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Cuba, die wohl wichtigste Entscheidung von Obama

Cuba: Barack Obama, while repairing an anomaly from another time, has probably made the most emblematic decision of his presidency

 

Salim Lamrani

Opera Mundi

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/salim-lamrani/cuba-barack-obama-while-r_b_6379450.html

 

With the respective release of the American Alan Gross and three Cubans, Havana and Washington have opened a new era of rapprochement.

 

More than half a century after January 3, 1961, when diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States were ruptured, the two governments have announced a process of normalization of bilateral relations. Both Havana and Washington have responded positively to a request from Pope Francis, who urged them to set aside their differences, differences that date from another period, and to restore the links between the US and the Cuban peoples. Contacts between the two sides were facilitated by the Vatican and Canada, both of which offered the two delegations the discretion necessary for a dialog that lasted nearly a year and a half.

 

Exchange of prisoners

 

After months of secret negotiations, Cuba and the United States reached a historic prisoner exchange agreement that opens the door to the full normalization of relations between the two nations. Havana decided to release Alan Gross, a US agent imprisoned since December 2009. For providing material support to various sectors of the Cuban opposition as part of a State Department program intended to bring about regime change on the island, Gross had been sentenced to 15 years in prison. Cuba also released another US agent, Rolando Trujillo Sarraff, who had been incarcerated for almost twenty years, as well as some fifty other prisoners.

 

For its part, Washington released three Cuban agents, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino and Gerardo Hernández. Since 1998, the three had been serving sentences that ranged up to life in prison for having infiltrated small groups of Cuban exiles involved in terrorist attacks against Cuba. The details of this exchange were finalized on December 16, 2014, in a historic 45 minute telephone call between the Cuban and the US presidents, the first such official contact since 1959. With their respective gestures, Raúl Castro and Barack Obama have lifted the main obstacles to the establishment of peaceful relations between the two countries. [1]

 

The end of an outdated and counterproductive policy

 

On December 17, 2014, during a televised speech, President Obama informed the United States and world public opinion of his decision to restore diplomatic relations with Havana, „Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba. [This is] the most significant change in our politics for more than 50 years [2].“

 

The US president made a clear statement about US foreign policy. By continuing to apply cruel and anachronistic measures which date back to the Cold War, measures that affect the most vulnerable sectors of the Cuban population and which, moreover, are counterproductive since the goal of overthrowing the Cuban government has not been achieved, Washington has been unanimously condemned by the international community. „We will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests. We will begin to normalize relations between our two countries,“ said Barack Obama.

 

The United States hostility vis-à-vis Cuba has completely isolated it on the international stage. At the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in October, 2014, for the 23rd consecutive year, 188 countries voted against the sanctions the US imposes on the Cuban population. Similarly, the United States is the only country in the Americas that does not have normal diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba. Latin America, very sensitive to the Cuban question, also expressed its desire to invite the island nation to the next Summit of the Americas meeting in April 2015 in Panama, even threatening to boycott the meeting if Havana is once again excluded.

 

Obama reiterated this fact: „…no other nation joins us in imposing these sanctions [and] neither the American nor the Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that is rooted in events that took place before most of us were born. […] So I decided to put the interests of our two peoples at the heart of our policy. […] After all, the last 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It is time for a new approach.“

 

According to the White House, „US policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from its regional and international partners, constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of tools available to the United States to promote positive change in Cuba [3].“ John Kerry, Secretary of State, shared this view saying that „not only has this policy failed […] it has actually isolated the United States instead of isolating Cuba“ [4].

 

Restoration of dialogue and easing of economic sanctions

 

Washington has decided to restore the diplomatic relations with Cuba it had unilaterally broken off in 1961. Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, will visit the Cuban capital in January 2015 to formalize the opening of an American embassy. Both nations have expressed their willingness to cooperate on issues such as health, immigration, the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking as well as the establishment of a common response to natural disasters. [5] „I look forward to being the first secretary of state in 60 years to visit Cuba,“ Kerry said in a prepared statement. [6]

 

Washington also decided to review its list of the countries it considers to be supporters of international terrorism. Cuba has been included on this list since 1982. In so doing, Obama is responding to the demand of the international community and several American congressmen who consider this inclusion arbitrary at the very moment when Havana’s mediation of the peace process in Colombia is being hailed around the world.

 

The White House has also decided to ease restrictions on travel to Cuba by US citizens. Although ordinary tourist visits remain banned, cultural, religious, academic, scientific, sports and health professionals as well as humanitarian groups will receive favored treatment. Furthermore, Americans will now be able to use their credit cards in Cuba.

