Recently US president Barak Obama became the first US president to visit Cuba in 88 years. It is a visit for great significance for US, Cuba and for the surrounding regions. With new wave of optimism in the US – Cuba relations, the trade embargo and various other sanctions that were imposed by US on Cuba can see a phase of developments involving both the parties.
History of US – Cuba relations:
The tumultuous U.S.-Cuba relationship has its roots in the Cold War. In 1959, Fidel Castro and a group of revolutionaries seized power in Havana, overthrowing Fulgencio Batista. Despite misgivings about Castro’s communist political ideology, the United States recognized his government. However, as Castro’s regime increased trade with the Soviet Union, nationalized U.S.-owned properties, and hiked taxes on American imports, the United States responded with escalating economic retaliation. After slashing Cuban sugar imports, Washington instituted a ban on nearly all exports to Cuba, which President John F. Kennedy expanded into a full economic embargo that included stringent travel restrictions.
In 1961 the United States severed diplomatic ties with Cuba and began pursuing covert operations to overthrow the Castro regime. The 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion, a botched CIA-backed attempt to topple the government, fuelled Cuban mistrust and nationalism, leading to a secret agreement allowing the Soviet Union to build a missile base on the island. The United States discovered those plans in October of 1962, setting off a fourteen-day standoff. U.S. ships imposed a naval quarantine around the island, and Kennedy demanded the destruction of the missile sites. The Cuban Missile Crisis ended with an agreement that the sites would be dismantled if the United States pledged not to invade Cuba; the United States also secretly agreed to remove nuclear missiles from Turkey.
Post Obama visit following changes are expected to happen:
Improved communication networks: Cuba has an Internet penetration of about five percent – one of the lowest rates in the world, now telecommunications providers will be allowed to establish the necessary mechanisms, including infrastructure, in Cuba to provide commercial telecommunications and internet services.
However there are still “profound” differences over Cuba’s human rights situation and the decades-old, crippling U.S. economic embargo on the island. This will resolve over time in a US – Cuba relationship.
Benefits for India:
India-Cuba relations have been traditionally warm and friendly. India was amongst the first countries to recognize Cuba after the 1959 Revolution. Both countries have maintained close contacts with each other in various international fora, such as the UN, NAM, WTO, etc. India supports resolutions in the UN General Assembly calling for lifting of US sanctions against Cuba.
Cuba shares India’s views on democratizing UN and expansion of the UN Security Council. It also holds the reform of the UN Security Council as central to the overall reform process. Cuba supports India’s inclusion as a permanent member in the restructured UN Security Council.
With US being strategic partner to India, and the renewed US Cuba relations are in the best interest of people of India and US.
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