Normalizing U.S.-Cuban relations?

A new Reuters poll says 56% of Americans and 63% of Floridians support normalizing relations with Cuba.

In the 2014 Florida gubernatorial election, the candidates are lining up on opposite sides – the incumbent Rick Scott is for the embargo, challenger Charlie Crist is against it. So it might be an actual election-year issue, for once, even though the decision to normalize cannot be made at the state level; might spill over into Florida Congressional races, too.

What do you think? Any chance relations will be normalized this year or next? Or at any time while Raul Castro lives? (I’m thinking Fidel’s death would not be quite enough to change anything, since he’s already retired.)

Let’s keep this in perspective: A U.S. embargo is never going to starve Cuba into submission, because everybody else trades with them. But if we drop the embargo, that means 1) a lot more Americans get to visit Cuba and 2) a lot more Cubans get to visit America. If you want to destabilize the regime*, that’s the way to do it.

It’s mainly the Miami Cubans, voting in a swing state, who have kept the embargo in place 20 years after the Cold War ended.

Really, it is that long since Castro has been any threat to anyone beyond his own shores. The names “Communism” and “Marxism” have lost their power to conjure – the Zapatista rebels in Mexico do not even bother to call themselves “Marxist”; if their rebellion had started 20 or even 10 years earlier, they would have as a matter of course. Not even the Chavistas of Venezuela’s clearly LW “Bolivarian Revolution” seem to mention Marx very much.

If we can trade with Vietnam and China, why not Cuba?

Odd bunch, Miami Cubans. I once briefly worked there, and several young Cuban-American cow-orkers were absolutely confident that not only will Cuba one day be a state of the Union, but that there will one day be a bridge – a bridge you can drive across – across the Straits of Florida from Key West to Havana. That would have to be the longest bridge ever built, and ya better make it hurricane-proof!

  • But I ain’t sayin’ which one. :wink:

It’s about as plausible as ending or dramatically cutting US foreign aid to Israel.

The difference is that the latter is not eventually-inevitable.

It’s a relic of the Cold War that never served any purpose and should have ended long, long ago. I’ve been known to enjoy a glass of Havana Club Anejo Reserva and a Montecristo cigar and I don’t think I’ve made the world less safe for democracy.

Are Cuban Americans even that heavily in favour of the embargo anymore? I’d imagine the generation that fled the revolution must be dead or dying at this point. And the ones that came later would, I think, be at least as interested in being able to visit their birthplace as upholding a largely pointless embargo.

To answer my own question. I found a poll of cuban Americans living in Miami. It appears opinion even there only supports the embargo by a few points. I really don’t think the political price to be paid for lifting it would be that steep, even just in fl.

The corn farmers don’t want our markets flooded with cheap sugar.

Neither does Florida’s Big Sugar lobby.

The position of the American cigar industry I have not heard.

I don’t believe there are any premium American cigar companies, but we do sell the wrappers so I’m fairly sure it would be positive. I doubt it’s Big Sugar that’s keeping the US from normalizing relations with Cuba wrt the embargo.

As with the last 20 or 30 threads on this subject (is it February already? Must be time for another ‘why oh why don’t we drop the embargo with Cuba??’ thread), you can talk about this until your are blue in the face but the reality is that Americans simply don’t care enough to push for it, and unless there is a push it’s going to remain the status quo, at least until both of the Castro’s shuffle off. Which is exactly the same answer I gave in the last threads, and the answer I’ll give in the next ones that will inevitably crop up in the future. If Cuba wants to speed up the process then they are going to have to do something that captures the imagination (or the attention) of the public for why Americans should or would care about dropping the embargo. It’s more in their interest than ours, after all, to do so. Thus far, I’ve seen nada out of them for why we should change the status quo from a nation perspective (from a personal perspective I’m all for it, since I LOVE Cuban cigars and good rum).

