Obama’s Historic Visit To Cuba | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Obama’s Historic Visit To Cuba

Posted: Apr 12, 2016 at 7:51 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)


The recent visit of Barrack Obama, the President of United States of America (USA) to Cuba, best illustrates the mantra that in international politics, there are neither permanent friends nor enemies. It is also a pointer that the realities of present international diplomacy dictate that the US policy of isolating adversaries might not, ultimately, be in the interest of the country and its antagonists.
For long, the US government has had a frosty and bitter relationship with Cuba, based on ideological and sundry differences. Indeed the relationship has been that of conflict of opposites: “Communism vs. Capitalism; Cuban loyalists vs. Cuban exiles; the state vs. the individual”. President Obama’s visit is the first by any American President since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.

Recall that following the end of the Spanish—American war in 1898,Cuba came under US military occupation. And although the country gained its independence four years later, an agreement was struck, which granted the Americans the right to intervene militarily in Cuba, whenever the US government deemed fit. This clause was exploited by America to secure a naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Southeastern tip of the island. Following this development, the US investment in Cuba over the next decades, especially in Agriculture increased, while tourism flourished until in 1959 when Fidel Castro and his communist forces took over power.
The relationship took a dramatic change with the nationalisation of US possessions on the island by Castro’s administration. In 1961 the American government cut off its diplomatic ties with Cuba and imposed a full trade, economic and financial embargo the following year. And in 1996 the US government enacted the Helms-Burton Act, which penalised American companies investing in Cuba.
But after sixty years of an Isolationist policy towards the Island, it appeared only losers emerged. Cuban Americans could not go back home nor transfer knowledge and know-how to their mother land, neither could both countries benefit from trade or exchange, despite being just 485 miles or less than 2 hours of each other.
The present rapport between the two countries therefore offers a new hope for peace and development in that region. We agree with President Obama that normalising relations with Havana is fundamental to the growth and development of Cuba “because nearly 60 years of quarantining the island” by US has not achieved any measure of success.
It is instructive that before Obama’s visit and within weeks of announcing an end to the ‘cold war’, both countries embarked on commercial airline travels and tourism initiatives that made the arms length relationship not only childish but one that was wrongly done.
However, with the latest move, more Cubans are likely to emigrate to the US, adding to the cultural diversity of the country. Since Cubans have intense love for their homeland, demonstrated by those already in the US, it is expected that they would always use skills learned and knowledge gained to develop Cuba in the long run, apart from the huge financial remittances back home. Indeed not a few analysts believe that this is an opportunity for Cuba to use the American expertise to diversify her economy, which is dependent on sugar cane cultivation.

Beyond the economic benefit, this is equally an opportunity for America to acculturate Cubans towards the adoption of Democracy, a move that is coming nearly a century too late.
Why it took America this long to embrace Cuba may be a subject of conjecture, especially after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the crumbling of the former Soviet Union, occasions, which clearly pointed to a steady spread of Democracy.
But more fundamental is that the positive change in US-Cuba relations should be a signal to the World’s super power that it is time to embrace countries like North Korea and most Arab nations to reduce global tension and other abrasive actions inimical to international peace and development.