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Normalization of US-Cuban relations: Viewpoint from geopolitical angle
United States Secretary of State John Kerry at the US flag raising ceremony in Havana (Photo: Reuters)

According to observers, a part from positive aspects, the normalization of US-Cuban relations includes the US considerations of aspects such as geopolitics, economics and competition for power in the region and the world; of which geopolitical calculation is always the top priority, manifested as follows:

By normalizing the relations, Washington hopes to constrain and induce Cuba to follow its orbit

Since the historic statement made by presidents of the U.S. and Cuba, on December 17th 2014, many analysts have believed that although Washington’s new policy on La Habana became softer, it also covered plots to “change the regime” of this Caribbean island country. It was manifested clearly in President Obama’s announcement (on December 17th 2014) hinting that the U.S. “would basically change its policy on Cuba” as he thought the previous policy “had no results”. What is more, during negotiations for reopening embassies to the two countries, the U.S. demanded Cuba to ensure that diplomats of the US embassy could be free to travel within Cuba and talk to local people, even oppositional groups. To some extent, the US normalization could be a version of “Peaceful Evolution” strategy that is carried out in a very sensitive period of development of this free island. In this strategy, after the normalization, the U.S. would escalate its intervention into Cuba in familiar issues, such as “democracy”, “human rights”, “freedom of speech”, “freedom of association”, freedom of demonstration and assembly”, etc. Their goal is to establish as many oppositional parties as possible in Cuba, facilitate those parties’ participation in elections, and gradually penetrate into the administrative system, so as to change policies outlined by the Communist Party of Cuba over the past 50 years. To do this, the U.S. would make a series of adjustments in foreign policy on Cuba, i.e. no military provocation; removing the country from “the list of state sponsors of terrorism”; increasing “humanitarian aid” to Cuba through non-governmental organizations, providing young people with scholarships to study in foreign countries, promoting overseas remittance and repatriations of overseas Cubans in order to express goodwill “for the interests of Cuban people”. Then, Washington would start negotiation on compensating for US companies whose assets were confiscated in the 1959 Revolution; pressurizing the United Nations to investigate “human rights” of Cuba; demanding the freedom of political prisoners; engaging in elections under cover of international joint committees for supervision. Washington estimated that under the impact of “Peaceful Evolution” strategy, after the generation of Phidel and Raul Castro, in Cuba there possibly appears a political institution which is still “socialist” as its name, but in fact pursues capitalist values.

Regaining  its influence and credibility in the region

According to international analysts, recently, fundamentally Latin America’s geopolitical environment (used to be the U.S. backyard) has changed. In this regard, Latin American countries are almost left-wing ones, particularly moderate left-wing, in countries like Brazil, Argentina or Venezuela. It considerably undermines the US leading role in the region. Meanwhile, Cuba is both the only socialist country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the motive forces for left-wing movement in Latin America, thus having credibility and close relations with other regional countries. Regardless of the US rejection, Latin American countries often invite Cuba to attend their Summits of the Americas. Recently, Panama threatened not to hold or take part in the Summit in order to request the US permission for Cuba’s coming back into the region’s structure. Therefore, normalizing relations with Cuba is a strategic matter, which aims to maintain the US influence on Latin American region. Moreover, it aims to gradually establish a strategic standing position on this island to respond to other major countries’ increased influence. This is also seen as the best way that could both protect the U.S. from being isolated and make its “backyard” safer.

Competing for power against other countries, especially Russia and China

After the Revolution (1959), Cuba became the first and only socialist state in Latin America. Since then, in spite of the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe and USSR, Cuba still remained steadfast in Marxism-Leninism-based sociopolitical institution. Thus, it is understandable when it has close relations with Russia and China. While the US-Russian relations are worse (due to Ukraine political crisis), it is almost certain that Moscow would restore its military cooperation with La Habana to get balanced against the U.S. In his recent visit to Cuba, President Putin announced that Moscow would forgive 90% of Cuba’s Soviet-era debt. It could be said that by normalizing relations with Cuba, the U.S. would have a chance to regain its geopolitical influence on Cuba and invest in many other Latin American countries where China and Russia are extending their influence. If “coming late”, Washington will be permanently marginalized out of political, economic, and security processes of the region which is considered its “backyard”. Observers believe that the re-opening of its embassy to La Habana reveals the US determination not to let the island country refall into Russia’s orbit like in the Cold War era.

Alleviating disagreement with allied countries

Over the past years, the US sanctions against Cuba not only have been detrimental to the two sides but also affected national interest of Latin American countries as well as the US allies. The US Torricelli and Helms-Burton Acts penalized all foreign companies and individuals engaging in trade with Cuba or investing in the island. This has caused discontent in many other Western countries which want to cooperate with Cuba. Even Canada, a US neighbour, has had no other choices but to adopt measures to protect its companies and individuals who have not conformed to the US acts. Also, many European countries have criticized the US old-fashioned policy on Cuba, damaging relations between the U.S. and its allied countries.

To conclude, by normalizing relations with Cuba, the U.S. hopes to restore its geopolitical status in the whole region, including key allied countries. In a speech delivered to his close consultants at the White House, President Obama said: “Changing policy on Cuba will fuel us so that we can rebuild our leadership role in the Americas”.

Colonel Le The Mau

 

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Life and career of comrade Vo Chi Cong were closely connected with our Party and people’s glorious historical events in the 20th century. He was a role model as a communist. With his noble qualities, he was an excellent student of President Ho Chi Minh. He expressed his absolute loyalty to our revolution’s goal and ideal, while dedicating himself to our Party and people’s revolutionary cause.