This past week, United States relations with Cuba were back in the spotlight. The Trump administration announced new restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba. The rollback of Obama’s measures towards the island’s government is a promise President Trump had made some months ago. The steps are reasonable, since Obama’s agreement with Cuba was insufficient and inequitable. The U.S. gave much and received little in return.
It has been more than a year since the normalization of relations. Clearly, Cuba has been unwilling to change rapidly, and past treaties were insufficiently in achieving a new robust track. One example is the continued discriminatory practices against Americans in the island. On a recently booked trip I had to Cuba, for example, it turned out that hotel rates were unjustifiably much higher for Americans than for Europeans, so I cancelled my plans.
The intention of the hotel was to give a silent retaliation for the years of economic embargo. The focus was on individuals that had no say on the matter and also no ability to change or improve American relations with Havana.
In fact, with the new tight restrictions, American individuals can no longer visit Cuba and groups need a license from the Treasury Department to visit the country. The Cuban tourism industry will feel the effects of U.S. government encouragement of Americans to stay in private houses and avoid hotels and restaurants connected to or owned by the military and security services.
After decades of adverse relationships, isn’t it time to bury the hatchet and bring out the peace pipe. For that, Cuba needs to take a step back and accept new policies which are fair, non-discriminatory and welcoming to visitors, both American and Cuban alike. As a fair trade and commerce relationship is not yet a reality, the United States government needed to demonstrate a stronger position in order to encourage appropriateness.
In addition, it is important to note that seeking improved relations with Havana does not mean forgetting the violations against human and civil rights during the Castro government. The population’s welfare is equally relevant as economic aspects in diplomatic relations, and actions such as expropriations and unjustified prison sentences should still be remembered and repaired. Curative marketing evaluates, carries physical accosting, debt, and destruction until true restitution is made.
Much remains to be done by Cuba, particularly since the United States has already long ago initiated important steps to reflect its own atonement. Cuban pressure to repay for earlier inequities will not work. Only if both parties commit to a fair relationship, will we see commerce between the countries grow and bring benefits and economic growth.