 

Additionally, limits on remittances from US citizens to Cuba will increase from 500 to 2000 dollars per quarter and US citizens will be allowed to import goods from Cuba in the amount of 400 dollars. Commercially, the range of exportable products – currently limited to basic food commodities – will be extended to other sectors such as construction equipment, agricultural equipment and telecommunications. In so doing, Washington is responding to a request from US business interests that wish to invest in a natural market that is barely 150 kilometers off the Florida coast.

 

Financial transactions in dollars will be facilitated and US institutions will be permitted to establish relations with Cuba. US entities located abroad may also establish commercial links with the island and conduct financial transactions in dollars. Similarly, the section of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act, which imposes a six-month ban on entry into US territorial waters by any foreign ship traveling to or from Cuba will be removed, if the trade carried out with the island is of a humanitarian nature.

 

President Obama also called on US lawmakers to adopt the necessary measures for the lifting of economic sanctions. Since 1996, only Congress has the power to put an end to the state of siege imposed on Cuba.

 

Reaction of Havana and the international community

 

Cuban President Raúl Castro welcomed the restoration of bilateral relations with the United States, recalling that Cuba had always affirmed its willingness to resolve disputes amicably. „Since my election, I have repeatedly expressed our willingness to support a respectful dialogue, based on sovereign equality with the government of the United States in order to address a wide variety of topics of mutual interest, without prejudice to the national sovereignty and self-determination of our people,“ he said. He also took the opportunity to welcome the decision of President Obama, a decision that „deserves respect and recognition.“ Nevertheless, he recalled that economic sanctions, „causing enormous human damage,“ should be lifted. „We must learn the art of living together with our differences in a civilized manner,“ said President Raúl Castro. [7]

 

The international community has welcomed this historic rapprochement between Cuba and the United States, an accord that puts an end to more than half a century of conflict. The Vatican expressed its „great satisfaction“. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, congratulated both parties and expressed his willingness „to help both countries to develop good neighborly relations“ [8].

 

Latin America has unanimously welcomed this historic moment. Mercosur, through the voice of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, congratulated Washington and Havana for this „fantastic“ news [9]. José Mujica, President of Uruguay, expressed his excitement: „At the Latin American level, this resembles the fall of the Berlin Wall, but from the other side. Throughout the history of mankind, commercial blockades have served only to hurt people but have never resolved anything“[10]. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President of Argentina, paid tribute to „the Cuban people and its government for initiating a process of normalization of relations with the United States with absolute dignity and on an equal footing.“ Meanwhile, Nicolás Maduro, Venezuelan President stressed the „courage“ of Barack Obama. [11]

 

The Organization of American States also expressed to Washington and Havana its satisfaction „for taking this historic step, so necessary and courageous, to restore relationships broken off in 1961“. José Miguel Insulza, secretary general, said that „the measures announced today open a path toward normalization and there will be no turning back.“ He urged the US Congress to adopt the legislation necessary to permanently lift the economic sanctions. [12]

 

By responding to the call of the international community and public opinion in his own country to restore relations with Cuba, President Obama has probably made the most emblematic decision of his two presidential terms and repaired a fault that dates from another time. History will remember him not only as the first black person to reach the highest office in his land, but also as the one who accepted the olive branch proffered by Cuba, an action that paves the way for the establishment of constructive bilateral relations. It is now time for the United States to put an end to an economic siege imposed since 1960, to allow Americans tourists to discover the island, and to accept the reality of a different Cuba – with its virtues and faults – but independent and free to choose its own social model.

 

 

Translated from the French by Larry R. Oberg.

Original source:

http://operamundi.uol.com.br/conteudo/babel/38901/cuba+barack+obama+a+sans+doute+pris+la+decision+la+plus+emblematique+de+ses+deux+mandats+et+a+repare+une+anomalie+dun+autre+temps.shtml

 

“The economic sanctions against Cuba constitute the principal obstacle to the development of the country”

