US-Cuba Relations

By Balkaran, Stephen | The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, January 2017 | Go to article overview

US-Cuba Relations


Balkaran, Stephen, The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education


The recent death of Fidel Castro, Cubas long-serving dictator, has been met with great optimism and skepticism as diplomatic relations continue to unfold. His legacy that spanned some 6o years and 11 American presidents now remains in the history books. Arguably one of the most important politicalfigure to emerge in Latin America, his ideas of socialism and one-party Communist rule became the core of his regime and the obstacle of many American presidents and their policies. How we approach the new Cuba minus the leadership of Fidel remains to be seen, but like many of our foreign policies, it must be done in a humane and philosophical way that represents the true America.

The evolving diplomatic relationship between the United States and Cuba not only has the potential to redefine America's socio-economic, cultural and political landscape, but it also greatly affects our Latin American patriots. As America addresses issues including the erasure of trade embargoes, the lifting of travel restrictions and the improvement of relations with the Caribbean island and the rest of Latin America, we must be conscious of the effects on society. Despite positive diplomatic protocol, the implications of how these relationships will affect ever-evolving Cuba, Latin America, its impact on American political process and our society as a whole- remain pertinent and indicative of our foreign policy.

Prior to President John F. Kennedy's administration, the United States' shared a volatile relationship with Latin America. Before Fidel Castro's rise in Cuba, presidential administrations supported military dictators that promoted outright human rights abuses in many Latin American countries. In fact, Vice President Richard Nixon once praised Cuba's dictator Batista-a leader that denied much of Cuba's population democracy, human rights and economic prosperity-as "Cuba's Abraham Lincoln." Our policies before, during and after Fidel Castro's time leading Cuba helped define our Cold War foreign policy with Latin America and the rest of the world and also played an important role of defining who we are as Americans. As a result of America's Cold War isolation policies, much of Latin America, especially those nations that sided with the Cuba's socialist philosophy, remained alienated from the United States and its economic opportunities.

President John F. Kennedy's foreign policy with Latin America, often termed the "Alliance for Progress," aimed at promoting economic needs, human rights and democracy in Latin America. President Kennedy himself referred to this policy as "Latin America's Marshall Plan." Kennedy's plan resulted in economic backlash, though. Cuba, along with many Latin American countries that sided with Castro's anti-American imperialism policies, found themselves politically, economically and culturally isolated from the famed fallout that took place in 1961. Relations further deteriorated with Cuba and Latin America after Kennedy's failed policies in the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis. These political events not only undermined the trust of Kennedy's administration in Cuba and Latin America, but they also catalyzed the new anti-American imperialism philosophy that many Latin American countries embraced. The United States' political and military involvement in Cuba and several Latin American countries has been met with hatred, distrust and vengeance. These feelings were further exacerbated during the 1980's when America's foreign policy in Cuba and Latin American involved overthrowing democratically elected governments. Not only did the United States install military dictatorship puppets in countries like Guatemala, Brazil and Chile, but we also supported civil wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Grenada and other Latin American nations. Such policies strained U.S.-Latin American relations, and animosity continued to escalate as multiple United States presidents could not deal with Fidel Castro's Cuba in a rational and sensitive way. …

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