Cuba's Enduring Challenge to U.S. Foreign Policy

By Arthur I Cyr, Carthage College | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), April 18, 2015 | Go to article overview

Cuba's Enduring Challenge to U.S. Foreign Policy


Arthur I Cyr, Carthage College, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


"You know, next time you're going to have to do better, Mr. President."

That was former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, talking with successor John F. Kennedy about the devastating failed invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in early 1961. JFK had reached out for political cover, and also insight regarding the military defeat and diplomatic disaster at the start of his administration.

The current news about Cuba and U.S. President Barack Obama is considerably more positive. On April 11, he met with Cuba's President Raul Castro. Their conversation in Panama City Panama, during the Summit of the Americas, may prove of historic importance.

For the first time since the Castro dictatorship took power in early 1959, heads of the two governments engaged in direct conversation. At the end of the historic meeting, the two men shook hands.

The summits have been held every three to four years since 1994, when the first was held in Miami during the Clinton administration. The Soviet Union had disintegrated, satellite regimes of Eastern Europe had collapsed, and China had announced capitalist reforms.

Cuba was excluded from previous summits. One byproduct of the meetings was to underscore the isolation of the surviving but economically struggling communist dictatorship. However, in recent years Latin American governments have pressed for inclusion.

The earlier Summit of the Americas, held in 2012 in Cartagena, Colombia, initiated the opening to Cuba. All the participating heads of government of Latin America and the Caribbean voted to invite Havana. Canada as well as the United States voted against the proposal but were isolated. Obama's efforts at rapprochement reflect this evolving political reality, which complements his own policy preferences.

President Raul Castro understandably generated considerable attention from the media as well as delegates. …

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