No change by Castro, no change in trade embargo
BY JAIME SUCHLICKICTP.ICCAS@MIAMI.EDU
10/22/2014 6:26 PM 10/22/2014 6:26 PM
There’s an eagerness among many in this country to begin a process of
normalizing relations with Cuba. The belief persists that economic
considerations could influence Raúl Castro’s policy decisions and that
Cuba’s difficult economic situation will force Cuba’s leader to move
toward a market economy and closer ties to the United States.
Yes, despite economic difficulties, Castro does not seem ready to
provide meaningful and irreversible concessions for a U.S.-Cuba
normalization. He may release and exile some political prisoners. He may
offer limited economic changes to tranquilize the Cuban population, but
not major structural reforms that would open the Cuban economy. Cuba is
not moving to a market economy. In Cuba, political considerations
dictate economic decisions.
Raúl’s legitimacy is based on his closeness to Fidel Castro’s policies
of economic centralization, control and opposition to U.S. policies.
Raúl cannot reject Fidel’s legacy and move closer to the United States.
A move in this direction would be fraught with dangers. It would create
uncertainty among the elites that govern Cuba and increase instability
as some advocate rapid change while others cling to more orthodox
policies. The Cuban population also could see this as an opportunity for
mobilization demanding faster reforms.
Raúl is also unwilling to renounce the support and close collaboration
of countries like Venezuela, China, Iran and Russia in exchange for an
uncertain relationship with Washington. Russia and China have recently
provided billions of dollars in credits to Cuba, and Venezuela’s aid to
the island surpasses $7 billion yearly.
SUCHLICKI | Hector Gabino/El Nuevo Herald
Raúl is no Gorbachev or Deng Xiaoping and no friend of the United
States, presiding over the worst periods of political repression and
economic centralization in Cuba.
Raúl has been a loyal follower and cheerleader of Fidel’s anti-American
policies and military interventions in Africa and elsewhere. In 1962, he
and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev conspired to surreptitiously
introduce nuclear missiles into Cuba. He supervised the Americas
Department in Cuba, approving support for terrorist, guerrilla and
revolutionary groups throughout Latin America, and in 1996 he personally
ordered the shooting down of two Brothers to the Rescue unarmed civilian
planes in international waters, killing three U.S. citizens and one
Raúl’s politically motivated speeches in the past, in which he expressed
his willingness to negotiate with the United States, are preceded by
attacks on U.S. foreign policy and followed by the now-standard
qualifiers that Cuba is sovereign and that its revolution won’t change.
For the past four decades, Fidel Castro had been making similar
statements. Raúl’s statements are aimed at foreign audiences, the
Europeans and, particularly, the U.S. Congress. He expects unilateral
U.S. concessions on the embargo and the travel ban. In a rare public
statement six years ago, Raúl warned that the United States should
negotiate its differences with Cuba while Fidel was alive since “the
U.S. would find it more difficult to negotiate with him.”
There has to be a willingness on the part of the Cuban leadership to
offer real concessions — in the area of human rights and political and
economic openings — for the United States to change its policies.
No country gives away major policies without a substantial quid pro quo
from the other side. Only when Raúl is willing to deal, not only with
the United States, but more importantly with the Cuban people, then and
only then we should sit down and talk.
JAIME SUCHLICKI IS DIRECTOR OF THE INSTITUTE FOR CUBAN AND
CUBAN-AMERICAN STUDIES AT UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI.
Source: No change by Castro, no change in trade embargo | The Miami
Herald – http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article3307743.html