Why is the U.S. pressing Cuba to Establish Diplomatic Relations?
According to news reports, the U.S. is saying "pretty please" and Cuba is saying "not yet":
"The United States is pressing Cuba to allow the opening of its embassy in Havana by April, U.S. officials told Reuters, despite the Communist island's demand that it first be removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism."
Is it any wonder that Cuba keeps asking and asking? Wouldn't you be asking too if you were sitting from someone across the table desperate to make a deal with you?
Cuba's list of demands include returning the GITMO, a difficult request given the role that the naval base is playing in the war on terror.
Apparently, the U.S. wants to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba before a regional meeting in Panama this April. Maybe President Obama wants to take a "selfie" next to Raul Castro!
There are two things that really worry me about this story:
1) The Obama administration jumped the gun on its December 17th announcement. It takes the U.S. Congress to lift the embargo. Furthermore, the aforementioned article also mentions something very important:
"To finalize Cuba's removal, Obama would need to submit to Congress a report stating Havana had not supported terrorism-related activities for six months, and that Cuba has provided assurances that it will not support terrorism in the future. Cuba would be automatically dropped from the list 45 days later.
Getting the embassy open is also tricky.
Converting the six-story U.S. interests sections in Havana into a full-fledged embassy after 53 years would require ending restrictions on the number of U.S. personnel in Havana, limits on diplomats' movements and appointing an ambassador. It would allow the U.S. to renovate the building and have U.S. security posted around the building, replacing Cuban police.
Cuba also wants the United States to scale back its support for Cuban dissidents when the sides meet again. U.S. administration officials have stood firm both publicly and privately that they intend to keep supporting the dissidents.
"I can't imagine that we would go to the next stage of our diplomatic relationship with an agreement not to see democracy activists," U.S. negotiator Roberta Jacobson told a hearing chaired by Sen. Marco Rubio, a vocal Republican opponent of Obama's new Cuba policy."
2) The Obama administration's handling of deal (or "the let's make a deal please please") does not inspire much confidence for the ongoing U.S.-Iran talks. Frankly, the U.S. can make a mistake with Cuba but a bad deal with Iran would be very dangerous.
Let's hope that the U.S. Congress steps in and reminds President Obama that they have a role to play in these talks with Cuba, too!