How much longer for the United States to normalise relations

Winter 2016

CubaSi Editorial, Winter 2016

It has now been just over a year since the historic 17 December 2014 announcements that the United States would move towards ‘normalising’ relations with Cuba. Since then we have heard about further developments seemingly supporting this narrative towards better relations.

However the US blockade still remains in place and it threatens international companies who are fearful of any involvement with the island. While the blockade remains there is limited scope for Cuba to benefit from the inward international investment that it is looking for.

President Obama has the capacity to do so much more even without the need for congressional approval so often cited as the factor hindering further progress. He could, for example, authorise the use of the US dollar in Cuba’s international transactions and facilitate greater direct trade between the two countries by sanctioning credits and bilateral banking.

Yet such simple steps are not being taken and the bilateral discussions between the two countries are beginning to drag on.

At the same time there are worrying developments with the US State Department itself announcing a further $5.6 million US dollars for mis-named so called ‘democracy’ programmes which are in effect used to attack Cuba. This is in addition to $30 million already given through the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID for similar programmes directly interfering in Cuba’s internal affairs.

Cuba has been sincere, respectful and patient in discussions with its superpower neighbour. The fact is that there is little alternative for the island but to wait. In the end it is down to Washington to make the necessary changes and end its unilaterally imposed anti-Cuban measures. With the fast approaching US Presidential elections on the horizon there is only a short window left for Obama to act. Clearly there are concerns that a new President may take a more anti-Cuban approach.

Meanwhile Cuba continues to do what Cuba does so well. Its international medical programmes continue to receive plaudits, its health education and social provision remains the envy of peoples across the globe. Its sporting and cultural brilliance continues to inspire. We are honoured to play a small part in celebrating some of these achievements. In April we will be jointly hosting a special reception at the historic final farewell concert to the Buena Vista Social Club. In October, we will be working with the Music Fund for Cuba organising ¡PRESENTE!, a wonderful exhibition of Cuban contemporary art.

We hope you will join with us in applauding Cuba in its ongoing efforts to build a better world while remaining patiently optimistic that the United States will eventually recognise that ending its outdated blockade is essential to any normalised relationship.

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