FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Obama’s Cuban Gesture

Last November’s mid-term electoral defeat for the Democratic Party seems to have reinvigorated President Barack Obama. He was triumphantly elected in 2008 and had a comfortable Congressional majority in his first two years, but all he produced was a modest reform of the healthcare system, plus homilies urging compromise on Republican politicians determined to destroy him (1). Since the Democrats’ crushing defeat, Obama has been making bold decisions as his political career winds down: a decision to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, announced after an important climate agreement with China, and an amnesty for 5 million illegal immigrants in the US. Perhaps, to enable sensible decisions, US democracy requires a president with no fanatical senators to manage or wealthy lobbies to bribe.

An end to the embargo that John F Kennedy imposed on Cuba in 1962 would rectify a violation of international law so indefensible that every state except Israel condemns the US stance each year (2). These states have probably grasped that, beyond the virtuous justifications claimed by the US (human rights and freedom of conscience, as respected by the US’s Saudi allies and at Guantanamo), the embargo was a way for the US to vent its frustration. Not 100 miles from Florida, a small country has long defied the US empire. In this battle for dignity and sovereignty, David has ultimately beaten Goliath.

But what condition is it in? Though the US embargo has not achieved its objective of regime change in Cuba, the Cuban model that it was intended to contain has been annihilated. “It no longer works even for us,” Fidel Castro admitted in 2010, speaking in support of his brother Raúl’s “liberal” reforms. After the breakup of the Soviet bloc, on which Cuba depended, Cubans’ buying power collapsed. Most only survive in a broken economy through frugality and a strong instinct for getting by (3). For the moment, liberalisation in Cuba means allowing employees, most of them former civil servants, to become the owners of the small businesses that employ them.

Obama, justifying his historic decision, immediately welcomed by big US companies keen to develop their business in Cuba (including American Airlines, Hilton and PepsiCo), said: “It does not serve America’s interests, or the Cuban people, to try to push Cuba toward collapse. Even if that worked — and it hasn’t for 50 years — we know from hard-earned experience that countries are more likely to enjoy lasting transformation if their people are not subjected to chaos.” Could the US, Germany, the UK and France apply the same lesson to Russia, without waiting 50 years?

Serge Halimi is president of Le Monde Diplomatique.

This article appears in the excellent Le Monde Diplomatique, whose English language edition can be found at mondediplo.com. This full text appears by agreement with Le Monde Diplomatique. CounterPunch features two or three articles from LMD every month.

More articles by:

Serge Halimi is president of Le Monde diplomatique

December 13, 2018
John Davis
What World Do We Seek?
Subhankar Banerjee
Biological Annihilation: a Planet in Loss Mode
Lawrence Davidson
What the Attack on Marc Lamont Hill Tells Us
James McEnteer
Breathless
Ramzy Baroud
The Real Face of Justin Trudeau: Are Palestinians Canada’s new Jews?
Dean Baker
Pelosi Would Sabotage the Progressive Agenda With a Pay-Go Rule
Elliot Sperber
Understanding the Yellow Vests Movement Through Basic Color Theory 
Rivera Sun
The End of the NRA? Business Magazines Tell Activists: The Strategy is Working
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Historic Opportunity to Transform Trade
December 12, 2018
Arshad Khan
War, Anniversaries and Lessons Never Learned
Paul Street
Blacking Out the Yellow Vests on Cable News: Corporate Media Doing its Job
Kenneth Surin
The Brexit Shambles Rambles On
David Schultz
Stacking the Deck Against Democracy in Wisconsin
Steve Early
The Housing Affordability Crisis and What Millennials Can do About It
George Ochenski
Collaboration Failure: Trump Trashes Sage Grouse Protections
Rob Seimetz
Bringing a Life Into a Dying World: A Letter From a Father to His Unborn Son
Michael Howard
PETA and the ‘S’-Word
John Kendall Hawkins
Good Panopt, Bad Panopt: Does It Make A Difference?
Kim C. Domenico
Redeeming Utopia: a Meditation On An Essay by Ursula LeGuin
Binoy Kampmark
Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
Democratizing Money
Laura Finley
Congress Must Reauthorize VAWA
December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail