Thursday, January 29, 2015

Raul's Strings For Bilateral Relations

Way back in 2001, I published an article on U.S. recognition policy toward Latin America. I outlined the development of that policy, from the original Jeffersonian ideal of "de facto" recognition of government (meaning if the government exists, we recognize it) to the subsequent attachment of all kinds of strings.

This is not the same as recognition, but I thought of that when I saw news of  Raúl Castro's speech (text here in Spanish) about the strings Cuba would attach to normalizing diplomatic relations with the United States.

El restablecimiento de las relaciones diplomáticas es el inicio de un proceso hacia la normalización de las relaciones bilaterales, pero esta no será posible mientras exista el bloqueo, no se devuelva el territorio ilegalmente ocupado por la Base Naval de Guantánamo (Aplausos), no cesen las trasmisiones radiales y televisivas violatorias de las normas internacionales, no haya compensación justa a nuestro pueblo por los daños humanos y económicos que ha sufrido. 
No sería ético, justo ni aceptable que se pidiera a Cuba nada a cambio. Si estos problemas no se resuelven, este acercamiento diplomático entre Cuba y Estados Unidos no tendría sentido.

The wording here is a bit tricky. He says that "re-establishment of diplomatic relations" is a precursor to "normalization of bilateral relations." I am not sure what precise difference he has in mind here. The two countries are so tightly bound together that bilateral relations likely will never be normal.

To get to that end of "normalization," he has strings that clearly won't be honored by the United States government anytime soon. Coincidentally, I was just talking about Guantánamo to my U.S.-Latin America class on Tuesday. These days it exists largely to spy on Cuba and to house people we've kidnapped in the Middle East. It should be returned to Cuba but politically it's hard to see that happening. As for compensation, I can only see such a discussion happening far into the future, when all policy makers are far removed from the revolution.

Coming back to the issue of strings, this is a logical move by Castro. He is asserting the Cuban right to have strings but not using them--as the U.S. did with recognition policy--to block progress altogether.


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