Monday, March 28, 2016

AMERICA AND CUBA: How the relationship will change

American and Cuban relations deteriorated following the Cuban revolution in 1959 and ever since, there has been confrontation and tension between both nations. United States lacks formal diplomatic relations with Cuba, and an embargo has been maintained that makes it unlawful for corporations in the United states to conduct any business with Cuba .The embargo was imposed due to the nationalization of the property of United States corporations during the Cuban revolution. United States had explicitly stated  that the ban will stay put for as long as the government of Cuba continues to refuse to move towards democratization and a value for human rights.
Following the events in 1961 and 1962, diplomatic and economic isolation became the primary thorns of United States policy to Cuba. This went on even following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Washington went further to strengthen the embargo with the Cuba Democracy Act of 1992. The act states that the ban cannot be lifted until  when Cuba will hold free and fair elections together with transitions to a democratic government that does not include the castors. The current Cuban president, Raul Castro has made it clear he will leave office in 2018. A  series of changes have been implemented to the trade embargo in order to allow for the export of some United States medical supplies and agricultural products to the island . Cuban has incurred losses over the years because of the stringent trade restrictions.
According to Farley (2004) in his book, majority-minority relations shows how conflict and ethnic stratification develops among groups.  Initially, just like in the case of America and Cuba, when they initially come into contact, they display some accommodation and curiosity towards the other party. There is both conflict and cooperation, then America became dominant and as such, there are cast like relations with rigid restrictions impacted on the subordinate group which is, in this case, the trade embargo imposed on Cuba by America.
“Human Rights in Cuba are a significant concern for United States Policy Makers”
Human rights in Cuba are a significant concern for United States policy makers. It has been observed by the human rights watch that Cuba goes on to repress people and groups that criticize governance or ask for the basic human rights using detention, beatings, imposed exiles and travel restrictions. The report also notes that dozens of political foreigners and prisoners have been released from Cuban prisons in 2010 and 2011. Domestic politics in the United States made united states Cuba d├ętente a political risk. The Cuban American people in South Florida traditionally had an influence over the United States policy on Cuba. Both Democrats and Republicans have feared to alienate a voting bloc that is strong in a critical swing state in presidential elections. The Cuban community has been for a long time been a significant role player in Republican support in presidential elections. The trend has however changed as Democrats have in the recent past won the Cuban vote in Florida.
Towards the end of 2014, the American president, Barack Obama, and the President of Cuba Raul Castro announced the start of a process of the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba. Negotiations were conducted in the Vatican City and Canada the agreement oversaw the lifting of several United States travel restrictions and lesser restrictions on remittances. United States banks would have access to the Cuban financial system, and there would be an established United States embassy in Havana that was closed following the Cuban affiliation to USSR in 1961.
The meeting of the American and Cuban president came four months after they both announced that both countries would restore their ties. Successive administrations in the United States have been maintaining a policy of diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions against Cuba. The changes in the countries relations that was at first marked by a prisoner exchange and Havana releasing a jailed united states contractor prompted a number of experts to point towards better prospects for the economy in Cuba and united states relations broadly in the Latin America region. The United States trade embargo that requires to be approved by Congress to be repealed is not likely to be lifted soon. In addition to the prisoner's release, America agreed to reduce restrictions on remittance, banking, and travel and Cuba agreed to the release of fifty-three prisoners that had been classified by the United States as political dissidents. New trade and travel regulations were implemented in January that enabled United States travellers to visit sans having to obtain a government license.
This is explained in the third phase of ethnic stratification where society progresses to become more industrial, modern and urban race relations are a class like and the competitive systems are more fluid. There are minimal legal restrictions on a subordinate group as is seen following the lifting of some of the travel restrictions to Cuba; however, the dominant group retains power by covert discrimination. Members of majority groups perpetuate cultural racism through the belief that the minorities that are disadvantaged situations are there due to influences from their culture.
Countries that are determined by the united states secretary of states to have, on several occasions, provided support for acts of global terrorism are designated as per United States laws.  The four primary categories of sanctions resulting in designation under the authorities are inclusive of restrictions on United States foreign aid. A ban on defence sales and exports controls over particular exports of dual-use items and other miscellaneous financial restrictions. When a country is designated under the laws, other sanctions and laws are implemented that penalize the countries and individuals from engaging in trade with state sponsors.
New Changes
Cuba was designated to the list on March 1st, 1982. Following the signing of the new accord, the secretary of state will look into the country a fresh to make a review of the designation. Furthermore, earlier, there was a slew of travel restrictions barring American citizens and permanent residents in America from travelling to Cuba with a few exceptions. General licenses that do not require any special permission, are provided for individuals that are visiting a relative that is a Cuban national or persons that are travelling with them who share a common dwelling as a family with them. This was authorized by the United States president in 2009.  General licenses will be provided for reasons that necessitated approval on a case by case basis; for instance, athletic competitions, public performances and workshops, humanitarian work in case of disaster, dissemination of information and travel that is related to the export of authorized products.  It is imperative to note that travel restrictions inclusive of tourism will require congressional action to be lifted.

Banking and trade will also be impacted in the sense that before, no transactions that involve the property of Cuban nationals were allowed. For instance, the purchase of Cuban cigars or the signing of Cuba-related contracts with foreign firms. Following the lifting of the embargo, American institutions will be able to hold accounts at financial institutions in Cuba. Cuban travellers will be allowed to use American debit and credit cards. American entities in third countries will be able to take part in meetings and transactions with Cuban people in third countries. Items or equipment that supports the private sector in Cuba will be allowed for export such as building and agricultural material. Companies providing telecommunication services will be allowed to set up the related infrastructure; American travellers that are licensed can import 400 dollars of goods inclusive of up to 100 dollars in alcohol and tobacco. It would, however, require congressional action to lift entirely the embargo.
Remittances to religious organizations or close relatives have no limits. Travellers with authorization are allowed to carry 3000 dollars to Cuba in remittances. Before, the approved payments in every quarter will be made to any Cuban citizen for humanitarian reasons; this amount will be raised to 2000 dollars every quarter.  In addition to that, earlier, there were requirements for a license for individuals that provide remittance forwarding services, the licenses will not be required any more following the agreement.

It is apparent that the new agreement between the American and Cuban governments has brought forth several changes.  For the most part, the changes in policies have been beneficial to both countries as they are both now able to conduct business together. While there is still a long way to go, in the reestablishment of good relations between both countries, it is evident that this is a step in the right direction and a good start. Nationals from both countries are likely to benefit from the fewer restrictions on imports and exports, and this is, therefore, likely to boost economic growth more specifically for Cuba. Particularly so, is that Cuba as a country is now able to benefit from investors in various service industries particularly from telecommunication services providers.

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