President Obama announced the re-opening of the US Embassy in Havana, Cuba this morning. Cuba will also establish diplomatic turf in Washington, DC, but declared that “normalized” relationships will develop only if the United States meets certain criteria.
The United States last occupied its Cuban embassy in 1961.
As the Caribbean Cold War continues to thaw, it appears as though each side owns a different perspective on the relationship. Obama sees this as a “break from the past” and a new way of doing things. Raul Castro responded in a statement detailing his country’s wish to continue with their “revolution”.
“Cuba will continue engrossed in the process of updating its economic and social model, to build a prosperous and sustainable socialism, advance the development of the country and consolidate the achievements of the Revolution,” the statement said.
The Obama administration is keen to move forward with Cuba despite its desire to maintain its societal status quo.
“Americans and Cubans alike are ready to move forward. I believe it’s time for Congress to do the same. I’ve called on Congress to take steps to lift the embargo that prevents Americans from traveling or doing business in Cuba,” the president said on Wednesday. “We’ve already seen members from both parties begin that work. After all, why should Washington stand in the way of our own people?”
Like the Iranians, it appears as though Cuba can spot bargaining opportunities. Cuba responded by issuing a set of lofty demands in exchange for more normalized relations.
“There can be no normal relations between Cuba and the United States as the economic, commercial and financial blockade applied rigorously continues, causing injuries and needs of the Cuban people, is the main development of our economy obstacle, constitutes a violation of International law and affects the interests of all countries, including the United States,” the statement said.
“To achieve normalization will be essential also that the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo Naval Base is returned, cease radio and television transmissions to Cuba that are in violation of international and harmful to our sovereignty policies, programs aimed at promoting deleting the internal subversion and destabilization, and compensate the Cuban people’s human and economic damage caused by the policies of the United States.”
As the Cubans are seeking greater concessions, Florida Senator Marco Rubio questioned what the Obama administration has gained with its Havana strategy.
“Throughout this entire negotiation, as the Castro regime has stepped up its repression of the Cuban people, the Obama Administration has continued to look the other way and offer concession after concession,” Rubio said in a statement issued by his press office.
“The administration’s reported plan to restore diplomatic relations is one such prized concession to the Castro regime. It remains unclear what, if anything, has been achieved since the President’s December 17th announcement in terms of securing the return of U.S. fugitives being harbored in Cuba, settling outstanding legal claims to U.S. citizens for properties confiscated by the regime, and in obtaining the unequivocal right of our diplomats to travel freely throughout Cuba and meet with any dissidents, and most importantly, securing greater political freedoms for the Cuban people. I intend to oppose the confirmation of an Ambassador to Cuba until these issues are addressed. It is time for our unilateral concessions to this odious regime to end.”
New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez posted this Tweet:
Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz offered his thoughts via Twitter as well:
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) July 1, 2015