Mar 28, 2016
Barack Obama was the first U.S. president to visit Cuba in 88 years. It’s interesting to note that as soon as Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, after overthrowing the Batista dictatorship that the U.S. had supported, Castro went to New York to talk with the U.S. leaders. Not only didn’t they talk to him, but they cut off diplomatic relations and imposed an embargo on the country.
Two years later, the U.S. organized a failed military invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, hoping to overthrow the Castro regime, which had refused to submit to the U.S.. Castro carried out an agrarian reform, nationalized U.S. businesses, and then turned to the USSR to allow Cuba to survive economically.
A half century of the embargo didn’t enable the biggest power in the world to overthrow the Castro regime. So the U.S. made a full reversal of policy in December 2014, when it announced the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. In 2015, each country reopened embassies, but the economic blockade is still in effect, since the U.S. Congress dominated by Republicans refuses any change.
On the other hand, big U.S. companies didn’t wait for Congress’s OK to invade Cuba. The Castro regime, injured almost immediately by the blockade once aid stopped coming from the USSR, received them with open arms. U.S. capital has started up a tractor factory in Cuba. Others export food products to the island and invest in cell phones, while large hotels are springing up to attract U.S. tourists.
In one year, the U.S. went from the almost total prohibition of direct flights to Cuba to 110 daily flights in the near future.
Raul Castro may have wanted these changes, but above all they’ll benefit big U.S. and European companies. These companies will only exploit Cuban manpower but won’t develop the island. On the contrary, what the Castro regime accomplished in health and education is at risk of being sidelined under the pressure of capitalists for immediate profits.
As for Obama’s cutting remarks to Raul Castro on the subject of democratic freedom during their common press conference, this was above all designed to get the reversal of policy accepted by U.S. reactionaries. If U.S. imperialism was really worried about human rights, it would begin with Guantanamo, which is a U.S. military base on Cuban soil, that Obama promised to dismantle in 2009.