Improving relations between the U.S. and Cuba


President Barack Obama met with the President of Cuba Raul Castro a day after Obama clashed with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This was the first meeting between a U.S. and Cuban president on U.S. soil in over 60 years. This was also the first trip to a U.N. meeting since 2000 when Raul Castro’s older brother, Fidel Castro, spoke at the Millennium Summit. This meeting is so key to restoring diplomatic relations between the two countries that the hand-shaking photo op alone took nearly one minute.

Castro said that the country can only normalize ties if the U.S. removes the trade embargo. I asked Mr. Hilvert what he thought the U.S. or Cuba needed to do to completely get rid of the trade embargo.

“I think it is going to take time more than anything else to normalize all the relationships, but eventually it will get done,” said Hilvert.

I agree with Mr. Hilvert in that time is going to be the main factor in normalizing ties. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez said Castro expressed this point respectfully and constructively. Rodriguez also wants Obama to bypass Congress and remove the trade embargo himself because Rodriguez believes the pace that the relationship normalizes at will depend on when the trade embargo is lifted. Rodriguez insisted that “The executive power of the U.S. is very broad.” I believe that the power should remain with power and that Obama has no anticipations to change that. Obama knows that it will be a long time before relations between the U.S. and Cuba are completely fixed.

I asked Mr. Spencer and Mr. Hilvert if they thought the U.S. and Cuba would be able to normalize ties as long as the U.S. owns Guantanamo Bay. Mr. Spencer told me “Yes” while Mr. Hilvert told me “No”. But Mr. Hilvert believes that this will become a slowly more negotiable term. Castro wants the U.S. to return the Guantanamo Bay military base to Cuba. Obama said he has no plans of returning the base to Cuba, but he has looked into dispelling the prison inside the base. I personally believe that the base is important to the U.S. and we should not give up the base or the prison. Foreign Minister Rodriguez said that Cuba is writing up different propositions so that U.S. and Cuba can continue to improve relations, but until Cuba allows the U.S. to keep control of Guantanamo Bay the relations will never be whole.

I asked Elder sophomore Jack Harrison what he thought about the personal relationship between Obama and Castro.

“I think because Obama is really left leaning that he is a lot more forgiving to Castro, and he seems to want to forget what he did before,” said Harrison. “But I don’t believe Castro has changed much from what he used to be.”

The two obviously have their differences, but it is clear the two do not resent each other. Castro, during the meeting, even joked about how much taller Obama is. These two have discussed with each other on multiple occasions and I believe this is the start of a good relationship. Obama being a democrat also helps their relationship because a democratic Politian will have closer political views with a communist than a republican Politian would.

I asked Harrison and Mr. Spencer if they believed that the relationship the U.S. and Cuba will ever “whole” again and Harrison said, “No. I think the Cold War is like scar and it will never be healed.” He also said that the only way The U.S. and Cuba will ever a good relationship is if Cuba becomes a U.S. state or territory and that he “doubts” that it will ever happen. Mr. Spencer told me it will be “when the Castro brothers die and Cuba rejects communism.”

“…when the Castro brothers die and Cuba rejects communism.”

— Mr. Spencer

I agree with Harrison in that the Cold War will be a main factor in that it will be a big barrier to over-come to completely fix relations, but I believe this could be over-come if Cuba renounces Communism and becomes Capitalist. I would disagree with doubting that Cuba would ever become a territory or state only because I more than doubt that it will ever happen. I strongly believe that will never happen.

The main two factors slowing down the process of Cuba and U.S. are the trade embargo and the U.S. maintaining ownership of the Guantanamo Bay Military Base. According to the recent reports it seems that trade embargo will be lifted shortly. The main factor that will greatly slow down the process is Guantanamo Bay. I believe as relations become better Cuba will start to consider allowing the U.S. to maintain control of the base. If Cuba is willing to do this, I believe that the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba will be made whole again.