Let’s get U S-Cuba relations straight

Dr. Kwame Nantambu
April 11, 2009

Raul Castro and Barack ObamaThe purpose of this article is to set the record straight in regard to the Cuban issue at the Fifth Summit of the Americas that is scheduled for April 17-19 in Trinidad.

Indeed, the record shows that Fidel Castro came to power through armed revolution on the 1st January 1959. He overthrew General Fulgencio Batista.

On 3rd January 1961, President Dwight Eisenhower severed diplomatic ties with Cuba.

On 17th April 1961, the United States conducted the ill-fated “Bay of Pigs” military invasion against Cuba.

On 1st May 1961, President Fidel Castro declared Cuba a “Socialist State”.

On 7th February 1962, the United States imposed an economic/trade embargo against Cuba.

On 22nd October 1962, President John F. Kennedy imposed a “quarantine” and “blockade” against Cuba during the famous “Cuban Missile Crisis.”

What this litany suggests is that Cuba is no longer a threat to the national security interests of the United States. Cuba is not America’s ‘enemy’ today. There are no Soviet/KGB military personnel on Cuban soil and Cuba does not have any nuclear warheads aimed at America’s Miami coast.

The fact of the matter is that current Cuban President Raul Castro is not pursuing a foreign policy objective under the rubric of “proletarian internationalism” whereby Cuba has over 75,000 military personnel in southern Africa fighting against European colonialism as then President Fidel Castro had during the dark days of the Cold War. Those days are gone.

Furthermore, during his presidential campaign, Senator Barack Obama constantly called for improved relations with Cuba based on specific political conditions that must exist in Cuba. Those conditions have not changed now that he has become President of the United States.

Quite recently, the Obama administration not only permitted Cuban-Americans to visit their families in Cuba but they are also able to send remittances to them.

The fact of the matter is that President Barack Obama is scheduled to attend the Fifth Summit of the Americas. The President is not attending the Fifth Summit on Cuba; ergo, Cuba should not be on the top of the agenda.

Hemispheric leaders need to understand that while military policy is a “one-shop” action, diplomacy is for the long haul. Ipso facto, any suggestion that Cuba should be the focal point at this Summit represents a misunderstanding and miscalculation on their part as to the modus operandi of America’s foreign policy decision-making process.

The fact of the matter is that improved relations between Havana and Washington will only be achieved by means of direct, one-on-one talks/discussions between officials of both governments. It will never be achieved through discussions between third-party government leaders at any Summit or Conference. Diplomacy just does not work that way.

Let the record show that the Obama administration is seeking to improve relations with Tehran through direct, one-on-one talks between high government officials on both sides — not via any Islamic Conference.

The Obama administration is also seeking to achieve the same through direct talks with the leadership of the Palestinians and the Afghanistan government. President Obama has appointed “special envoys” to achieve this goal.

Therefore, any improvement in US-Cuba relations must follow this same diplomatic model. Indeed, a forty-seven year-old US policy cannot and will not be changed at any Summit of the Americas. It will only be changed following the afore-mentioned diplomatic model. That’s it.
This is the principled position of the Obama administration and it is the correct geo-political decision.

Dr. Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of labour and Co-operative Studies and University of the West Indies.

16 Responses to “Let’s get U S-Cuba relations straight”


  • Would you lend money to people who don’t pay your bills? Should we americans finance an economic disaster? I remember the Castro brothers asking americans to leave. We left.

  • It is about the time that we start normal diplomatic relations with Cuba. If we can do business with China why not Cuba?

    Cuban Americans in Miami are the most selfish people in the world, because they want to keep Cuba under-developed! Chinese Diaspora never did that. For them, their mother land’s development is more important than politics. Now China has become a super power!