And meanwhile, as to the electoral weight of the Cuban-Americans in SE Fla., if it were simply a reason of raw vote numbers you’d just give it one more Census cycle for the Other-Latin-Americans and especially Puerto Ricans (born citizens, can vote as soon as they unpack) in the rest of the state to outnumber them solidly. But however it will take quite a while longer to be able to become as economically influential as a community that has been working at building up their standing for half a century. By the time Florida gets reliably purpled or blued, everyone still left today who was a player in 1961 will have passed or won’t be in any shape to do much, and then we’ll be able to have a sensible discussion.

(Of course, President Delirious would unilaterally end the embargo and the travel restrictions just bloody because if we can normalize with Vietnam it’s damn stupid to keep grinding this axe, but that’s not happenning…)

Castro dying would be a good start.

Maybe we should have a flowchart for these threads.

  1. Is Castro Dead Yet?

No? Go back to question 1.

Yes? Now we can start a thread about normalizing relations.

Obama is not going to waste one ounce of effort on normalizing relations with Cuba, because the Republicans would shit their pants. We need an act of congress to normalize relations, that means the House has to pass a bill, and the House Republicans would never in a million years pass such a bill if Obama is in favor of it. And such a bill would never originate from the House Republican leadership, because they don’t want to give primary opponents a “soft on communism” weapon.

Exactly. And no amount of stunning new polls showing that 56% of Americans support normalization is going to make a bit of difference until Americans WANT there to be a change. Supporting it in some ho hum poll is meaningless unless they care enough about it to agitate for it…and, as was the case in all the other myriad threads on this, they simply don’t care. I wish there was some way to convey that to the hopeful 'dopers, yearning to end the embargo, but there just doesn’t seem to be any way to do that except to keep repeating it…Americans don’t care. It’s not on their radar. No one, be they Republican or Democrat, is going to expend the political capital it would take the change the status quo as long as Americans in general just don’t care. The only way Americans MIGHT care is if there is either a change in the status quo (such as the Castro’s shuffle off) and/or if Cuba actually makes an effort at substantially changing that status quo such that it gets on most Americans radar.

Isn’t the US sugar industry well shielded with subsidies and loan guarantees anyway? How would Cuba go about flooding the US market?

They wouldn’t. Back in the 60’s before the revolution the Cubans had a fairly large percentage of the sugar market in the US (in the 30%+ range), but today? The US use of sugar dwarfs anything Cuba could ever produce, even if they turned all their agriculture to sugar production. Here…take a look. Cuba produces something like 1.6 - 1.8 million tonnes. Sounds like a lot until you realize that the US average use is over 100 lbs of sugar per person per year…or 10,364 thousand metric tons. Cuba wouldn’t even be a major player even if we dropped the embargo tomorrow (same with cigars, though I imagine they would do better with market penetration in the premium market once they ramped up production if they could keep a handle on quality control to protect their brand).

I think that Castro would have to take the Long Nap before any President will give approval for normalization. He made Kennedy eat poo, so, whoever the Prez is ain’t gonna take that lightly.

Right, because communism – in the form of Raul and Fidel Castro – is The Greatest Threat to America in the World Today™. :smiley:

Not that I’m disagreeing with you – you’ve described it exactly right, and it perfectly encapsulates how Republicans think. The ironic thing is that in the iconic category of “brothers who are a threat to American democracy”, the Koch brothers are the clear and present danger. The Castro brothers just want to sell some rum and cigars.

Were people clamoring for renormalization with Vietnam in the 90’s? IIRC, it was largely a project for a few politicians (Kerry, McCain and Clinton) who presumably thought it would be a nice feather in their cap (and not to be overly cynical, because all three presumably thought it was the right thing to do).

I could see something similar happening with Cuba now that public opinion has moderated. Granted given his age and health, Castro will probably die first simply because he doesn’t seem to have long left. But even if he holds on, renormalization seems like low hanging fruit for some pol looking for a project.

That is probably why he has always been so popular. He’s the first leader in Cuban history ever to stand up to the U.S. and make it stick.

For all the gloating of the brothers shuffling off, it’s worth noting that if they’ve been waiting on adversarial American presidents kicking the bucket, they’ve been a lot more successful.