Editorial: Giving diplomacy a chance in Cuba


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This weekend at the Summit of Americas in Panama City, Panama, President Obama has made an historic attempt to reconnect ties with Cuba.

Obama and the leader of Cuba, Raul Castro, held the first legitimate talks between the two countries in more than five decades. Remnants of Cold War hostilities have made the relationship between Cuba and the United States tumultuous and eventually nonexistent with the severance of all diplomatic ties in 1961.

The trade embargos, travel restrictions, and identification as a state that sponsors terror were necessary provisions at the time of the Cold War. A significantly strained relationship with Cuba amid the larger fears of communism and impending conflict dominated the conversation with understandable diplomatic implications. However, more than 50 years have passed since then, and that more than dictates a reconsideration of the current policies regarding U.S interactions with Cuba.

Obama’s decision to rekindle diplomatic conversations with Cuba is one that has the potential to benefit both countries. Initial reports of the meeting indicate a mutual respect and genuine interest in reforming the relationship between Cuba and the United States. While no definitive agreements or conclusions were made, the meeting between Obama and Castro is a milestone event in the rebuilding of relations between the two countries.

There are a litany of benefits for reconsidering and improving the relationship with Cuba, most notably the potential in increased national profit from trade. The trade restrictions against Cuba cost the United States $1.2 billion per year in lost sales and exports, a result of events that have taken place more than 50 years ago.

A renewed friendship would entail profitable business opportunities for those in the agriculture exportation and other related industries given Cuba’s limited farming ability. Even if a viable business relationship is not an option in the immediate future, discussions now will help to cement the roads necessary for money and goods to be exchanged in the future.

As important as this meeting between the president and Castro in terms of progressing diplomatic relations, the conversations should be held in earnest and not with the aim of rushing into a potentially ill-fated relationship built on a poorly established foundation.

While the arguably draconian policies currently in place with Cuba certainly deserve rethinking, it cannot be ignored that they were put in place for a reason. Time supposedly heals all wounds, but that logic is not one that can provide the holistic basis for a complete rethinking of the precarious diplomatic relationship with Cuba.

A renewed arrangement with Cuba and the United State will only work if both sides are open to displaying and addressing each other’s grievances. Obama’s willingness to have this conversation demonstrates a belief that it is possible to bridge the divide between Cuba and the United States, but this task will require considerable time and patience on both sides.   

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