Cuba-U.S. thaw advances, but obstacles remain: Analyst

A year has passed, since Cuba and the United States formally resumed their diplomatic relations after more than 50 years of enmity and political confrontation.

In the last 12 months, both nations started historic rapprochement towards normalization, which was marked by ground-breaking cooperation agreements, steady political talks on thorny issues, and a significant visit to Havana of U.S. President Barack Obama in March.

The new scenario has led to an intense agenda of high-level meetings and over 10 cooperation agreements in air aviation, environmental protection, maritime security, agriculture and health, among others.

(Soundbite) Jesus Arboleya, Professor of Intel. Relations
“This year-long process has gone relatively well, much faster than expected at times. It also established the foundations of what would be difficult to reverse by whoever wins the U.S. elections in November.”

Havana’s demand for the complete lifting of the economic and financial blockade is still pending, a major roadblock for the full normalization of the bilateral ties.

Repeatedly, President Obama has said that the embargo must be lifted by Congress, as his executive powers are limited and it is now a legislative act.

(Soundbite) JESUS ARBOLEYA, Professor of Intel. Relations
“The blockade policy as a concept and as a law governing the U.S. policy towards Cuba is an absolute anomaly, not only in the bilateral relations but in the actual conducts of the American foreign policy.”

Another bristly issue has been the territory occupied by the U.S. as the Guantanamo Naval Base in eastern Cuba, a demand Havana is unwilling to give up, but consistently stated by Washington as not to be negotiated.

Regarding the upcoming presidential elections in the U.S., Havana must be prepared for any scenario. However, no matter who wins, the normalization process seems to get continued on an irreversible way.

(Soundbite) Jesus Arboleya, Professor of Intel. Relations
“If the U.S. changed its policy towards Cuba as Obama said, it is because the old policy failed. The old policy failed, because the variables factors that made it possible ceased to exist. Therefore, to rebuild the old policy will be difficult for anyone who assumes the U.S. presidency.”

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