Cuba: Economic Progress or Pandora’s Box?

There is no doubt that the American public is in favor of President Obama’s planned restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba. According to Reid J. Epstein’s article for the Wall Street Journal titled, “Majority of Americans Back Obama on Cuba, Immigration — WSJ/NBC Poll,” as many as 60% of those who were polled reported approval of the President’s plan to rebuild relations with Cuba (http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2015/01/20/majority-of-americans-back-obama-on-cuba-immigration-wsjnbc-poll/?KEYWORDS=cuba). This approval extends throughout regional, age, and racial demographics.

According to The National Security Council’s article by Bernadette Meehan titled “What They’re Saying: How a New Course on Cuba Can Help American Agriculture and Trade,” “By empowering the Cuban people to gain greater economic independence, these steps will promote commercial diplomacy and create economic opportunities for hardworking Americans here at home” (http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/12/19/what-theyre-saying-how-new-course-cuba-can-help-american-agriculture-and-trade). The article continues to list a number of headlines ran in varying states with specific reasons constituents should favor this diplomacy. Reasons listed include increased exports to Cuba from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas.

According to David Adams’ article for Reuters entitled “Cubans look fondly to U.S. as talks to resume relations start,” Cubans, including those as high up as Council of State members for the Cuban Communist Party, admire North American culture (http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/21/us-cuba-usa-mood-idUSKBN0KU1ZX20150121). Cubans are also looking forward to the end of the U.S. trade embargo that has “caused well over $100 billion in damages over the decades.”

It is clear that Cuba will benefit more and feels more desperation regarding this restoration of diplomacy. Cubans are living in the past, in the dark, and in economic isolation. The lifting of the U.S. trade embargo gives the Cuban economy the chance to get back on track with the rest of the world’s economies. But when, as Adams puts it, Castro has made his intent clear “to preserve one-party rule and keep a lid on political dissent,” how will this change take effect? The Council of State member previously mentioned, a poet and anthropologist named Miguel Barnet explains that Cuba’s identity has been formed by definition as one that values independence over all. Will the United States be able to maintain diplomatic trade relations with a country whose political ideologies we inherently disapprove of? The United States has a history of sticking its nose in policy and government when we believe we can do it better. In Adams’ article, Barnet urges the United States government to “not try to pressure the country into reforms.” Will this be possible for the Obama administration? Further research should be conducted in this area to determine for sure.

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