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Cuba - US Relations

Cuba has been a fixture on the pariah nation short list since the early 1960s, when the United States responded to Castros adoption of a one-party Marxist system and repression by breaking relations and embargoing commerce. The Bay of Pigs invasion (1961), the Cuban missile crisis (1962), and Cuban troops as Soviet Union surrogates in Africa (1970s and 1980s) have been major but by no means the only source of mutual tension and confrontation. The United States has responded to durable Cuban intransigence and misrule with additional legislation reflecting a strong Executive-Legislative Branch consensus on the need to further tighten the screws.

The United States established diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba in 1902, opening the first U.S. Embassy in Havana in 1923. Later it was moved to the building that it currently occupies, opened in 1953. The Embassy was closed in 1961 when the United States severed diplomatic relations with Cuba. During President Carters administration in 1977, the United States and Cuba signed an agreement establishing the U.S. Interests Section (USINT) in Havana, and the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC. Both diplomatic missions operated under the protection of the Embassy of Switzerland.

During the term of President Obama, diplomatic ties between the two countries were resumed with the Embassy of the United States of America re-opening in Havana and the Cuban embassy re-opening in Washington, D.C. Diplomatic relations were officially established on July 20, 2015. John Kerry became the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit Cuba in 70 years when he came to Havana for the U.S. Embassys flag raising ceremony on August 14, 2015.

President Obama had worked for nearly two years with Castro and others in the Cuban governmentto re-start relations between Cuba and the US, culminating in early 2016 in the first direct flights between the two countries in 50 years and the reopening of embassies. The relaxed regulations introduced by Obama made it easier for Americans to bring products back from Cuba, allowed more access for doctors to work with Cuban researchers on medical investigations and ended the 180-day ban on ships docking at U.S. ports after leaving Cuba. Obama also visited Cuba March 21-22, 2016,, marking the first time a U.S. president had stepped foot in Cuba since Calvin Coolidge did in 1928.

During President Obama's second term in office, commercial flights and cruise ship travel between the United States and Cuba also resumed, as well as direct mail delivery. Several agreements were also assigned between the United States and Cuba to collaborate on various topics, including health, environment, drug and human trafficking, and telecommunications.

President-elect Joe Bidens team planned to bring the U.S. closer to normalized relations with Cuba, reversing many of the sanctions and regulations imposed during the Trump administration. That strategy includes reducing restrictions on travel, investment and remittances for the island nation that are perceived to disproportionately hurt Americans and ordinary Cubans, said the people, who requested anonymity because the new administration is still coming together. Other measures that target Cuba for human rights abuses would remain in place.

"Despite expectations to the contrary, the Biden administration will gravitate and navigate an international policy framed by the center-right rather than the center-left,' John Kavulich, president of the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, a nonpartisan and not-for-profit business organization, wrote November 09, 2020. "The Biden administration will encounter a larger, less-porous and media-savvy congressional firewall that may limit, perhaps consistently or intermittently during his four-year term, robust re-engagement with the Republic of Cuba," as Kavulich sees it.

The Biden Administration will be guided by then-candidate Joseph Bidens statements during the 2020 campaign about the ineffectiveness of Trump Administration policies towards the Republic of Cuba and Venezuela:

We have to vote for a new Cuba policy as well, Biden said. Trump is the worst possible standard-bearer for democracy in places like Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea. Cuba is no closer to freedom and democracy today than it was four years ago. Trump loves to talk tough, but he doesnt care about the Cuban and Venezuelan people. He wont even grant Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans fleeing the oppressive Maduro regime. I will, but we have to vote. The Miami Herald (29 October 2020)

Cuba is no closer to freedom and democracy today than it was four years ago. President Trump cant advance democracy and human rights for the Cuban people or the Venezuelan people, for that matter, when he has praised so many autocrats around the world. The New York Times (29 October 2020)

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Page last modified: 17-12-2020 20:16:04 ZULU