Restoring ties with Cuba after 50 years

News from Cuba | Thursday, 26 March 2009

by Marcus Papadopoulos for Tribune magazine

THE only two Central American states that do not have diplomatic relations with Cuba announced last week their decision to restore ties with the communist island. El Salvador and Costa Rica severed ties with Havana in 1959 and 1961 respectively after the Cuban revolution in which Fidel Castro overthrew the despotic dictator General Fulgencio Batista.

Commenting on his government’s decision, Costa Rica President Oscar Arias said: “Today there is no sense of pretending that we are officially at a distance from each other. We co-operate in various areas, we support consular and trade relations with Havana and have direct air links.”

The president-elect of El Salvador - and former Marxist guerrilla - Mauricio Funes said: “We would be, at present, the only country in Latin America that doesn’t have diplomatic relations with Cuba.”

The issue of relations with Havana figured prominently here at home last week when William Hague, Shadow Foreign Secretary, urged US President Barack Obama to lift American sanctions on Cuba as a way of bringing pressure to bear on the Cuban government to reform.

Mr Hague made the request following his official visit to the Caribbean island - the first in a long time by a senior British politician.

As Tribune reported on March 13 the Obama administration has already eased several restrictions on Cuba, including allowing Cuban-Americans to visit the island more regularly.

Meanwhile, the British-based Cuba Solidarity Campaign is running a campaign under the heading “Wish you were here” urging Foreign Secretary David Miliband to visit the country.

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