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Parliament adjourned to pay respects to US/Cuba relations

Parliament adjourned to pay respects to US/Cuba relations

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Tue, Dec 23, 2014

Editor: While Alan Gross is celebrating his return back home with his wife, children and close friends, the United States, Cuba and several countries in the world are debating whether or not US President Barack Obama has made the correct move in releasing three convicted spies in exchange for his release, as well as other compromises he made with his Cuban counterpart, Raoul Castro.{{more}}

It seems to me that most persons agree with the historic move by President Obama, but a large number of Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, as well as Cubans who live in Miami and the communist island feel that Obama gave too much and received very little. The critics include a few Cuban born US lawmakers, including two who are possible Republican candidates for the US presidency.

Most of the dissatisfied Cubans are the older ones — there is a generation split on the move… arguing that Castro and the old brigade are still in power and who will continue to rule without holding free and fair elections, and will continue to imprison persons who spoke out against the regime without a fair trial.

However, on the brighter side, both the Cubans and Americans will set up embassies in Washington and Havana. However critics feel that now that the Republicans control the House and the Senate it would be difficult for a US Ambassador to get the nod of the lawmakers who might also block funds for the embassy in Havana.

Americans will now be able to travel to neighbouring Cuba, but with little restriction, since they have to go through agencies who have licences to do so. This situation will improve after the embassies are established and banking and commercial relationships are established.

Both Presidents Obama and Castro made the announcement at noon last week Wednesday and reports from Havana state that church bells were ringing during and after Castro’s speech and there were tears of joys from thousands. It was the first time in more than five decades that a Cuban president has offered good words for a US president, when Castro praised Obama for his action. Both Presidents Obama and Castro also praised Pope Francis for his kind intervention.

Critics feel that the Cuban President did not have a choice to forge a good relationship with the United States, because his country was facing serious economic problems since most of their financial assistance were coming from Russia and Venezuela and both countries are now facing serious economic problems and will soon cut off all assistance.

Meanwhile leaders in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) are extremely happy about the move. Chairman of CARICOM Gaston Browne, who is also the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, has lauded both Obama and Castro, while SVG’s Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves, on hearing the news while in Parliament debating his country’s Budget, adjourned Parliament for the day, describing the event as one “of earth shaking proportions.”

In fact at a meeting of Cuba/Caricom leaders in Havana earlier this month the parties involved in the discussion were optimistic about a Cuba/US trade relationship, but there is still a long way to go before the embargo, placed by the United States on January 21 1962, will be completely removed.

The Organization of American States (OAS) set aside the trade barriers at its 39th General Assembly on June 8, 2009. I was present at that CONFAB, which was held at San Pedro Sula, when the then Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, walked out of the Assembly when she was questioned about the US embargo. She stated that the ban will not cease until there are free and fair elections in Cuba. There is still no freedom of speech, but US prisoners were released last week Wednesday.

We are optimistic that in the very near future, there would be cordial relationships between the two countries.

Oscar Ramjeet

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