1 Votes
“The economic sanctions against Cuba constitute the principal obstacle to the development of the country”
By Cuba Si France
            CSF: You’ve just published a new book under the title État de siège? What exactly do you cover in it?
            SL: As the book’s subtitle suggests, it covers the unilateral economic sanctions that the United States first imposed upon Cuba at the height of the Cold War. The goal of these sanctions has been the overthrow of the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro, the social and economic reforms of which did not sit well with the Eisenhower administration of the period. More than a half century later the Soviet Union has disappeared and the Cold War is only a fading memory, still the United States persists in maintaining an economic state of siege that is suffocating for all levels of the Cuban population, although it  primarily effects the most vulnerable sectors: women, the elderly and children.
It is important to note that the diplomatic rhetoric used by the United States to justify its hostility towards Cuba has changed from period to period. Early on, it focused on nationalizations and their compensation. Later, Washington invoked the alliance with the  Soviet Union as the principal obstacle to the normalization of relations between the two countries. Then, during the 1970s and 1980s, it cited Cuban intervention in Africa–more precisely in Angola and Namibia. Those interventions, designed to aid the national liberation movements fighting to obtain independence and to support of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, were cited as justification for the maintenance of economic sanctions. Finally, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Washington brandished democracy and human rights as an argument for maintaining its stranglehold on the Cuban nation.
            CSF: What exactly is the impact of these sanctions on the Cuban population?
            SL: The economic sanctions against Cuba constitute the principal obstacle to the development of the country and all sectors of the society are affected by it. It is important to note that the United States, for evident historical and geographic reasons, has always been Cuba’s natural market. The distance separating the two countries is less than 150 km. In 1959, 73% of all Cuban exports were destined for the U.S. market and 70% of its imports came from the States. There was, therefore, a significant dependance upon Cuba’s northern neighbor. Between 1960 and 1991, relations with the USSR had softened the sanctions, but this is no longer the case.
Thus practically, Cuba is unable to sell anything to the United States, which remains the world’s primary market. Nor can it buy anything from it other than, and since 2000 only, a few primary agricultural products that it is forced to purchase under severe restrictions, for example, Cuba is required to pay in advance in a currency other than the U.S. dollar–something that forces Cuba to shoulder the additional costs engendered by the exchange rates–all of this without the possibility of contracting a loan. This limits enormously the island’s commercial possibilities, forcing it to pay a much higher price to a third country.
            CSF: You also emphasize the effects of the extraterritorial economic sanctions.
            SL: Indeed, since 1992 and the adoption of the Torricelli Act, these sanctions apply equally to third countries that might wish to trade with Cuba. This constitutes a serious violation of international law which prohibits any national legislation from being extraterritorial, that is to say, from being applied outside of national boundaries. For example, French law cannot be applied in Spain and Italian law cannot be applied in France. Nonetheless, United States economic sanctions remain applicable to all countries that trade with Cuba.
Thus, any foreign ship that docks in a Cuban port finds itself forbidden to enter U.S. ports for a period of six months. Cuba, being an island, is heavily dependent upon maritime transport. Of the commercial fleets that operate in the Florida Straits, most conduct the bulk of their activities with a clear understanding of the importance of this market and do not run the risk of transporting merchandise to Cuba. When they do, however, they demand a higher tariff than that applied to neighboring countries, such as Haiti or the Dominican Republic, this in order to make up for the shortfall that results from being banned from U.S. ports for having done so. Therefore, if the standard price for transporting merchandise to the Dominican Republic is 100, this figure that can rise to 600 or 700 for Cuba.
            CSF: You also comment on the retroactive nature of the economic sanctions.
            SL: Since the adoption of the Helms-Burton Act in 1996, all foreign enterprises that wish to invest in Cuban property that had been nationalized in 1959, risk prosecution in the United States and seeing its U.S. investments frozen. This law is a judicial aberration because it is both extraterritorial and retroactive–in other words, it applies to events that occurred before the law was adopted, something that is contrary to international law. Take the case of the anti-tobacco law in France. This law was promulgated on January 1, 2008. But if you smoked in a restaurant on December 31, 2007, you would not be prosecuted, because the law cannot be applied retroactively. The Helms-Burton Act applies to events that occurred during the 1960s, something that is clearly illegal.
            CSF: The United States maintains that the economic sanctions are a simple bilateral question that does not concern the rest of the world.
            SL: The example that I have already cited demonstrate the exact opposite. I’ll give you another. In order to sell on the U.S. market, a German, Korean, or Japanese automobile manufacturer–in reality the nationality matters little–is obliged to demonstrate to the U.S. Treasury Department that its products do not contain a single gram of Cuban nickel. It is the same for all of the agribusiness enterprises that wish to invest in the U.S. market. Danone, for example, must demonstrate that its products contain absolutely no Cuban raw materials. Cuba cannot sell its natural resources and its products to the United States, but in these exact cases, neither can it sell them to Germany, Korea or Japan. These measures deprive the Cuban economy of much needed capital and Cuban exports of many markets around the world.
            CSF: The economic sanctions have also had an impact on healthcare.
            SL: Indeed, nearly 80% of all patents applied for in the medical sector belong to U.S. based multinational pharmaceutical companies and their subsidiaries, which puts them in the position of being a quasi-monopoly. It should be noted that international humanitarian law forbids all restrictions on the freedom of movement of foodstuffs and medicines, even during wartime. And officially, the United States is not at war with Cuba.
Here is a clear example: Cuban children could benefit from the Amplatzer septal occluder, a cardiac plug manufactured in the United States, that allows one to bypass open heart surgery. Dozens of children are waiting for this operation. In 2010 alone, four were added to this list: Maria Fernanda Vidal, five years old; Cyntia Soto Aponte, three years old; Mayuli Pérez Ulboa, eight years old, and Lianet D. Alvarez, five years old.
Are these children responsible for the differences that exist between Havana and Washington? No! But they are paying the price.
            CSF: In your book, you also talk about the irrational nature of certain restrictions.
            SL: Indeed, it should be noted that since 2004 and the strict application of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) rules, any American tourist that smoked a Cuban cigar or consumed a glass of Havana Club rum during a trip abroad risks a fine of a million dollars and ten in years in prison. Another example: a Cuban living in France theoretically cannot eat a hamburger at a McDonald’s. Of course, these measures are irrational because they are unenforceable. The United States does not have the material and human resources to put a U.S. agent on the trail of each tourist. Nonetheless, it illustrates the United States’ obsessive desire to economically strangle the Cubans.
            CSF: Your book contains a prolog by Wayne S. Smith and a preface by Paul Estrade, both well known Cuban specialists, but no doubt without a large audience. Remind us of who they are.
            SL: Wayne S. Smith is a former U.S. diplomat and currently a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC. He was the last American diplomat with the rank of ambassador to be posted in Cuba, this between 1979 and 1982. Under the government of Jimmy Carter, he distinguished himself through his politics of dialog and rapprochement with Havana. He is a partisan of normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States and his preface takes stock of the anachronistic, cruel and ineffectual nature of these economic sanctions.
As for Paul Estrade, he is a professor emeritus at the University of Paris VIII and, without a doubt, the best Cuban specialist in France. His works on Cuban issues are standard references in the academic world. In his preface, he points to the way in which the state of siege against Cuba is voluntarily obscured by the medias when they report on the economic difficulties of this country.
A new book by Salim Lamrani
État de siège; les sanctions économiques des États-Unis contre Cuba (State of Siege; The United States’ economic sanctions against Cuba).
Prologue by Wayne S. Smith, preface by Paul Estrade.
Paris, Editions Estrella, 2011. 15 euros.
Translated by Larry R. Oberg, Québec City, Québec.

