Obama to Partially Normalize Relations With Cuba

In a move that should have been made decades ago, President Obama is partially normalizing relations with Cuba. We’ll be opening an embassy there for the first time in half a century and easing some of the travel restrictions (which isn’t enough, in my view).

The United States will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century after the release of an American contractor held in prison for five years, President Obama announced on Wednesday.

In a deal negotiated during 18 months of secret talks hosted largely by Canada and encouraged by Pope Francis, who hosted a final meeting at the Vatican, Mr. Obama and President Raúl Castro of Cuba agreed in a telephone call to put aside decades of hostility to find a new relationship between the United States and the island nation just 90 miles off the American coast.

“We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries,” Mr. Obama said in a nationally televised statement from the White House. The deal will “begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas” and move beyond a “rigid policy that’s rooted in events that took place before most of us were born.”…

In addition, the United States will ease restrictions on remittances, travel and banking relations, and Cuba will release 53 Cuban prisoners identified as political prisoners by the United States government. Although the decades-old American embargo on Cuba will remain in place for now, the president called for an “honest and serious debate about lifting” it.

“These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s time for a new approach.”

The right wing is predictably outraged because they live perpetually 50 years behind the times:

Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida and son of Cuban immigrants who may run for president in 2016, denounced the new policy as “another concession to a tyranny” and a sign that Mr. Obama’s administration is “willfully ignorant of the way the world truly works.”

“This whole new policy is based on an illusion, on a lie, the lie and the illusion that more commerce and access to money and goods will translate to political freedom for the Cuban people,” Mr. Rubio said. “All this is going to do is give the Castro regime, which controls every aspect of Cuban life, the opportunity to manipulate these changes to stay in power.”

Fox News is losing their minds over it, of course. But this is all just nonsense. Yes, Cuba is clearly lacking in political liberty and is ruled by a dictator. That makes them no different than half the nations of the world. What is truly bizarre to me is that the first people who will freak out over this is the Cuban exile community in Florida, the ones most affected by the travel ban. They have been prevented contact with their families still in Cuba for decades by this absurd policy, but they — most of them, anyway — will be the first ones to demand that it continue.

In fact, that’s what this is all about. The opposition will be fueled not by genuine concern but by a need to pander to the Cuban ex-pats in Florida to position themselves for the 2016 presidential election. Don’t be surprised if Congress tries to block this, led by Rubio and Ted Cruz, who never passes up an opportunity to pander to the far right. This despite the fact that a majority of Americans support this and an even higher percentage of Floridians and Latinos do.

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  • gshelley

    “All this is going to do is give the Castro regime, which controls every aspect of Cuban life, the opportunity to manipulate these changes to stay in power.”

    I don’t think for a second Rubio believes what he is saying, but do they people he is pandering to actually think “Well, it’s slow, but working, give it a couple more years and we’ll force the regime to collapse”?

  • theguy

    “the lie and the illusion that more commerce and access to money and goods will translate to political freedom for the Cuban people”

    IIRC, wasn’t this a libertarian strategy? Don’t know if it works or not, but I guess it shows that Rubio has no consistent principles.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida and son of Cuban immigrants who may run for president in 2016…

    That must lead to uncomfortable silence around the dinner table, what with both of his parents thinking about running for president and all.

     

    All this is going to do is give the Castro regime…

    Back in the 70’s, I rode a Castro Regime. Nice motorcycle.

  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    I do not think Obama really even wants this. It is his last term. 2 more years in office. Obama is just trolling the GOP at this point. First immigration, now this? Pure trolling! Wait until he has the IRS give tax breaks for abortions!!

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Finally, the new Pope does something worth mentioning.

    Speaking of which, is the Pope guilty of the same charges the wingnuts are now leveling at Obama?

  • some bastard on the internet

    Raging Bee @5

    I half-expect some right-wingers to start claiming that they’re the same person.

    Now that I think about it, have they ever been seen together in the same room?

  • John Pieret

    Mr. Obama’s administration is “willfully ignorant of the way the world truly works.

