The US-Cuban salsa

The US-Cuban salsa

On August 14 US Secretary of State John Kerry is going to Cuba. Six months ago Havana and Washington announced their intention to restore diplomatic relations, broken off in 1961, but experts say there is still a long way before the normalization of relations.

An expert of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, Eduard Beliy, believes that disputes between the US and Cuba will be solved over time: "The Cubans, as well as the Vietnamese and Chinese, can perceive a market economy, but revolutionary ideas were absorbed by them for decades."

According to the expert, Cuba, just like China and Vietnam, can live by the scheme 'one country, two policies'. "One in the field of the economy, and the other in the field of ideology, which remains under the unchanged, rigid and strict control of the Communist Party in all three of those countries. In Cuba, most likely, such an option is the most probable one, and not the death of the revolution. Those who did not accept the revolution voted with their legs. Almost 10% of the population emigrated from Cuba by different means. They formed a Cuban diaspora, which is the third most influential in the United States."

Eduard Beliy believes that the market economy in Cuba, one way or another, will develop. He rejected the idea that after the restoration of diplomatic relations with the United States 'color revolutions' or a 'Maidan' will begin on the Island of Freedom: "My experience in dealing with Cubans in Cuba, and here in Russia, is generally quite significant, and indicates that such things are absolutely impossible in Cuba. A slow, long-term kind of evolution is possible there."

However, as the Director of the International Institute of Newest States, Alexey Martynov believes, the United States will surely export to Cuba their favorite technologies with various funds: "Please note that, in spite of all the prohibitions, one of the first favors of the US is unblocking the supply of telecommunications equipment to Cuba. On the one hand, this seems to be progress. On the other hand, of course, they also need Internet access and phones to somehow use their technologies."

In the early 1960s the US imposed sanctions against Cuba, which later grew into a full trade embargo. American citizens and companies were prohibited from carrying out any operations with Havana; Cuban exports and ships, which docked at the port of the island, came under attack. Even the amount of money which American tourists could spend in Cuba was regulated.

According to Eduard Beliy, the lifting of sanctions is one of the most difficult issues: "But I am absolutely convinced that they will agree on this issue. The Americans, though they seem to be for principles and are stubborn, they always understand that it is better to give up a little bit and get more. Especially since many of the owners who suffered got insurance for their own expropriated businesses and assets in the US, so to speak. A fairly well-developed system of insurance works there against such risks too. It is the only difficult spot in their relations, because they did everything else in salsa style, very quickly." The expert assures that "The Cubans are very practical people, and of the entire socialist camp, let me remind you, are the most independent in their policy. In domestic, of course, but also in foreign policy. The Cubans have always maintained their own line of relations with other countries, in contrast to other countries of the socialist camp."

However, Alexey Martynov wonders how Cuba survived in the absence of relations with the major regional power, the United States, for more than 50 years. It is clear that there was the Soviet Union, but 25 years have passed since the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, it has happened just now. And in this sense, Cuba had a certain margin of safety, including ideological. I think that the Cubans in this case are guided by purely pragmatic considerations. It is impossible to develop in the region, in the place where Cuba is, without having relations with the major regional power." As for the US, according to expert, for it Cuba has always been a question of principle. "It was Cuba that became the door through which Russia entered Latin America. The United States, of course, will not close the door, but they would like to cover it as much as possible. They are annoyed by our active presence in the major Latin American countries, which the United States believes to be its backyard. In the Anglo-Saxon political logic there is some kind of mirror. If Russia went to Latin America, to our backyard, then we'll go to the CIS, Ukraine and beyond," Martynov believes.

Unlike Eduard Beliy, Alexei Martynov claims that the US-Cuban issue is not going to be solved easily: there are a lot of problems. Problems, and there is a whole package of laws operating in the United States that block the Cuban economy, and which cannot be cancelled in a day, or in a month, even in a year, I think, cannot be cancelled. If Obama would suddenly need to ease these relations now, he will not be able to agree with Congress. This is a very long event in itself, these procedures for conciliation, plus they will ask for such a price that he cannot pay. And I do not think that US-Cuban relations will change instantly. Or that something in the lives of ordinary Cubans will change fundamentally... On the one hand, a new interesting life awaits Cubans, from which they have already been weaned over the 50 years, living in a somewhat different reality. On the other hand, of course, new challenges await them, a test of the regime's strength, of the state's strength. And this is the meaning, perhaps."

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