Cuba must now look to the future – and their neighbours

It is clear that America’s long punishment of Cuba through a trade embargo and other sanctions is a policy that failed. After all, unlike many other ex-dictators, Castro died peacefully in his own time in his own bed. President Obama was right to recognise that

Saturday 26 November 2016 17:56
Comments
Castro hosts the 2005 visit to Havana of Venezuela President Hugo Chavez (left) and Bolivia leader Evo Morales
Castro hosts the 2005 visit to Havana of Venezuela President Hugo Chavez (left) and Bolivia leader Evo Morales

Indisputably charismatic, loathed by some, beloved by many, Fidel Castro ceased to have much practical influence on Cuba’s affairs some years ago, when he passed the torch to his brother Raul. The death of the President of the Cuban Revolution, as he was latterly styled, is, though, a significant moment.

It is apparent that a half-century of Castroism hasn’t delivered the kind of economic success enjoyed by other emerging nations. The communist experiment flopped, as it always has. His supporters are right to point to Castro’s achievements in literacy, education, health and social progress. Yet while Cuba enjoys some of the best and free medical services for a country of its size and wealth, it also has one of the lowest rates of internet usage. The island has been cut off from the rest of the world economy for so long that, like the rule of the Castro clan, it is almost taken for granted. It should not be.

Emerging from communism as Cuba now is, its leaders can at least look to the different experiences of former Comecon friends and allies, not least Russia, for warnings and for inspiration. Most of the former Soviet satellites in eastern Europe, for example, have made a relatively orderly and peaceful transformation into free liberal multi-party democracies. Cuba has no reason to fear a free media, free trade unions and free trade with her neighbours (assuming her neighbours want it). Tourism, currency reform and an influx of investment would offer an immediate boost to the Cuban economy.

It is also clear that America’s long punishment of Cuba through a trade embargo and other sanctions is a policy that failed. After all, unlike many other ex-dictators, Castro died peacefully in his own time in his own bed. President Obama was right to recognise that and to seek to engage with a Cuba that was plainly once again looking at to the world, and in particular at its uneasy relationship with its powerful superpower neighbour, a mere 90 miles distant. The danger, seemingly already confirmed by a characteristically thoughtless and tasteless tweet, is that Donald Trump will take hope for Cuba and turn it into hate.

So, emerging from the shadow of the long Castro regime, Cuba has much to gain, and America also has the opportunity to put the exploding cigars, the missile crisis and the Bay of Pigs into the history books, along with Fidel’s speeches. It would be tragic if misunderstandings and diplomatic blunders wrecked what would be a transformative rebuilding of relations between two nations who have more in common than they care to admit.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in