    Says the man who thinks that a policy that has failed to work for 50 years will suddenly start working in the 51st … or 52nd … or 53rd … or …

    One thing you are hearing is “If sanctions don’t work, why impose them on Russia or Iran?” Well, for one thing, the governments in Russia and Iran care that their economies are in the crapper, the Castros apparently don’t. It didn’t take 50 years to get Iran to negotiate over its nuclear program and Putin is beginning to squirm (and if we give him a face-saving way out, he might just take it). Another thing is that Obama has not lifted the embargo for the simple reason that he can’t. All he has done is establish diplomatic relations (totally within his power) and ease some travel restrictions and made it easier for Cuban Americans to sent money to their relations. Not exactly the sort of stuff that will make it any easier for the Castros to hang onto power than it has been for the last half-century.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Says the man who thinks that a policy that has failed to work for 50 years will suddenly start working in the 51st … or 52nd … or 53rd … or …

    Are you kidding?! Our policy of trying to kill Castro was on the cusp* of success, when the Appeaser in Chief backed down! Just another year would have done it, I tell ya!

    ___________________________

    * Speaking of which, what the hell is a “cusp” anyway?

  • http://howlandbolton.com richardelguru

    ” is losing their minds over it”

    Um… Wouldn’t they need to be in possession of them to do this?

  • http://howlandbolton.com richardelguru

    Oh I lost “Fox News” from the beginning of that.

    not a bad thing, really

  • Mobius

    The conservatives are losing their minds and what to keep things going just as they have been.

    Einstein’s comment on insanity and repeating the same action comes to mind. The former policy has been going on for 50 years and nothing has been changed. In the mind of a conservative, this is a perfectly good reason to continue the policy.

  • raven

    I’ve thought for years that if we just treated Cuba like another country, they would end up like just another country.

    1. We have the USA with 319 million people. Rich, vibrant, and dynamic. (Although on a downhill slide, we have a long way to go.)

    2. 90 miles away we have Cuba, impoverished and going nowhere with 11 million people.

    3. The law of cultural and economic gravity says they are going to end up somewhat like us. Look what happened to Mexico and Canada or East Germany versus West Germany.

    It might take a while but that is the way it goes.

  • http://www.pandasthumb.org Area Man

    …but do the people he is pandering to actually think “Well, it’s slow, but working, give it a couple more years and we’ll force the regime to collapse”?

    Being a Republican means never having to say you’re sorry. You don’t expect a mere half-century of failure to change their minds, do you?

  • leftwingfox

    * Speaking of which, what the hell is a “cusp” anyway?

    It’s what holds your drink at the skating brink.

  • John Pieret

    Facepalm!

    According to RWW, Pat Robertson “argued that America’s 52-year-old sanctions against Cuba were just about to work in toppling the Cuban government until Obama’s announcement offered Cuban leaders a ‘bailout.'”

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/pat-robertson-supports-cuba-opening-principle-opposes-it-because-obama#sthash.joDGrmE1.dpuf

  • http://kamakanui.zenfolio.com Kamaka

    We dislike your leadership, therefore we will do everything we can to impoverish your populace.

    Nice play, Rubio, let’s keep grinding your people under the boot. Nasty fucking plutocrat.

  • robertfaber

    Rubio said he doesn’t care if 99 percent of those polled support opening relations with Cuba, he’d support the embargo instead, because democracy. Also, the guy’s parents fled Batista Cuba, not Castro Cuba. But hey his book wouldn’t have sold as many copies if it had been intellectually honest (just like he wouldn’t have received as many votes).

  • eric

    Raven:

    I’ve thought for years that if we just treated Cuba like another country, they would end up like just another country

    Yeah I agree; this is a strategic death knell to the Cuban dictatorship. It may take a few years, but the current regime in Cuba will not survive normalized relationships and open borders any more than the Soviet Union could survive the wall coming down.

    And I think Raul knows it. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he just didn’t have the dedication to being a dictator that Fidel had. That, like Gorbachev or Yeltsin, he’s thinking about his legacy in terms of transition instead of just being the next castro-in-power.

  • Trebuchet

    The recent election was pretty much a fiasco, but it has certainly liberated Obama. He pretty much doesn’t give a shit any more about trying to work with idiots.

  • Childermass

    We are not at war with Cuba.

    We are not in the process of going to war with Cuba.

    Cuba is not in the process of going to war with us.

    Cuba is unlikely to be a danger to the staff we send.

    I think that alone should settle the issue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=153100784 Michael Brew

    … the lie and the illusion that more commerce and access to money and goods will translate to political freedom…

    Communist scum!

  • matty1

    How hard was it before to travel from the US to Cuba? There were the weekly ‘secret’ flights from Miami and plenty of routes where changing planes in Mexico got round the letter of the travel ban while still getting the same people to the same destination

  • dingojack

    Only a partial normalisation?

    Thanks Obama!

    😉 Dingo