What Cuba Will Gain and Lose In Relations with US

24 December 2014 | 17:13 Code : 1942257 Interview General category
An interview with Masood Edrisi, Iran’s former ambassador to Cuba
What Cuba Will Gain and Lose In Relations with US

What are the consequences of the establishment of relations between the US and Cuba for both countries?

Immediately after the victory of the Marxist revolution in Cuba, the US imposed sanctions against Cuba. During these years, these sanctions have damaged the Cuban government. According to statements made by Cuban officials, the sanctions have, hitherto, caused 117 billion dollars of damage to Cuba’s economy. Of course, the US has also been damaged by these sanctions. Cuba is the southern neighbor of the US. Prior to the victory of the revolution in Cuba, this country was under US control. But the US lost its control after this development. Nonetheless, following the coming to power of Raul Castro and also the Obama administration, both countries reached the conclusion that hostility and enmity is not the right solution and will not lead anywhere. That is why certain economic and social reforms have taken place in Cuba by Raul Castro including the freedom to purchase automobiles, freedom of the private sector and freedom to buy houses. These were the green lights shown by Raul Castro’s government to the Obama administration. Obama also reached the conclusion that although the sanctions have damaged the economy of Cuba, they would not lead to the collapse of this regime. Therefore, Obama stated in his speech that this policy has almost failed and the embassies must be reopened.

The establishment of relations between Cuba and the US will certainly have consequences for both countries. Right now many Cubans live in the US, some of whom oppose the current Cuban government and are members of the US Congress. The continuation and intensification of the sanctions are to the benefit of this group. Naturally, these people are against Obama’s policies and will attempt to prevent the lifting of sanctions through the Congress and exert pressures on the Obama administration. Thus, Obama will be faced with problems. Cuba’s sanctions will gradually be lifted. The complete lifting of sanctions will not be possible and the trend of the lifting of certain sanctions needs the approval of the Congress. Meanwhile, some of the representatives will attempt to prevent this trend. In Cuba, the people and the government welcome the new policy and are happy with it. They want the establishment of relations between the US and Cuba to be accelerated.

If the Cuban government intends to normalize relations with the US, it must take certain measures in line with US demands. The economy of the Cuban government is completely based on a Marxist economy and this needs to be changed to a free market economy. If these developments take place rapidly, there will be negative consequences and probably social unrests. Furthermore, the government needs to find a solution for the freedom of numerous political prisoners in Cuba. These are the negative consequences of the establishment of relations between the US and Cuba. But it seems in general that although both sides will benefit from this development, the Cuban government will gain more. Also, the US show of strength which has imposed sanctions against Cuba for more than fifty years will be broken not only in this country but also in all of Latin America. Venezuela is also faced with US sanctions and they could hope that their sanctions would also be lifted following the lifting of the US sanctions against Cuba. In general, the people of Latin America who opposed the US policies regarding Cuba will have hopes for the stability of the Cuban government and regional supports of this regime in Latin America and for a better future for this country.

To what extent is the measure taken by the government of Raul Castro in line with the improvement of the political atmosphere against the domestic opposition?

Naturally, reaching an understanding with the US would impact the atmosphere of domestic policies. This understanding will also affect the thinking process in this country. The government of Cuba has to find solutions for the political prisoners or political freedoms in this country and must fulfill certain demands made by the US for the normalization of relations. The Cuban government must open the political atmosphere and gradually free the political prisoners. These will be the results of the establishment of relations with the US.

Cuba has always been introduced as the symbol of socialist systems in Latin America. Could the establishment of relations with the US be construed as the end of this era and the elimination of socialist governments in Latin America?

I believe that the establishment of relations between Cuba and the US could be considered as a victory for these viewpoints. Latin American countries have always supported Cuba for its stance regarding the US. Following these new developments, the countries of Latin America would assume that they will be able to gain concessions from the US if they resist the US’ demands. This will be considered as a victory.

tags: cuba US castro obama