Barack Obama spoke of a new beginning in the Cuba’s relationship with the United States, which will automatically bring a level of closeness between the U.S. administration and Latin America, as reflected in the summit in Trinidad and Tobago.
“I do believe that the signals sent so far provide at least an opportunity for frank dialogue on a range of issues, including critical issues of democracy and human rights throughout the hemisphere,” Obama said at a press conference marking the end to the fifth Summit of the Americas.
In the small nation located in the Southern Caribbean Sea, Obama managed with its unique charisma change the atmosphere that dominated his country’s relations with the hemisphere, but it is unclear if there will be further steps in the future in a bid that has taking half a century with the Communist stronghold of America.
Aware of the scope of this press in the new political geography of Latin America, Obama sought to give a signal before arriving: lifted travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans and remittances to Cuba.
Back in Port of Spain U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed with Obama when he said that the U.S. policy with Cuba failed.
“The policy we’ve had in place for 50 years has not worked,” he told reporters at a press conference.
Now, with a mission to regain influence in Latin America, Cuba just slip into the priorities of Obama’s foreign agenda that includes two wars and the exit of an economic crisis that impregnated the world.
Obama also focused on what leaders of other countries at the summit admired about Cuba’s program of sending doctors throughout the hemisphere. Many depend on Cuba’s medical aid program.
“It’s a reminder… that if our only interaction with many of these countries is drug interdiction — if our only interaction is military — then we may not be developing the connections that can over time increase our influence and have a beneficial effect,” Obama said.
Some where in favor of the U.S. efforts and others are waiting to see how effective the U.S.-Cuban dialogue will be.
The Cuban government needs to reply with actions “grounded in respect for human rights,” along with loosing its restrictions on Cubans’ freedom to travel and express opinions, Obama said on a visit to Mexico.
So far, Raul Castro said “(we are) willing to discuss everything, human rights, freedom of the press, political prisoners, everything.”
In Washington, both Democrats and Republicans said that they wanted to see actions take the place of dialogue.
“I think we’re taking the right steps, and I think the ball is now clearly in Cuba’s court,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo said. “They need to respond and say what they’re willing to do.”
“Release the prisoners an we’ll talk to you,” Republican Sen. of South Carolina Lindsey Graham said.
Also, Clinton said she would like to see Cuba “open up its society, release political prisoners, open up to outside opinions and media, have the kind of society that we all know that would improve the opportunities for the Cuban people and for their nation.”
Perhaps, following the signs will lead the U.S. to the complete lifting of the embargo on the island. Obama will have to convince the people and especially Republicans.
Yet, I wonder how they expect Cuba to take additional steps if its leaders are excluded from the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad Tobago.
Even though I want to believe Obama’s efforts, he is “ the president of an empire that has rules he cannot change” and the Organization of American States remains a tool of U.S. policy and objects to its suspension of Cuba’s in 1962, President Daniel Ortega said.