Bloggers on the new US Congress and the US policy on Cuba

Not much has been said in the blogosphere about how the results of the recent mid-term elections in the United States, which put the Democrats in control of Congress back in November, can affect the future of current US policy regarding Cuba. The truth is that several Democratic representatives (and some Republicans too) have been supportive of lifting the embargo and/or ending the ban on travel to Cuba, ever since the island entered a period of crisis about fifteen years ago. As Sir Ronald Sanders, former Caribbean ambassador to the World Trade Organization, observes in a piece republished on the blog of US journalist David Kinchen:

. . . US policy in Cuba is still too closely tied to the fortunes of both the Republican and Democratic parties in domestic elections for any radical change to take place soon. The votes of the anti-Castro, Cuban-American community and lobby remain influential.

Nonetheless, there can be no doubt in the minds of policy makers in the US that the global community – and the Caribbean countries especially – want to see the normalization of relations between the US and Cuba.

A Cuban blog called Por la izquierda [ES] wrote a post on November 24 which talked explicitly about the election results in and the changes — if any — one should expect in US policy toward Cuba. The blogger, who writes under the name Left-handed, opens by saying:

I've read a few articles about the perspectives of change of the US policies towards Cuba, now that the democrats are in control of the US congress. It sounds good, and I hope every day for the US government to stop letting certain influences from South Florida to dictate their foreign policies in this respect.

And even more fresh and maybe more insightful are a couple of articles from December 21, published on the blog Cuaderno de Cuba [ES] by the Miami-based Cuban-American journalist Armando Armengol. He quotes the leader of the Cuban parliament, who said recently that the US policy toward the island is a problem of priorities:

…the president of the Cuban parliament, Ricardo Alarcón, mentioned an important issue while expressing his negative vision about a change in the US policy towards Cuba: the situation in Iraq. As long as the conditions in the Arab country worsens, and Raúl Castro continues the process of succession without obstacles, Washington will limit itself to maintaining without change its Cuban strategy.

Armengol also offers a good analysis there about what the options are, both for Democrats and Republicans, and how this new situation may not be so advantageous for the former.

From the electoral standpoint, the democrats may be about to enter a minefield: instead of being able to show the incapacity of the current administration to put in practice an effective policy that contributes to bringing about a change towards democracy in Cuba, they may end up being the ones responsible for failure. They have against them a situation that seems advantageous at first sight: to continue being the party in the opposition, only that now with a considerable amount of power that makes them responsible for the errors.

On his second article touching on these issues Armengol goes deeper into the declarations of Alarcón, and he wonders why these contrast to such an extent with Raúl Castro's recent overtures to the US:

[Alarcón's negative and pessimistic] position is somewhat contrasting with the attitude, expressed twice already by Raúl Castro, of being willing to talk to the US.

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