Despite the change in Whitehouse, the old rhetoric still haunts US-Cuba relations

While it was known President Biden would not tread the path left by Obama, equally anticipated was the fact that moving away from the Trump era sanctions and towards a policy of rapprochement would take time. But no one in the wild wilderness has ever imagined that things would go so wrong, so quickly.

Almost five months after his arrival in the White House, not a single one of the 240 measures to intensify the embargo adopted by Trump has been lifted. The rebukes from Washington Due to the human rights situation on the island, they are on the rise, and the new Administration has just said that Havana does not fully collaborate with Washington in the fight against terrorism, so it will remain on its blacklist. The reaction of the Cuban Foreign Ministry was immediate: “This is a totally unfounded accusation and used for political purposes, which tries to justify the aggression against Cuba, including the inhumane economic, commercial and financial blockade suffered by our people.” Little remains of the initial expectations. Day by day we return to the bitter rhetoric of the Trump era, and Obama’s normalization is no longer talked about: for Cuba, Biden is the present and the past.

In recent weeks, diplomatic squabbles between the two countries have multiplied. On May 4, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during the 51st Conference of the Council of the Americas that his country “will condemn the repression of human rights on the island” and will defend “the human rights of the Cuban people. , including the right to freedom of expression and assembly ”. The Cuban Minister of Foreign Relations, Bruno Rodríguez, responded hours later: “If Secretary Blinken were interested in the human rights of Cubans, he would lift the blockade and the 243 measures applied by the previous Government, in force today in the midst of the covid- 19. It would reestablish consular services and family reunification ”.

Last week, as a result of the hunger strike of the dissident artist and activist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, his transfer by force to a hospital in Havana – where he has been admitted and isolated for almost four weeks – and the subsequent arrest of the opposition rapper Maykel Osorbo, State Department Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Julie ChungHe said that the United States rejected “the detention of artists for exercising their freedom of expression.” “The Cuban government cannot silence its critics by violating their human rights,” added the official, calling for the “immediate release” of the two members of the so-called San Isidro Movement. This time, the US Deputy Director General of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, Johana Tablada, responded, considering Chung’s pronouncement “openly demagogic and interfering” and a “simulacrum of concern for human rights, while hiding the true purposes of the US Government.” “The United States is not concerned with the people of Cuba and it is not even concerned with those Cuban citizens whom it systematically finances,

To make matters worse, this week Washington designated Cuba, along with Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela, among the countries that “do not cooperate” at all in its “anti-terrorism efforts”, which would justify keeping the island in its place. list of states sponsors of terrorism, in which Trump included it nine days before leaving the White House, a final sanction with the aim of hindering any possible approach to Havana. “The calumny and that [the Biden Administration] applies Trump’s policy is surprising and annoyed,” Rodríguez countered.

The American academic William Leogrande recalls that Joe Biden supported Obama’s opening to Cuba when he was his vice president and promised during the 2020 campaign to resume the commitment . “But the first signs from Administration officials indicate that an internal debate is taking place between those who are in favor of returning to the Obama policy, and those who would continue with the policy of pressure, leaving many of the Trump sanctions. instead, “he says in a recent work.

In recent months, several congressmen and senators from both parties have registered various legislative initiatives, for and against, easing the embargo. Lobbying is growing, and key to it is the position of important Democratic Senator Bob Menéndez, chairman of the Upper House Foreign Relations Committee, committed to a hard line towards Cuba. In recent days, Menéndez and Republican Senator Marco Rubio – who acted as Trump’s pillar in his sanctions policy against the island – presented a proposal to prohibit the US courts from recognizing rights to a person or a company over a trademark that it has been “confiscated by the Cuban regime.” One more line to the tiger. At the time,

The debate on what Biden should do in relation to Cuba is open in the US Prestigious think tanks , such as the Council for Democracy in the Americas (CDA), the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) or the Cuba Study Group (CSG ) have asked the new Administration in various documents to give priority to the Cuban issue and reestablish Obama’s policy of rapprochement and critical engagement. But at the moment nothing. In the difficult game of balances of power in Washington, Leogrande observes, “it is possible that internal political benefits will be obtained if the status quo is maintained.“, But this will not produce anything” positive “in foreign policy, he says. “An effective policy toward Cuba requires a realistic mindset that recognizes, once and for all, Washington’s inability to impose its will on Cuba. Policy makers must abandon the illusion that sanctions will bring victory, and go to work with a regime that we may not like, but that is not going to disappear anytime soon. ” The other thing is to continue with the same pressure policy of 60 years ago that has proven its failure and fuels the psychology of the besieged plaza in the Cuban government. And in the middle, as always, ordinary Cubans are the losers.

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