Yankee No!: Anti-Americanism in U.S.-Latin American Relations/Foreign Policy toward Cuba: Isolation or Engagement

By Stevens, Jean-Marie | Cuban Studies, January 1, 2007 | Go to article overview

Yankee No!: Anti-Americanism in U.S.-Latin American Relations/Foreign Policy toward Cuba: Isolation or Engagement


Stevens, Jean-Marie, Cuban Studies


Alan McPherson. Yankee No!: Anti-Americanism in U.S.-Latin American Relations. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003. 257pp.

Michele Zebich-Knos and Heather N. Nicol, eds. Foreign Policy toward Cuba: Isolation or Engagement. Lanham, Md: Lexington Books, 2005, 285pp.

Over the past two years, ten new books have examined Cuban and American diplomatic relations since the beginning of the Cuban republic in 1898. The stimulus for such an outpouring of interest comes from Cuba's solo flight into independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 and the withdrawal of economic support in 1992. All eyes turned on Castro's government expecting to witness the sympathetic demise of Moscow's satellite. The island weathered a terrible economic blow, but the government remained in place. In 1994 and 1998, Washington attached severe measures to the blockade intended to finish off the crippled economy, but still Castro governed. Now, the world awaits the announcement that the old caudillo has been removed from power through death. With mortal blows aimed at the heart of the Cuban regime, scholars are considering the past and the future of relations between the United States and Cuba, nations that never ended the Cold War over a decade and a half ago. Two books in particular raise the matter of U.S. foreign policy strategy that has failed to attain cooperation and peace in the region and with Cuba. Each book approaches the issue differently, and thus read together, they expand our view of how policy has been delivered and, at this juncture, how it might be redrawn to bring different results.

In the edited compilation Foreign Policy toward Cuba: Isolation or Engagement, sixteen authors (historians, political scientists, Latin Studies professors, and a sociologist) present thirteen essays on the state of foreign relations between the United States, Canada, and Mexico and the CARI-COM nations of the Caribbean and Cuba. Through these essays, the editors set out to illustrate "how one small island can provoke such an enduring foreign-policy response rooted in the Cold War but still intact today" (xi). As a result, this collection is highly focused on the United States' policies toward Cuba and the essayists' criticisms of such policy. Of great consternation to them is the inability of the United States to understand that, in the post-Cold War world, strategies concerning Cuba need revisions that allow for cooperation despite Fidel Castro's longevity in office.

Three common themes that arise in these essays are the ineffective, outmoded foreign policy levied toward Cuba since the end of the Cold War, the emphasis placed on Cuba as a domestic rather than foreign policy imperative for the United States, and the composition of the exile community that has generated this view of Cuba as a domestic issue. Taking the United States to task for its isolation of Cuba, Lana Wylie lauds the Canadian foreign policy of constructive engagement as the correct means by which to deal with Cuba and Castro, while Peter McKenna and John M. Kirk see Canadian-Cuban relations in a different light, observing a fluctuation in the liberal nature of Canadian policy corresponding to the politics of the prime minister. Michele ZebichKnos asserts that the Cuban issue has become a domestic issue in the United States as well, given the desire of George W. Bush to transfer his moral agenda to issues dealing with Castro, whereas Soraya Castro Marino suggests that, by overlooking Cuba as an international issue and an ally in the War on Terror, the United States misses the chance to create a bilateral, cooperative relationship. However, according to Guillermo Grenier, Sung-Chang Chun, and Hugh Gladwin the exile community's political influence, whether real or imagined, defines the U.S. government's response to Cuban issues. These essayists' view the reflexive response of U.S. politicians to the Cuban community's requests and its ideology as a barrier to change in foreign relations toward Cuba, but they contend that the community is far from being the homogeneous political group it is believed to be by the U. …

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