Obama aims to mainstream Cuba

As far as the Cubans are concerned, their focus will be on economic enterprise that will come from the big brother across the Straits of Florida.



As US President Barack Obama sets his foot on Cuba, he is not only making history but also leaving behind a legacy, which will have far-reaching consequences for the American hemisphere. This is the first visit from any sitting head of state from America in more than eight decades. This also logically brings to an end the Cold War between the two estranged neighbours, but not necessarily the bad blood that had kept them poles part. Obama, the first Black African-American president, had pledged in his manifesto to befriend the Latin American states, and rewrite a new chapter of reconciliation. The ensuing détente with Cuba, and the going soft with Argentina, Brazil, and especially with Venezuela is part of that approach. Obama will long be remembered for tapping two major adversaries: Iran and Cuba, and making inroads.
Obama's commitment to open up with communist Cuba, however, has been well received. Yet, there is a long way to go, and the impact of the Havana sojourn will not be instant. The Obama administration, despite strong opposition from Congress, has courageously opted for a mainstreaming strategy with the island-state. From Obama's handshake in Johannesburg with Rahul Castro to reopening of diplomatic missions, the aim has been to mellow down acrimony. Obama has been quite successful, and the Cuban leadership also deserves credit for taking all the necessary steps needed to reorient the need for a thaw. After decades of hostility and mistrust, Obama and Castro will have to carefully tackle the challenges in normalising their relations. The prime among them will be how they deal with intricate issues such as America's desire for democratic values, a free Press and concern for human rights. As far as the Cubans are concerned, their focus will be on economic enterprise that will come from the big brother across the Straits of Florida. Cuba is in need of massive investment and a level-playing field. The least that Obama could do is to reassure the Cubans that there won't be any bullying.


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