Will the Pope's visit affect how two countries deal with each other?
January 28, 1998
in this forum:
Will the Pope's visit amount to any significant change in either U.S. policy or political and religious freedoms within Cuba? What will happen if Castro opens Cuba up to the West? Why has the U.S. abandoned the policy of engagement in our own backyard? Is there any way to allow medicine into Cuba without changing the political goals of the embargo?
November 24, 1997:
The life and times of Cuban-American exile Jorge Mas Canosa.
October 16, 1997:
Thirty-five years later, the Cuban Missile Crisis is viewed as one of the "hottest" moments of the Cold War.
July 11, 1997:
The fight over the Helms-Burton Act and the embargo on Cuba.
March 5, 1997:
Sec. of State Warren Christopher discusses U.S. foreign policy regarding Cuba
Browse The NewsHour's Latin America Index.
Stephane Carret of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, asks:
How does the U.S. government hope to overcome the mutual bitterness that still lingers between a Cuban people sick of centuries of subjugation and colonization and the acknowledged leader of free enterprise whose corporate properties had been nationalized? Can the U.S. enter the economic and political fray in Cuba without appearing as the big bully from up north, both to the Cuban people and to Cuba's other trading partner?
Cuban Ambassador Fernando Remirec answers:
I don't think I should answer on behalf of the U.S. government; perhaps you should ask them that question -- although I would like to tell you that you will never face any offensive or sour feeling against the American people from the Cuban people. There are lots of things in common between the two peoples. We can distinguish peoples from politicians.
About the nationalizations you mention in your question, I would like to tell you that American courts recognized the legality of the process of nationalizations undertaken by our government in perfect accordance with international standards and law in 1974. The very same piece of legislation set the ways in which U.S. enterprises -whose properties had been expropriated- would be compensated. It was not us, but the establishment of the U.S. blockade what prevented U.S. companies from receiving their compensation. Cuba was able to create compensation agreements and stick to them with the rest of the countries whose properties were also nationalized under the same circumstances and we have already complied with those payments, except in one case (Spain), which we are still paying.
For us, the United States of America is another country of this world and it is our interest to keep political and economic links just like we do with the rest of the nations. We do not intend to establish preferences or discrimination and we take to our heart the principle of respect for the contracts signed with our commercial partners.
Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, (R-Florida), answers:
The Cuban people are not bitter toward the United States, just as the American people are not bitter toward Cuba. Both the Cuban people and the American people want the Cuban people to be free.
Remember that it was the U.S. which came to the assistance of the Cuban people to accelerate the end of their war of independence against Spanish colonialism one-hundred years ago.
Similarly, today it is the U.S. that prohibits its own businesses from profiting from the total lack of labor rights that Castro's system has imposed upon his people. The Cuban people resent foreign capitalists who take advantage of Castro's slave economy and split profits with the Cuban dictator. Not having profited from Castro's slave economy because of the U.S. embargo, many U.S. businesses will likely enjoy the good will of the Cuban people once Cuba is free.
Riordan Roett, director of Latin American studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, answers:
In my visits to Cuba I detected no animosity towards the American people. Lots of criticism of the U.S. government and its policy. But the average Cuban admires American capitalism and the American way of life. Many thousands would like to move to the USA but cannot. Following the cancellation of the U.S. embargo, which is widely abhored around the world, there will be a period of adjustment between the two nations but in a short time normal and amicable relations, people to people, will be easily established.
History always plays a role in a nation's perpcetion of its neighbors. That is a fact. But an intelligent U.S. policy of adjustment following the collapse of the embargo and after the demise of Fidel Castro, can go a long way in normalizing relations.