  • Do not pay too much attention to Antonio and similarly threatened ‘anti Cuban people’ nuts , Dr Nantambu. In similar fashion to post Communist Soviet Jews , many are now threatened by the sense of future lost of Washingtonian influence that would surely ensue , once the symbol of Castro is no longer in existence to serve as a crutch . Kind of reminds us of our numerous obsessive, country haters in parts of New York , London, Paris , Pert , and Ontario , eh?
    This was perhaps one of the most authentic analysis I have the good fortune to read recently on the political realities involving Cuba and the regional -and if some still believe, global hegemonic powerhouse called the USA.
    The childlike obsessions , knee jerk commentaries ,and unreasonable expectation many suddenly expect from this new President and his administration is mind-boggling. In essence ,not fully comprehending the concept of a baby having to creep before it walks.
    We’ll see ,but perhaps it’s time for some of us to get a political think thank up and running aimed and educating the common , naïve, and sometime intelligent though misguided folks about how politics works , particularly within the power corridors of the North / South divide, yes? As for me , right now I am asleep when it come to his overtures, but wake me up when the Sudan , Congo and Somalia peace envoy is generated , as well as the United Nations has assumed it’s righful place as the symbolic arbiter of global Peace , Security, and economic prosperity for all. Let’s bigin lesson 1 professor , on the Philosophy of Pragmatism.

  • Sorry Ms.L for the typo – or perhaps display of substandard writing skills . I had promised to cross my T’s and dot my I’s yet cannot even spell begin. Hold back on your red ink pen please . Regards.

  • The Rabbi Blancos in Miami wax nostalgicly for the era in Cuba under Fulgencio Batista when their color was a badge of honor and privilege. It is fact that Cuba still has a long way to go in terms of removing the second and third class citizenship stigma from its majority African descendant population. It is the fact that this would become a possibility under the Castro Revolution that influenced the initial hard stance of the US. They were apprehensive of this kind of RADICALISM crossing the Atlantic and disrupting the status quo that existed in the South at that time.

  • I agree with Dr. Nantambu overall, but I would say that when dealing with different countries the United States doesn’t always use the same blueprint for diplomacy.
    The discussion about normalizing U.S. Cuban relations didn’t just start with this administration. This has been a subject of discussion for at least two decades now. The possibility of it actually happening now is high. However, it won’t be because of the summit.
    If I were Jamaica or any other Caribbean Country reliant on Tourism, I would fear this move. If Americans can all of the sudden go to the one place they were denied for so many years and it being only 90 miles from the U.S. shore, why vacation anywhere else. If you live in the southern U.S., you could go for a day. The casinos will be back and the infrastructure rebuilt. Vegas should also be worried. Before the fall of Batista, what was Vegas, Jamaica, etc…?
    The Rude Boys may need to legalize it to keep pace. Then again, perhaps it is tourism that harms them most.
    One thing is for certain, and that is that there are many things that need to be considered before this move happens. At the same time, denying Cuba with the excuse of human rights violations is unacceptable considering the trade that happens between the U.S. and China, and Saudi Arabia.

  • Such a pity no one on this blog has access to the records of the Battista regime in Cuba before the revolution. Cuba was a corrupt American playground, where vice was high art and racism the order of the day.

    The fact that Last Vegas came into being when the gamblers were kicked out of Cuba, says a lot for Cuba, which focuses its limited budget on education and health for al its ctizens. Garcia asks if we should help someone who does not pay your bills, and spoke of America having got out of Cuba. They are still in Guantanamo Bay. They did not leave, the way they left Chaguaramus.

    If our Caricom governments would encourage citizens to go to Cuba, our eyes could be opened.

    America’s government, in the past, has gone ballistic at the very name Cuba, but it is time for normalization of relations in all of the Americas.Cuba is a friend of most hemispheric nations, where America was a bully. It is time for Obama and Raul Castro to have a Cuban coffee somewhere.A beautifully neutral place like Port-of-Spain would be a good placefor this.

  • Tell us what ‘you’ think pastor1. We care little to be subjected to trifling gibberish of a bombastic ,water down Cuban American political figure ,that can go to sleep at night happy with the fact that his ancestral home Cuba remains in the throws of an economic garbage heap for over six decades due to his misguided efforts and other divided , ungrateful , culturally confused , bourgeois Latinos living in the USA.
    Nothing is really wrong in paying homage to one’s newly adopted home, but this phony might be better served to focus on trying to create some meaningful jobs in his state ,clean up Wall Street , and save future generations from dying in senseless wars overseas., as America move along a prudent partway of prudent, shared , global responsibility.

  • Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey speaks as if the United States hasn’t shared similarities of governance regarding domestic populations, economic, human Rights, and labor with the exception that the wealth and race allowed/ allows the United States to be absolved from global persecution, and universal outrage regarding its own hypocrite leadership
    The U.S. government stood endorsed hundreds of millions into the fields to pick cotton and stood by while hundreds of millions were lynched, tarred and feathered, or beaten into a deathly submission.
    The United States stages meaningless elections where false promises are made and corrupt business owners are backed by the government rather than allowing their precious capitalism to work. The people pay and will continue to pay for the mistakes of corrupt business owners who in return hand out million dollar bonuses to their nonproductive friends.
    Anyone can obtain internet access, but if you post unfavorable comments about the government, then you’re monitored and tracked and labeled/ profiled.
    The average U.S. citizen has less spending power because of a weaker dollar than they did at the start of the embargo placed on Cuba. A dollar just doesn’t go as far as it used to.
    The U.S. has millions of sex workers within the borders of the U.S. and within two miles of the White House.
    There are thousands of jails and prisons in the United States where thousands of men and women are forced to work for wealthy companies for little or no compensation. Many have been convicted only because they were poor or lacking the right look to persuade a biased jury. The private jail and prison system makes corrupt local and state officials wealthy from monetary kickbacks for contracts.
    Did this Senator mention Biological experiments? What about Tuskegee? Did he forget about that?
    Police shooting suspects to death in Oakland after being placed and secured face down on the ground in handcuffs to cops delaying people at hospitals while their loved ones on their death bed pass away are a couple of examples of government oppression within the United States. Some can’t even go to a bachelor party without the police shooting the grooms to death hours before the wedding. Target practice on citizens while the federal government stays silent. The Feds can comment in protest over legal amendments to laws in foreign countries thousands of miles from its shores, but will say nothing about disparities in prosecution of people within its own borders.
    George Bush in the past eight years significantly stripped U.S. citizens of their rights and wealth.
    Innocent people detained at airports because of profiles. Others are or have not been allowed to board airplanes because of their names.
    Change in the United States can get you elected as president as long as you don’t change anything that would help the people directly. Stimulus for the wealthy and trickle down economics don’t really speak of change. It’s the same message, with a different package and as a result a bewildered constituency.
    J Edgar Hoover terrorized generations of U.S. citizens. Where was the protest from U.S. Senators then? Millions tried to flee the south and the U.S. government stood by. The U.S. Senators have done little if anything to curb human rights violations in China, South Africa under apartheid, etc… but yet want to deny Cubans because Castro wasn’t going for the politikkks of the United States. What the U.S. does for one, it should do for another.
    The United States cannot claim to be a model for democratic process and inclusive change if they allow some to have normalized trade relations and not others even though all have records of human rights violations.
    Perhaps the United States shouldn’t reward what they see as offenders of human rights. The United States should treat all countries with records of human rights violation the same. That being stated, the United States should cease to have relations with all countries that have a record of human rights violations.
    Senator Menendez criticizes business interest and those who advocate for labor rights within the United States but are willing to accept forced labor in Cuba. Perhaps he should know that the United States government in which he is a part of accepts deplorable working conditions in China.
    Will President Obamas quote of Martin Luther King Jr. about injustice lead him to cease relations with China and others who violate human rights standards of the United States.

    This Senator wants the Cuban Government to not tax remittances so that his family can regain their position in society from the days before Castro rule. He wants Cuba to go back to the days of Batista as it was told to him.
    Communism is not the enemy of the United States. Menendez has a personal and monetary interest in Cuba. Then again, as a U.S. Senator, surely he is aware of the impact of lifting the embargo on Cuba would have a dire effect on his State especially Atlantic City. Now he has the Senator from Nevada speaking in his support. Nevada. Nevada was nothing when Cuba had normal relations with the United States. In fact, if relations were normal, Las Vegas would become the new Atlantic City.
    Making Cuba a democracy is not as important as normal trade relations. If it were, China would be a democracy.

