So who benefits the most from this new ‘relationship’ between the United States and Cuba? Aficionados’ will soon be able to smoke fine Cuban cigars without having to smuggle them into the U.S., but beyond that what exactly has the U.S. gained by Barack Obama’s diplomatic overture towards the brutal communist dictatorship in Havana?
The Caribbean island has been locked in the 1950’s for decades as the rest of the world moved into the twenty-first century. But while trapped in the past Cuba has certainly been involved over the years in current events, and usually not in a particularly positive way.
Cuban DGI intelligence officers provided assistance to the North Vietnamese in conducting interrogations of American POW’s during the Vietnam War. Interrogations that were far more brutal than the EIT’s used by the CIA to interrogate captured al Qaeda terrorists.
The island nation has served as a proxy for the former Soviet Union at hotspots around the world, confronting and sabotaging American interests in Latin America, Africa, and elsewhere. Cuba has been a willing partner in any endeavor to undermine American influence wherever that may be.
There will certainly be some positive results beyond access for Americans to good cigars and salsa, including an opportunity to open Cuban markets to American businesses. The release of American hostage Alan Gross, a victim of the brutal and repressive Cuban regime who was being held by Cuba on trumped up charges is a positive step, and all Americans join his family in welcoming him home.
Will Cuba moderate their long history of anti-American rhetoric in Central and South America? Will they end the decades of torture and imprisonment of Cuban citizens for doing nothing more than yearning for the freedom taken for granted just ninety miles away in the United States? Seems unlikely under the Castro leadership.
In the long term this decision could bode well for both countries. Barack Obama gets to poke a finger in the eye of Vladimir Putin in return for Putin’s adventurism in the Western Hemisphere, something the president must be savoring. And American influence with our neighbors in Central and South America may be improved without Cuba undercutting our arguments for freedom and free markets at every turn.
Time will tell whether this will be viewed as Barack Obama’s one successful move on the foreign policy front during his presidency, or just another miscalculation on the part of his national security team by releasing three nasty Cuban DGI agents, who may go right back to work for Cuba exporting revolution uninhibited in our own back yard.