Korea yes, Cuba no

HAVANA – A question that has been repeatedly asked of U.S. officials in recent days is the reason why they can negotiate with North Korea and not with Cuba. The answer has been the same: nothing has changed in Cuba despite the fact that a new government has just been inaugurated under the presidency of Miguel Díaz Canel.

This response is striking. The moral is that the premises that conditioned American policy toward Cuba, and now are repeated, were always false. The U.S. problem with Cuba does not lie in a supposed accident which they call “Castroism”.

Even if we accept this logic to justify the option of not negotiating, the fact is that the North Korean government has changed even less. On the contrary, the recent agreements with that country, although still without specifying its concrete aspects and its irreversibility determined, have served to exalt the leadership of Kim Jong-Un, until now considered the U.S.’s worst enemy in Asia.

The first reason that pops up explaining the American refusal to negotiate with the Cuban government is that, unlike North Korea, Cuba does not possess nuclear weapons, thereby diminishing its importance in the North American agenda.

The other impediment for negotiations with Cuba is Cuba itself. As reflected in declassified documents, from the start the United States came to the conclusion that it could not live with the Cuban revolutionary regime thereby triggering a war on many fronts, which continues to this day.

Although, as Obama recognized at the time, this war failed in its intent of overthrowing the Cuban government. The economic blockade has worked to prevent the deployment of all the potentialities of the Revolution and the unimpeded demonstration of the virtues of the model. 

Trump has embraced this perverse logic, which has nothing to do with the welfare of the Cuban people, as he has stated, nor does it bring benefits to the Americans themselves.

There are also factors that make Cuba and Mexico into the Latin American countries where the domestic situation of the United States most influences bilateral relations with those countries.

In Mexico’s case the roots of the conflict go back to 1848, when more than half of its territory was taken from it. Presently, the migratory issue and the presence of a population that grows exponentially influencing the American demographic balance has led to a xenophobic and racist reaction in sectors that constitute Donald Trump’s electoral base.

Added to this are the existing economic interests between the two countries. These are conditioned by a relative decline in American competitiveness, which explains the protectionist attempts of the trumpist agenda. There is also the porosity of a border through which drug trafficking, weapons and people flow, largely a reflection of the intrinsic evils of American society, which can not be solved by building walls or deploying troops.

In the Cuban case, historical precedent also influences the life of both nations. Cuba was the first North American neo-colony and the confrontation to this regime determined the objectives of the Cuban Revolution precisely at the moment when the United States extended this system of domination in the Third World.

The war against Cuba promoted the construction of a counterrevolutionary political force of Cuban origin within the U.S. territory, which extended its influence to other aspects of national life, particularly in the political structures of South Florida, as well as Congress and the federal bureaucracy. For this force it is vital to maintain belligerency against Cuba, and this explains its reluctance to any kind of negotiation between the two countries.

Since Trump needed this voting bloc to support his government, he handed over to them the policy towards Cuba despite the fact that the majority of the American people, including within the Cuban-American community and important sectors of the Republican Party, support the initiative aimed at improving relations between the two countries carried out by Obama.

Perhaps to change things and continue negotiations between the countries, under the circumstances, what really needs to change is the current U.S. administration, a probability that does not seem impossible.