Improving US Cuba Relations

Relations between Cuba and the USA have been at loggerheads since the period of the Cold War. Fidel Castro’s assumption of power in 1959 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 contributed greatly to the straining of relations between USA and communist Cuba. Mr. Castro’s alliance with the Soviet Union made Cuba a geopolitical flash point in a global struggle of ideology and power.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower imposed the first trade embargo in 1960 and broke off diplomatic relations in January 1961, just weeks before leaving office and seven months before Mr. Obama was born. Under President John F. Kennedy the failed Bay of Pigs Operation aimed at toppling Mr. Castro in April 1961 and the 13-day showdown over Soviet missiles installed in Cuba the following year cemented its status as a ground zero in the Cold War.
Successive U.S. administrations have employed tough measures against the country, including prolonged economic sanctions. However in the second decade of the twenty first century, there are signs that US is softening its stance on Cuba. The softening of US policy stance towards Cuba has come on the heels of the release of American prisoner John Gross. USA reiterated the favor by releasing three Cuban prisoners who were a part of a group called the “Cuban five”.
In December 2014, President Barack Obama announced a slew of initiatives meant to restore US diplomatic relations with Cuba. A press release from the white house mentioned that the traditional US policy stance of isolation of Cuba had not only failed to accomplish the objective of promoting the emergence of a prosperous and stable Cub, but had also isolated the US from regional and international partners, constraining the ability to influence outcomes.
President Obama remarked: “We are choosing to cut loose the anchor of the past, because it is entirely necessary to reach a better future – for our national interests, for the American people, and for the Cuban people”. From lifting the amount of alcohol and tobacco travelers can bring back from Cuba to a review of whether Cuba is to still be considered “a state sponsor of terrorism”, these initiatives are thought to be a major step in normalizing relations between the two countries. One of the influencing factors behind the lifting of this embargo is the presence of the Cuban Diaspora in America that stands to benefit immensely from the improved relations.
For example, the Cuban-Americans can now send more money back to family and friends on the island, given that Obama has raised the cap on remittances.Moreover, there is a lot of potential for telecommunications companies to expand their sphere of operations as now more Cubans are likely to be connected to the internet.
The two governments are cooperating to combat human trafficking, improve airline security and conduct search and rescue operations. They are working on joint efforts to improve public health and guard against environmental degradation.
Cuba stands to benefit from the new US Policy stance. The renewed and softened US policy towards Cuba is likely to support entrepreneurship, the private sector and civil society in Cuba, and expand Cuban’s access to new sources of information. Cubans will have more access to U.S. goods including building materials, farm equipment and communications devices and services, improving living standards and encouraging economic independence. On the political front, Cuba can achieve reforms in its one party totalitarian system by developing a grass root political culture.
These new policies represent a significant step towards normalizing relations between the US and Cuba. There are societal implications and historical symbolism of moving past what has been fifty years of isolation and there are mutual legitimate long-term benefits to be gleaned from an amicable relationship between the two countries.

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