A few 'problemas' with those U.S.-Cuba talks

According to news reports, the U.S.-Cuba teams are talking but not agreeing on a lot of things.  The Boston Globe reported this:

"Negotiations between seasoned Cuban diplomats and the highest-level US delegation to visit the island in 35 years failed to produce a single significant agreement — beyond the need for more talks.

As Roberta Jacobson, America’s top diplomat for Latin America, told reporters, ‘‘It’s very hard to say how exactly this will work.’’
The two days of talks were hyped, starting hours after President Obama declared in his State of the Union address that the new engagement effort had ‘‘the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere’’ and provided ‘‘new hope for the future in Cuba.’’
Yet by Friday it appeared negotiators had not advanced Obama’s basic objective: restoring diplomatic ties between the United States and President Raul Castro’s governments.

On Thursday, Jacobson called reestablishing diplomatic ties a ‘‘relatively straightforward process.’’ A day later, her Cuban counterpart suggested a key US demand of unrestricted travel for US diplomats was already being snarled over Washington’s support for dissidents the Cuban government sees as mercenaries trying to dissolve the communist system.

Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s top diplomat for the United States, said US support for dissidents is ‘‘action that isn’t acceptable for Cuba, and they know it.’’

Asked whether Cuba would allow US diplomats to go where they want, she said, ‘‘for Cuba, this consideration is associated with better behavior.’’

At its most fundamental level, the US-Cuba divide comes down to separate visions of where closer ties should lead.

Jacobson said the US goal is a ‘‘free and democratic” Cuba. Vidal outlined a different idea — that of two states with deep differences but no economic or diplomatic restrictions."

The whole thing got a lot more complicated when three GOP Senators confronted Attorney General Holder:

A group of Senate Republicans pressed Attorney General Eric H. Holder on Friday to explain the administration’s policy for U.S. fugitives in Cuba, including a convicted cop killer, following President Obama’s announced normalization of relations with the communist island nation.

“As the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, do you support the normalization of relations with Cuba without the return of fugitives from justice for prosecution who have the blood of Americans, including law enforcement officers on their hands?” said the three senators in a letter to Mr. Holder.

The letter was signed by Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and David Vitter of Louisiana. Mr. Rubio and Mr. Cruz are Cuban Americans.

The senators demanded information about the number of U.S. criminals currently harbored by the Castro regime and the indictments against the fugitives, as well as Mr. Holder’s legal opinion on the plan to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

They also demanded an explanation of Mr. Holder’s involvement in the decision to free three convicted Cuban spies, including one convicted of a murder conspiracy, from U.S. prison and transfer them to Cuba.

Mr. Holder’s office did not immediately respond to the letter or an inquiry from The Washington Times about it."

The Obama administration made a couple of amateur mistakes again when it jumped the gun with Cuba.    

First, the U.S. team leader said that their goal is a "free and democratic Cuba."  Unfortunately, that's not going to happen as long as the U.S. is the one making concessions to the Castro dictatorship.  In other words, the Castro regime smells a weak president, and it will not concede on anything, especially if we lift the embargo without significant conditions.   

Second, it was worse than amateurish to announce the reestablishment of relations with a country harboring fugitives of U.S. law.  Is the Obama administration going to grant amnesty to a woman accused of killing a police officer? or people who are U.S. tax cheats? or whoever else is sitting in Cuba rather than a U.S. jail?

It hurts to see the U.S. represented like this.  It is sad.  

The U.S. is the superpower at these meetings, and we should start acting like it.  The U.S. has all of the cards,e specially negotiating with a cash-starved Raúl Castro who can't get credit from any country and is about to lose his oil subsidy from Venezuela.

In the meantime, the talks are going nowhere.  They will continue to go nowhere as long as the Castro side thinks that Obama just wants any deal, regardless of whether it's good or bad for the U.S.

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