Since Monday U.S. President Barack Obama has been engaged in what now looks like a poorly thought out rapprochement of the United States-Cuban relations. How did it all go so sour?


While I admire Obama's chutzpah, and his interest in Cuba, the time could not have been worse. Mr. Raul Castro has a human rights problem with the dissidents, a contender for the US presidency - until recently two of them - were Cuban Americans. All this has dimmed Obama's true intent and made him ponder to attacking castro on human rights. At another time (with no Presidential elections) perhaps Cuba will be allowed to be Cuba, and the United States - the United States.

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The intention was good. That the sanctions against Cuba be lifted and that the pearl of the Caribbean re-enters the world as a partner in economic progress. But the dailies from the New York Times to the Washington Post , to even the,  Jerusalem Post, carry a similar story; a failed common ground between the two parties. It is surprising that the two leaders did not agree on a common agenda. A common statement on human rights for example.

The basis of a contract is a material issue. If the US and Cuba decide to normalize relations then the two countries must have a material basis; perhaps, economics with human rights process. I add human rights because the affluent Cuban Americans in Miami are still roasting over Fidel Castro's human rights record from the 60s ( especially the Bay of Pigs incident) and 70s. They largely feel that Castro's socialism does not respect rights for person; rights for property and rights for speech. Apparently Cuba and Fidel Castro are one and the same entity.

- Albeit, the democratization of Cuba should not be the priority of the United States. It appears to be the priority of Cuban Americans. U.S. relations with Cuba should be built on national interest, not on what is expedient for Cuban Americans. This reality - hauntingly, for the sober minded -  was JFK's dilemma.

This begs the question, is it in the national interest for America  to normalize a relationship with a country that is seen as repressive by some of its citizens?

I think here, this is clearly the job of the U.S. Senate,  to give U.S. foreign policy its national interest or flavor.  This is not the job of Cuban Americans in Miami!

An answer to that would require a look at all the countries that America trades with; do none of these countries have human rights records? In addition, shoulda perfect human rights record be a condition for U.S. bilateral treaties. I am of the opinion that countries get along better when they do not meddle in each other's internal affairs.


It is for the Cuban people, divorced from America and Americans, to sought out their own human rights issues and it is unfair to maintain sanctions against Cuba for the purpose of democratizing Cuba when ordinary Cubans are suffering. The whole purpose of sanctions against Cuba were in the context of the Cold war, the Cold war has since ended. There is enough robust Cuban intellects to replace Cuban communism with social democracy or something similar to the policies of Italy's Communist Reformation Party or the British Labor Party and do away with principled communism that operates as a binary opposite of capitalism.


Ken Sibanda is an American Constitutional lawyer, known affectively as Tecumseh for his work in film and literature. Including the play "
Hannibal the Great."

 
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