Saturday, January 31, 2015

Define Normal, Honestly

So after the seismic announcement changing the counterproductive official policy of the United States towards Cuba, the earth actually didn't crumble (in most places!).  What stubbornly remains in tact is the failure, so far, of the United States to legislatively give up the intention of causing regime change in Havana.  Now given the political opportunity to do so, by which I mean the powerful interest groups coincidentally being lined up with public opinion, I think it very well may be erased.  That certainly wouldn't prevent the powerful actors that aren't always in plain view from continuing their efforts in more discreet ways so what would be the point of being so outright offensive?!

The giant step of official recognition has already been made and it will be etched in stone once each nation has replaced their respective Interests Sections with Embassies.  Much has been made about the counties beginning the process of normalizing relations and rightfully so.  And such a situation would be possible only if each country actually decides to have respect as a foundation of the relationship.  This is the first time that the United States has announced publicly this type of desire so it sort of binds itself to trying.  Given the history of aggression towards the island dating back to its independence from Spain, it seems pretty hard to believe, but we don't have crystal balls.

The US media has perpetuated a particular narrative that goes some thing like this: every time the US has reached out to the Cuban government, the Cuban government has created a situation to prevent mending relations.  Basically we are supposed to be believing that the government of Cuba prefers the blockade, or embargo, remains in place so it has something to blame for its problems.  Actually, if the US media is supposed to be honest and fair, then laziness can be the only reason for telling this story.  It would have been noticed long ago that what the Cuban government blames on US is policy IS the results of US policy. US law does prevent the sale of numerous medical devices to benefit the Cuban people.  US law does prevent the global financial institutions from handling Cuban transactions in a ways that would be considered as remotely usual.  The powerful and very real threat of huge fines keeps institutions from engaging many from even trying.  These are just some examples that would easily prove both that the complaints by Cuban officials have made are legitimate and that they would prefer that the embargo would be eliminated should be believed completely.

The new claim or half-baked question being raised in the media, something that apparently follows the age old story about roadblocks erected by the Cuban government have to do with the speech made by Raul Castro this week at the meeting of CELAC.  He is said to have made demands that would prevent normalization of relations.  What he said was actually exactly what has been said since Cuba has acted independently in 1959, something that hadn't been fully realized since ceasing to be a colony of Spain.  A valid question would be "how much independence was exercised when its constitution was first written under US military occupation?"  And the same question can be posed when considering the treaty that allowed Guantanamo Bay to remain occupied by US military. It doesn't take much thought to realize that those decisions were made to satisfy US interests much more than anything that would benefit Cuba.  There are international laws that can call into question the validity of that treaty as well as certain uses of the Guantanamo base that also may invalidate the agreement.

Should the United States keep occupy another nation's territory, especially if the nation demands that it leaves? Of course not and it it very reasonable for the end of the Guantanamo occupation to be necessary for truly normal relations to exist. But Raul Castro himself stated that working towards that end wouldn't impede the steps being taken currently between the US and Cuban governments. So it shouldn't be seen as a roadblock.  Besides, how would we have to redefine the word normal to coincide with a relationship in which one country continues to try and impose its will on the other?  I'd go as far as saying the largest roadblock to normalization may ultimately be the US attitude which has shown so far to be almost inflexible.

We need to keep these types of things in mind and ask ourselves who and what is reasonable. And we should't compromise language any more than we have and know what normalization should be..  

1 comment:

  1. Clear indication that the USA still is incapable of seeing Cuba as a sovereign country.