrimony in the wake of US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion by Cuban exiles and the missile crisis which led the world to the brink of nuclear war.
It began with a secret and highly unorthodox dialogue conducted through an intrepid journalist and former soap-opera actor and involved plans to fly a US diplomat from Mexico to Cuba for a clandestine face-to-face meeting with Castro alone in an aircraft hangar.
On a newly declassified Oval Office audiotape, recorded only 17 days before the assassination, Kennedy can be heard discussing the option with his national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy.
The president agrees in principle to send an American diplomat, Bill Attwood, who had once interviewed Castro during a former career as a journalist, but he fretted that news of the secret mission would leak out. At one point Kennedy asks: “Can’t we get Mr Attwood off the payroll?” If the diplomat was no longer on staff the whole trip would be deniable if it came to light.
Kennedy had been thinking about reopening relations with Havana since spring that year.
The key intermediary was Lisa Howard, an actor who had become a leading television journalist when she managed to land an interview with the Soviet leader, Nikita Krushchev.
In April 1963, she scored another coup – an interview with Castro, and returned with a message for the Kennedy administration, that the Cuban leader was anxious to talk. The message launched a frantic period of diplomacy, recounted in a television documentary broadcast last night on the Discovery Times channel, entitled “A President, A Revolutionary, A Reporter”.
The president was receptive. The CIA was pursuing various schemes aimed at assassinating or undermining Castro, but Kennedy’s aides were increasingly convinced Havana could be weaned away from Moscow.
In one memorandum a senior White House aide, Gordon Chase, says: “We have not yet looked seriously at the other side of the coin – quietly enticing Castro over to us,” instead of looking at ways to hurt him.
According to Mr Bundy, Kennedy “was more in favour of pushing towards an opening toward Cuba than was the state department, the idea being… getting them out of the Soviet fold and perhaps wiping out the Bay of Pigs and getting back to normal”.
The administration gave a nod to Ms Howard, who set up a chance meeting between Mr Attwood and the Cuban ambassador to the UN, Carlos Lechuga, at a cocktail party in her Park Avenue apartment.
The apartment then became a communications centre between Mr Attwood and the Castro regime. Castro’s aide, Dr Rene Vallejo, called at pre-arranged times to talk to Mr Attwood, and in the autumn of 1963 suggested that Mr Attwood fly to Mexico from where he would be picked up by a plane sent by Castro. The plane would take him to a private airport near Veradero, Cuba, where the Cuban leader would talk to him alone in a hangar. He would be flown back after the talks.
Kennedy and Bundy discuss the plan on the tape on November 5. The national security adviser does much of the talking but the president is clearly worried that the trip will be leaked. First he suggests taking Mr Attwood off the state department payroll, but later he decided even that was too risky. Instead, he suggested Dr Vallejo fly to the UN for a confidential meeting to discuss the agenda of direct talks with Castro.
The plan, however, was sunk by the assassination. Ms Howard continued to bring messages back to Washington from Castro, in which the Cuban leader expresses his support for President Johnson’s 1964 election and even offers to turn the other cheek if the new US leader wanted to indulge in some electoral Cuba-bashing. But the Johnson White House was far more cautious. The new president did not have the cold war credentials of having faced down the Soviet Union over the Cuban missile crisis. The moment had passed.