  • Whenever I her people from TnT badmouthing Cuba, I refer to little Elian Gonzales, who was rescued from the sea when his mother drowned trying to get to the US. Anyone remembers his beautiful smile, his sparkling white teeth? this was not a cuban aristocrat, but a child of poor parents, seprated.

    Now, look around Trinidad, or the poor places in the US where Latinos of limited means lie, and look at the children’s teeth.
    Enough said.
    True Castro confiscated the property of many, but if a revolutionary government in trinidad and Tobago, had confiscated and redistributed the estates of the Boucauds, Stollmeyers, de Vertuiels and so on, the people who got the land would ahve ben the labourers who had already earned it through their starvation wages. That would have only been fair, but when such things happen, we condemn the government of the country that siezed the land, as if to say we, though we may be poor and non-white, approve of the idea of vast land grants to the powerful, given by European monarchs, and the enslaving of people who are non-white, i order to ensure that the riches continue to flow to Europe.

    All of Latin America, except Cuba, venezuela,Brazil and Bolivia are that way. Venezuela, Bolivia and Brazil are locked in the throes of class wars between the European exploiters and the indigenous and African people. Cuba broke from that in 1959. The west wanted to punish them for that, the way Europe punished Haiti for the ony successfu slave revoltin the history of the world.

    It is time that Cuba came in from the cold. Whorehouses and gambling joints do not improve the lives of the population, good medicine. clean food and good education does.

  • Apologies to Neal and others for typos in previous piece. I am tying and watching the Cavaliers kick butt against the Celtics, but if I stop to correct errors on the laptop, the piece get classified as span. I lose some of my best thoughts that way. The previous post must be considered a first draft, from a technical point of view.If this happens with this piece, I will resend it early Monday.

  • You can be forgiven Ms. L , as the NBA tend to do that sometimes to most of us. The talent levels of a few of the young players today are incredible. One must feel good for the city of Cleveland and it vibrant team , as it is beginning to look as if they are going to put a hurt on my boy Kobe once more just like Boston did last year. I so wanted him to regain some bragging rights on the Big Aristotle or is he now the cactus, or wannabe Mavericks. What a guy that 300 pound guy Shaq is . He just knows how to inveigle himself into a perfect situation all his career from Orlando to Phoenix via LA and Miami .He might just be the antidote for the soft underachieving Mavericks if David’s nemesis Mark Cuban falls for his not so subtle overtures , and is willing to pay him a million for each pound he is overweigh.
    Your point on Cuba is spot on with respect to Castro’s assault on American and European decadence in his country, as well as your astute comparative analysis about his regional neighbors faulty stewardships.
    My biggest concern is that the people of Cuba perhaps were forced to pay too much of a price in Castro’s one and one rough and tumble game with the USA game over the past 60 years. Numerous grateful independent states across the globe benefited from the sacrifices and efforts of the Cuban people-especially the Virgin continent. I tend however to be fervently consistent in my belief that one should not “ cut your nose to spoil your face,” but is prepared to show deference to other logical opinions on the subject. It is my hope like many across the globe that Cuba would also get a chance to come in from the Cold , as the benefits can be tremendous for the global community.
    My dear friend Curtis made a wonderful observation as to why the State of Nevada and New Jersey’s Sen. Mendez would be up in arms about normalization of relationships between Cuba and the USA, as it might impact negatively on their respective gambling industries. I sense that you do not anticipate a return to that Cuba before Fidel.
    You are not privy to any secret information of them locating some huge reserves of underground oil , gas, or other similar precious and scarce resources that most of us are not aware of did you ? Regular eco tourism , and lofty hospitals and schools are insufficient to satisfy the urgent economic needs of a people hibernating for so long I would think, but we’ll see .
    The irony is that with the country’s advances in research and medical science, Castro might very well outlive cousin Obama for all one knows. I just could be wrong , but do not anticipate much policy shifts, or room for political maneuvers as long as Castro and Raul are both still running the show in Havana., but what do I know?
    I still want to get a chance to visit the country soon to examine the teeth of and talk to some of Elian Gonzales much darker skin neighbors with the kinky hair that makes up the dregs of socialist Cuban ,class free society ,to see if theirs are of similar quality ? “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Fine words of wisdon from Uncle Karl.

