News Release

U.S. – Cuba Relations Improve But Issues Remain for Others in Region 

BBC recently reported: “The Summit of the Americas brings together the leaders of North, Central and South America. This, the seventh, is the first which Cuba attended… As U.S. ties with Cuba improve, those between Venezuela and Washington remain fractious. The U.S. imposed sanctions last month on a group of Venezuelan officials it accuses of human rights abuses. Mr Obama also issued an executive order declaring Venezuela a threat to U.S. national security.”

AVIVA CHOMSKY, achomsky at salemstate.edu
Aviva Chomsky is a historian, activist and author of eight books, including The Cuba Reader and A History of the Cuban Revolution. She teaches at Salem State University in Massachusetts, where she is also the coordinator of the Latin American studies program.

She said today: “President Obama has received a lot of credit for partially reversing half a century of hostility and taking steps to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba. He himself attributed the change to his recognition that ‘isolation has not worked.’ More likely, the threat of numerous Latin American leaders to boycott the Panama Summit if Cuba was prohibited from attending played a major role in both the recognition and the timing. Obama’s historic meeting with Raúl Castro led many to conclude that the end of the Cold War had finally arrived to the Americas.

“The end of the Cold War, maybe. But not the end to a much more deeply-rooted historical commitment on the part of the United States to impose its will on Latin American countries. Obama has not rescinded the U.S. intention to ‘change’ the Cuban government, or more generally, the U.S. assumption that it has the right to dictate to Latin American countries what kinds of government are acceptable. In the double-speak of U.S. foreign policy pronouncements, Obama claims that the United States will continue, by means other than diplomatic isolation, to attempt to bring about ‘democracy’; ‘freedom’; and ‘human rights’ in Cuba. From a Latin American perspective, the implication is clear: the United States reserves the right to determine what these grand terms mean, and impose its will. Meanwhile, the United States imposed sanctions on Venezuela, labeling the country an ‘unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.’ Obama then claimed that Venezuela should not take the designation seriously, though he also refused to rescind it. While Latin America’s leaders have welcomed Obama’s apparent willingness to open dialogue, they are—and should be—wary that the same arrogant and aggressive policies are merely being offered with some new window dressing.”