Washington and Havana: Recycling an old policy
The opening of Cuban and American embassies in each others’ capitals as
part of the diplomatic normalization announced by President Obama
includes unprecedented, important concessions to Gen. Raúl Castro that
will be difficult to maintain by future American administrations.
Among those concessions is the payment of millions of dollars to the
Cuban regime for Cuban government employees who work inside the U.S.
mission. All of them are a security threat to the U.S. embassy in
Havana. U.S. embassies around the world employ foreign nationals, but in
Cuba they are Cuban government workers. This anomalous arrangement was
expected to end with the reopening of an American embassy in Cuba.
In addition, the State Department has yet to respond to congressional
inquiries about whether Castro has pledged to honor the Vienna
Convention and to not open or interfere with the American diplomatic pouch.
The lack of transparency in bilateral negotiations, the administration’s
failure to inform Congress and the heavy Cuban police presence
surrounding the embassy in Havana that prevents normal access to the
Cubans are also issues. The embassy is the old U.S. Interests Section
building with a new sign and, for the first time in 50 years, an
Unfortunately, the announcement took place a few days after the arrest
of 226 peaceful dissidents throughout the island.
Obama’s Cuba policy suffers from the same problems some of his
foreign-policy initiatives have encountered elsewhere, including
self-imposed deadlines and a disregard for American national interests,
the reestablishment of a hostile Russian presence on the island
accompanied by an intelligence gathering facility. And, Cuba’s alliances
with North Korea and Iran come to mind.
In reality, the new Obama policy is the old and discredited policy that
ignored human-rights abuses and based American diplomacy on corporate
The archives are full of smiling American presidents with folks like
Trujillo, Somoza, Batista and other strongmen. Obama will have to get
used to seeing his photograph with Castro as part of that infamous
FRANK CALZON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR A FREE CUBA,
Source: Washington and Havana: Recycling an old policy | Miami Herald
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