  • “Coming in from the cold” means an increase in crimeThe gap between the haves and the havenot becomes glaring. Coming in from the cold means a money rather than a service economy. Coming in from the cold means pricing essential medications way outside the reach of the poor, who, because they are poor pay a higher price in the sickness business- they get sick more often, and sometimes, more critically. When last, for example, did some wealthy woman in Trinidad get burnt almost to death because her cooking pot caught fire? or the curtains blew into an open flame, or her lungs got poisoned from pesticides from working in the gardens of Aranguez? Poor women suffer all of these, all the time, and in Cuba they get attended to. Free. Look at how Cuba handles evacuations for hurricanes. Everybody out, No looting. Compare that to Katrina in New Orleans. Everybody out, but too bad if you have no car and no family elsewhere. The government purchased three hundred thousand body bags, which means, they were prepared to let the people of New Orleans drown. They, in case you did not know, are mostly non-white people. Bridges into other cities were blockaged with guntoting people, led by the leaders of that town so evacuees could not come there. People drowned by the thousands. Had that been Cuba, no one could have blocked evacuees from leaving a drowning city. There would have been no looting either.

    In Cuba doctors do not give minimum treatment at the clinic, like they do in TnT, then tell you to come see them at their office, for higher money. Its one system for all.

    When the first AIDS people were identified, Cuba isolated them to a new village, to protect the rest of the population. There, they are being treated, and few other people are getting the disease. There is no “vengeance intercourse” by infected people determined to take the world with them.Compare that to India’s denial, or south Africa’s and watch the difference in the death rates.

    No, Cuba is led by an intelligent man who wanted, and still wants, the best for his country.A drastic re-education program had to happen first.

    As Theophilus Stephenson, the gold medal Olympic boxer from Cuba said, when offered a million dollars to box in the USA..”No thanks. In Cuba, I will be a national hero. The government would give me a house. In America, I would be just another Nigger”. One with an accent, I must add, who could be shot down by the police even in his own driveway, because they thought his car was stolen. This happened in Belaire, a suburb of Houston on Dec. 31, 2008. The athlete was a baseball player who still lived at his parents house. They shot him in front of his parents, on his driveway. search http://www.chron.com.

    So, Cuba charted its own course. Try exploring the poetry of Afro-Cubans sometime. Thoughtful, exultant, beautiful.

  • Wealthy Cubans in America are excited about being able to send as much aid to their families in Cuba. They are also excited about being able to visit whenever they want. Many of them have already started reinvesting in old family businesses that were stopped when Castro took over.
    The same people/ families are up to their same old tricks. The Castros have to keep an eye on this or else it will be the same elitist returning Cuba into the same country that it was before Castro came into power. What would the Cuban people have learned if that happens?
    Now that these elites have made their money in the U.S. they have become powerful enough to control change through monetary corruption. Casinos will come later. Once the infrastructure is back in place and people with PhD’s don’t have to work as bartenders, but in their respective fields for example, the tourism and Casino industry can flourish and will take Billions from Vegas if done right providing that other factors stay the same like the value of the dollar for example.

  • Ms. Linda,

    Yours is the balanced and rational voice in this blog. Over the years, American leadership demonized Fidel in a effort to jusify 10 attempts to assinate him. Why? Because he freed his nation from the indiscretions of a regime that was immoral and corrupt by even the most liberal American standards. Now, the Obama administration in its wisdom seeks to reverse this ridiculous and counterproductive policy by using the change of Cuban leadership as the catalyst. Ironically, during the revolution, Raul and Che were far more radical than Fidel.

    Americans hate the idea of Communism but God is a Communist. God requires that all of mankind be considered and share equally of the fruits that It provides. This makes Communism the highest spiritual ideal. However, I do think that until humans have evolved to the highest spiritual level, such and ideal is socially impractcal and economically infeasible in the long term.

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