Wednesday, April 22, 2009

"Diplomacy" with dictators

Just a few days ago, there was a frenzy of interest surrounding Cuba as it seemed that relations between the U.S. and Cuba were going to "thaw". This was after Obama eliminated family travel restrictions to the Island and Raul responded by saying they were open to talking about "everything" with the U.S.

It seems Obama’s new approach to diplomacy of “sitting at the table” with everyone is not as easy as he thought.

An AP article reports today that Fidel Castro said that Obama “misinterpreted” his younger brother. According to AP’s Will Weissert, “The former president appeared to be throwing a dose of cold water on growing expectations for improved bilateral relations - suggesting Obama had no right to dare suggest that Cuba make even small concessions.”

I guess it’s all about learning the hard way for Obama, and listening to others with experience who warn about getting warm and fuzzy with authoritarian rulers. You can’t negotiate with the Cuban dictators because they abide by no rules, since they haven’t been elected to their positions or have a state of law that governs their country and their international relations.

Read the whole article here.

12 comments:

Edlyn said...

Why is this so surprising? After years of very little reform on either side of the Florida straits, did we assume that movements toward change on the part of U.S. would automatically spark the same interest on the island? After years of denying the very existence of political prisoners, did we really think that Raul was going to have a heart to heart with Obama about them? I’d like to be optimistic and hope that the communist leaders of Cuba would one day change their tune and care about reforming the government as well as the crumbling infrastructure. Yet, these actions do not faze me – just like CANF and the U.S. government, every player in this conversation stops right before change. No one wants to be the first to reveal their cards. Perhaps they are sticking to the old adage, mejor malo conocido que bueno por conoce?

Gladisley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laura "Cubanita in DC" Rodriguez said...

I agree completely with Gladisley. I don't think this is the moment to be blaming Obama at all. Agreed this is not surprising on part of Fidel, but we cannot blame our president. Bringing democracy is a monumental task, and has to come from the Cubans on the island--and obviously Fidel is our biggest impediment.

Por lo menos, Obama has done something in the past few weeks, more so than anyother president. He has tried to bring light on the lack of human rights in Cuba and has changed the tone of the failed half-century U.S. policy towards Cuba.

-Laura

Ric said...

Wow, Fidel says that Obama “misinterpreted” Raul’s overture and we’re supposed to take that as gospel? Since when are we so receptive to Fidel’s analysis of anything? Yet when it comes to searching for more effective ways to improve relations with Cuba, some of us seem so willing to bathe in Fidel’s “cold water”. It’s been two weeks since the recent changes in tone and policy took place. Are any of us really expecting change to happen overnight? That only happens through military invasion, my friends. Diplomacy is imperfect, messy and takes time, but it usually works. And even if it does fail, let’s make sure our efforts didn’t help make it a self-fulfilling prophesy. Don’t forget that Big Bro has undermined Little Bro every time the latter speaks of reform or tries to take the lead on things. This is just the latest example in what is now a two-year trend. Thankfully, less people in the island are listening to him. Wish I could say the same for folks here.

Wali Borges said...

Agreed!! It was very curious to me that Fidel was the one who attempted to "correct" Obama by telling Obama he misinterpreted Raul's words.

If Raul thought that Obama had misinterpreted him, then why hasn't Raul said anything?

It seems to me like the rift between the two brothers is growing. While I hate to see the bond between two brothers ripped apart, I think it is time for Raul to grow. And obviously he thinks so as well. I think maybe, just maybe, he meant those words he said, and that Obama interpreted them absolutely correctly. Fidel is just trying to reign Raul in, and keep him from changing things.

JOSE IGNACIO JIMENEZ said...

The embargo and the diplomacy of the past 50 hasn't produced a transition in government but that doesn't mean the embargo has not had ANY effect. The embargo prevented Fidel from effectively exporting his revolution beyond failed attempts in Angola and Grenada. His missions of spies pretending to be doctors and teachers in Venezuela and elsewhere produced very little beyond a fresh crop of defectors. His athletes defect every chance they get, in part because of the embargo. We will never know what Cuba would have been like WITHOUT the embargo. This is not to say that the embargo was the best option, maybe free trade and travel with Cuba would have produced a change, but we don't know that either.
The Bush adminstration was not silent on Cuba. The Bush admin. made significant efforts to promote and develop the opposition in Cuba. Pres. G.W. Bush gave Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian honor. The US mission in Cuba challenged the communists continuously with scrolling signs on the building, Internet access for dissidents, providing information on the opposition to other governments, etc. Under Bush the US AID budget to Cuba went from US$10M ('05), to $45M ('08). The list goes on. The Bush administration worked to develop a voice for Cuban dissidents and made significant strides to support movements focussed on developing an Civil Society in Cuba. To say Bush did nothing is unfair and inaccurate.

Obama is talking to the Castro brothers, and maybe that's better than the silent treatment. But Obama needs to talk (without pre-conditions) to the brave men and women of the oppostion. This will send a clear signal that the US stands for freedom, and is willing to reverse prior decisions to promote it.
Obama needs to start a dialogue with Cuba, but with the Cuban people, not just the Castro brothers.

ooarly26oo said...

"It seems to me like the rift between the two brothers is growing. While I hate to see the bond between two brothers ripped apart, I think it is time for Raul to grow. And obviously he thinks so as well. I think maybe, just maybe, he meant those words he said, and that Obama interpreted them absolutely correctly. Fidel is just trying to reign Raul in, and keep him from changing things."

Do not undermine Raul Castro. It is important to bear in mind that he is just like Fidel if not worse:

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=OTA0ZjhiYzRlYmYwZWIwMDEzYjY3NjYyZGY3YmI1ZWM=

http://marcmasferrer.typepad.com/uncommon_sense/2006/08/the_blood_on_ra.html

An excerpt from the above article describing Raul Castro: "It was at this time that his words and deeds gained him a reputation that even surpassed that of his older brother’s for being "impetuous and violently anti-American" and for possessing a "killer instinct."


Diplomacy with a ruthless anti-American assassin? Hmmm, seems dangerously "naive" to me...

"Tyranny is the same in all its shapes, even though sometimes it dresses in handsome names and grand deeds."

-Jose Marti

ooarly26oo said...

Sorry, this is the correct link for the second of the two I posted:


http://marcmasferrer.typepad.com/uncommon_sense/2006/08/the_blood_on_ra.html

Gladis "la villaclareña" Sanchez said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ciresconsult said...

Creo que el presidente Obama debe seguir intentándolo y que la distensión entre EEUU y Cuba puede dar un respiro a la propia oposición interna cubana. Claro, si la propia oposición sabe capitalizar lo bueno del momento…

Ahora, creo que sería un error que los cubanos dejemos que la política o diplomacia (bilateral) entre dos estados sustituya nuestro accionar o responsabilidad.

En resumen, es bueno que Obama haga lo que está haciendo y nos puede ayudar mucho, pero somos nosotros los que tenemos que pensar en acciones inteligentes. Además, no podemos supeditar nuestro trabajo solamente a unas relaciones que el gobierno cubano puede frustrar fácilmente. Después vendrán otros cubanos más cerrados y no dirán: “se lo dijimos, con los castro no se puede hablar”

Saludos,

Yaxys Cires (Madrid)

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