Cuba and the U.S: Normalization of Relations (?)

A month ago, the world watched in awe as the United States took steps towards  normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba. Already, President Barack Obama has eased restrictions on remittances sent by Cuban families in the United States to their relatives in Cuba. In addition, talks between Obama’s and Cuban President Raul Castro’s governments have been ongoing and promising in themselves, considering that the two states have been estranged for half a century. To the skeptics who thought that the chain of events was too good to be true: you just might have been right. In a recent speech (see BBC article linked below), Raul Castro described his government’s conditions for normalized diplomatic relations with the U.S. Among these: the lifting of the trade embargo by the United States (reasonable); removal of Cuba from the U.S. terrorist list (a bit more difficult); and the return of Guantanamo Bay to Cuba (unlikely). Currently, the land is used by the United States as a military base, and Castro has expressed that Cuba will not have diplomatic relations with the U.S. while the land is “illegally occupied.” The problem? The United States has occupied the land since 1903, using it to incarcerate its most notorious criminals and enemies. It is doubtful that the U.S. will simply agree to the demand; at the same time, the Castro’s are not known for their flexibility. While the United States has yet to comment on Castro’s speech, it is fair to say that we are now witnessing the first major hitch in the warming of U.S-Cuba relations.


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