Monday, February 20, 2023

Reasons for Hope (from John McAuliff)

Will we finally turn a corner on US-Cuba relations?

With the caveat that I am prone to see an overflowing glass where others see a bit of dew on the bottom,  there are encouraging signs, not counting the impact of the appointment of Senator Chris Dodd as advisor to the President on Latin America. 

1)  The inconclusive dialogue in the State Department press briefinga on January 13 and 18  about whether the US delegation that visited Havana to discuss cooperation on legal issues was inconsistent with listing Cuba as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (or preparatory to removing it).

2)  Senator Ron Wyden reinvigorated his attack on the embargo after his late December visit to Cuba.  He put special emphasis on a partial lifting that would enable the private sector.

3)  The very positive and wide ranging visit in late January by Delaware's Secretary of State and Secretary of Agriculture seems unlikely if there had been objection by the state's most powerful political figure and long time Senator who is now the President.

(We will hear more about the trip from Paul Johnson.)

4)  The appeal to Cuba's leaders by a high level envoy of the Pope to amnesty July 11-12 prisoners, potentially laying groundwork for a Papal Visit.  ttps://

5)  Reaffirmation by the head of the US Interests Section that their release is a necessary step to change US policy.  (Cuba will never concede that to the US, but a response to the Pope is a different matter.)

6)  President Biden's C-Span recorded comment to Senator Menendez
"Bob, I gotta talk to you about Cuba...I'm serious"

7)  Fabiola Santiago's freak out that Biden may make big changes in US policy

8)  Lula's meeting with Biden; Pres. Obredor's pledge to lead a new campaign against the embargo.

9)  Richard Branson calls for change in both US and Cuban policy, not always accurate and with a history of accommodating US policy shifts, most dramatically during the Trump/Bolton assault on Venezuela

10)  International visitors increased substantially in January.  US numbers are presumably still way down but this upbeat story of a Troy University faculty led trip is encouraging.

11)  "Humanitarian parole" is taking pressure off the migration crisis, reducing risk and removing profit from human traffficking.

12) An upbeat change of pace, a CNN story about the renewal of musical exchange, although the reporter overlooks Cuba's rich classical tradition manifested by the National Symphony, Camarata Romeu, Ars Longa, etc.



Addendum 3/3/23

Cuba is changing because it needs to change.

The question is whether it adopts the Russian oligarchic model of economic and social development or the more open Vietnamese one.

Supporters of both positions  within the Communist Party are in increasingly visible conflict. 

It is in the interest of both the Cuban and US people that the Vietnamese path is taken.

The counter-revolutionary path favored by dissidents, Miami exiles and some in Washington is not viable in any conceivable peaceful scenario.

For better or for worse, the Cuban state was created and is sustained by a completely national force not imposed from outside.  The core of its legitimacy is sovereignty and resistance to US and exile economic and political domination.  However its prosperity, if not survival, depends on a rational mutually respectful relationship with both.

Holding out for US and exile imagined pre-revolutionary democracy makes it more likely that the Russian model will win.     


Posted on the White House contact form

March 17, 2023

Dear Mr. President,

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Discover Irish and Irish American links to Cuba here

It may surprise you that many Cubans look at the US in the way many Irish look at Britain.  Both see a history of political dominance and economic exploitation by their large inescapable neighbor.

Chris Dodd should bring you a Good Friday Agreement with Havana.

John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

Second post to the White House contact form:

Dear Mr. President,

More thoughts for a fulfilling celebration of St. Patrick's Day in the spirit of Father Felix Varela, the advocate for independence, anti-slavery and equal education for women who "taught the Cubans to think" and was the much loved defender of Irish immigrants in New York.

To supplement my earlier message about the Cuba-US, Ireland-England comparison, here's the positive side.

I recognize and welcome the equally inherent positive relationship of neighbors; the cultural, psychological, religious, intellectual and familial links; the occupational flow of temporary or permanent migration.  A normal level of economic integration is inevitable and beneficial.

Undeniably the solution of political conflicts based on mutual respect, most notably by the more to the less powerful, opens many doors.

While some Irish people remain cautious about British attitudes and ambitions, the achievement of independence and the Good Friday peace agreement, even if the country is still divided because of England, created more open and natural ties.

If the US approached Cuba the way we do Viet Nam, with critical but nonintrusive recognition of differences about political systems and human rights practices, and ended unilateral hostile policies like the trade embargo and State Sponsor of Terrorism designation, identification of common interests and our influence will grow substantially. 

Opportunities provided to hostile competitors will also diminish significantly.

John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development


[ For greater success, US policymakers should consider the latest cross-cultural insights from sociologist and Temas editor Rafael Hernandez ]

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