“The economic sanctions against Cuba constitute the principal obstacle to the development of the country”

“The economic sanctions against Cuba constitute the principal obstacle to the development of the country”
By Cuba Si France
            CSF: You’ve just published a new book under the title État de siège? What exactly do you cover in it?
            SL: As the book’s subtitle suggests, it covers the unilateral economic sanctions that the United States first imposed upon Cuba at the height of the Cold War. The goal of these sanctions has been the overthrow of the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro, the social and economic reforms of which did not sit well with the Eisenhower administration of the period. More than a half century later the Soviet Union has disappeared and the Cold War is only a fading memory, still the United States persists in maintaining an economic state of siege that is suffocating for all levels of the Cuban population, although it  primarily effects the most vulnerable sectors: women, the elderly and children.
It is important to note that the diplomatic rhetoric used by the United States to justify its hostility towards Cuba has changed from period to period. Early on, it focused on nationalizations and their compensation. Later, Washington invoked the alliance with the  Soviet Union as the principal obstacle to the normalization of relations between the two countries. Then, during the 1970s and 1980s, it cited Cuban intervention in Africa–more precisely in Angola and Namibia. Those interventions, designed to aid the national liberation movements fighting to obtain independence and to support of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, were cited as justification for the maintenance of economic sanctions. Finally, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Washington brandished democracy and human rights as an argument for maintaining its stranglehold on the Cuban nation.
            CSF: What exactly is the impact of these sanctions on the Cuban population?
Kategorien:Geo Politik Schlagwörter: ,
  1. navy
    Januar 1, 2015 um 7:06 pm

    Cuba ist das nächste Opfer der US Betrüger

    ICITAP first began providing the CIA with «official cover» to infiltrate foreign police agencies in 1990 when it began its first operations in Panama after the U.S. military invasion. These operations were then expanded to Rwanda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Georgia, the Eastern Slavonia province of Croatia, Serbia, Armenia, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Macedonia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Albania, Liberia, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, South Africa, and Iraq. ICITAP and CIA operations were closely linked in counter-narcotics/insurgency operations in Bolivia, Costa Rica, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Belize, Haiti, and Panama.

    http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2014/12/30/us-citizens-continue-to-infiltrate-eastern-european-governments.html

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