Will the long thaw yield a new movement?
By David P. Rowe
John Kerry, the American Secretary of State visited Cuba on Friday, with the main objective to officially reopen the United States Embassy in Havana.
The Kerry trip is the most significant trip to Cuba from a senior American official in a half century.
It’s not without controversy, of course.
The State Department has expressed “deep concern” about Cuba’s most recent “crackdown” on civil liberties. Indeed, Cuban students still in large part lack access to Facebook and Twitter. The internet is not considered a “civil right” in Cuba.
But things are changing.
Under the new relationship, Cuba will allow US diplomats to travel without restriction on the island, and correspondingly the US State department gave Cuba a good grade in its recent human trafficking report.
But there remains a major hurdle: the US Embargo.
It is unlikely that the US Republican Majority in Congress will lift the trade embargo in Cuba, the main section holding back, among other things, Cuba’s agricultural exports. But economic pressure will likely change that. And sooner rather than later.
President Obama and most of Cuba’s Caribbean neighbors clearly would like the embargo lifted in order to enhance Cuba’s economics circumstances.
The United Nations has frequently denounced the embargo, as have many nations, particularly those in the hemisphere.
What will the normalizing of Cuba entail? Will it destroy its tourism competitors? Will the Castro regime in Cuba allow the independent political activities of dissidents? Will the Communist Party in Cuba allow other political parties to contest elections? Will books critical of Fidel Castro be permitted in schools? Will an influx of technology radically change Cuba and its economy?
And this just might be the biggest question: what impact will US tourism have on the island?
The trade embargo imposed by President Eisenhower fifty four years ago is no longer relevant or practical.
On balance, Its removal should yield to full business relations between Cuba and The U.S.
The end result will likely be this: a massive influx of US visitors will modernize Cuba in a way that no other movement can.
David P Rowe is an attorney in Florida and Jamaica and an adjunct professor of law at the University of Miami School of Law.
Note: the opinions expressed in Cuba Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Cuba Journal.