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Uncategorized What's really behind Obama's Cuba move

What’s really behind Obama’s Cuba move

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48hillsobama

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

DECEMBER 23, 2014 — There were two big takeaways from President Obama’s Cuban opening. The first is obvious. After 55 years of U.S.-backed invasions, covert efforts to sabotage and overthrow Fidel Castro, an embargo, and a Cold War freeze in diplomatic relations, the U.S. policy toward Cuba has been an abject failure. Raul Castro remains the official government head, and Fidel, is still a presence in Cuban life and a bigger than ever figure internationally. Obama took the logical step that almost certainly would have been taken years ago, except for a politically retrograde GOP and older, politically connected Cuban Americans, and that is to normalize relations with the island.

Obama pointed to the obvious when he said the old policies, meaning containment and subversion, didn’t “make sense.” More Cubans are travelling to wherever they can get a visa, political dissent and expression is more open than ever, and there are more private owned businesses and farms in Cuba. While Cuba is still officially a one party-state, Cuban leaders have repeatedly made clear they are committed to real reforms. In an extended visit to Cuba a decade ago, I saw firsthand the changes in tourism, trade, and people-friendly relations in Havana and other cities that I visited.

Given that, and the polls that show that a majority of Americans want an end to the embargo, Obama’s move was more a pragmatic than a bold step. Still, the devil is in the details about how quickly there will be full official diplomatic relations, free trade and free exchange of goods, services and technology, a formal lifting of the embargo, foreign investment, travel, and family relations restored between Cubans in the island and those living here.

But the commonsense move to normalize relations is less important than the timing of the move and the domestic political consequences of it.

The prolonged and outdated battering of Cuba was never because it posed any real military or economic threat to the U.S. It was about U.S. domestic politics. Ten presidents before Obama were held hostage to the GOP-Cuban lobby and the fear of being branded soft on Cuba. This was tossed at any president and seen as the political death knell for Democratic presidential contenders. This unremitting hostility has not abated. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, have repeatedly spoken out against any normalization of relations. Rubio was even more strident on the pending thaw, calling it “disgraceful.” All have their eye on a 2016 White House bid. All, as in the past, were playing the anti-Castro card, to the conservative GOP base.

Obama’s Cuba initiative can’t be separated from his escalating defiance of the GOP. In the aftermath of its November mid-term election shellacking, the Democratic Party has been in a desperate search to find its legs. It has been denounced for not fighting back harder on issues from opposition to the Keystone pipeline, the relentless GOP assaults on the Affordable Care Act and the recent budget deal that was stuffed with financial giveaway goodies to Wall Street.

With the White House and even more Senate and Congressional seats on the line in 2016, Obama is still the key to Democratic hopes for a strong comeback. Obama’s willingness to weld the executive pen on immigration reform and a defiant promise to use it whenever and wherever he can to push initiatives that a GOP -controlled House has stymied at every turn is crucial to the party.

Possible 2016 Democratic presidential contenders Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders were quick to pick up on the significance of Obama’s Cuba normalization proposals and applaud them. It puts the Democratic Party firmly on record as reversing a failed, flawed policy that’s been an albatross around its neck for decades. Clinton, the presumptive favorite for the Democratic nomination, would be the first official presidential candidate to call for full normalization.

Obama’s Cuba move can’t be considered on the groundbreaking magnitude of Nixon’s China opening or Reagan’s working both sides of the street with the Soviet Union, promoting exchanges between students, scientists, artists, and local officials while proclaiming the avowed intent to bring down the “evil empire.” But it sent a welcome signal that on a thorny foreign policy issue such as Cuba, Obama will not succumb to GOP mania and intimidation. This makes his Cuba opening more than just about Cuba.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter:twitter.com/earlhutchinson. This story comes from New America Media.

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

65 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks, Margarita. Incidentally… on another thread, when I said “you don’t understand and you don’t want to understand”… that was not directed at you. That particular comment was directed at the person who was responding to you (4th Gen SFer, I think)

    By the time I saw your response to the comment, many days had passed so I didn’t bother posting there.

  2. “I’d hardly single out America as being alone there. Is there anyone with a more binary viewpoint than an Islamic fundamentalist?”

    Whom we supported, btw, often as a counterweight to Communism. Yeah, that worked out real well in Afghanistan. Nobel Prize winner Malala, whom the West so adores for her simplistic, non-threatening message (at least to western corporate hegemony)… she would have had no problem at all going to school in Soviet-dominated Communist Afghanistan. But to US imperial ambitions, chaos was more palatable than Communism. And fundamentalism more palatable than democracy, as we see in our support for the most repressive regime in the world, Saudi Arabia.

    “And at least we don’t behead or stone to death someone who transgresses Christian doctrines.”

    No, we just bomb them indiscriminately. Tearing children’s flesh off their bones is much more civilized when done from 30,000 feet. Not for transgressing Christian doctrines, of course. But then, Christianity isn’t really the driving force behind American policy. Imperialism is. Washington could care less what god they worship, as long as they pledge loyalty to US corporate power.

    “And communists are much alike, where they rewrite history to persuade their people that their leaders are always right and that foreign powers are evil.”

    And this is different from US capitalists… how???

    “But that said, you can hardly expect the US to not encourage and reward Cuba for taking a path that is more aligned to a market economy. ”

    It’s one thing to encourage; quite another to actively destabilize.

    “And I doubt that influence would ever be as aggressive as the manipulations that the Soviet Union tried to project.”

    Oh I don’t know about that. It’s difficult to argue with the notion that within their respective countries, living conditions were generally better in the US than in the Soviet Union. However, looking back at the history of support in other countries, more often than not it was the Soviet Union that supported the side that was more democratic, more popular, and would produce better conditions for their people. A few examples that come to mind (by no means an exhaustive list): South Africa, Congo, Libya, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Greece, Spain (1930s), Chile, Nicaragua… and Cuba.

    For all the faults of the Cuban revolution, it was a big improvement over the Batista dictatorship.

    But again… this is binary thinking. Neither the United States nor the Soviet Union were ever really interested in freedom and democracy. It is often talked about how intolerable it is for the United States to have a “good example” around… a nation where socialism and improvement of economic equality coexists with individual liberty. Allende’s Chile is much more threatening in this regard than Kim’s North Korea. Because the latter is a caricature that can be easily dismissed -in fact it serves as a convenient foil. But the former needs to be stamped out because it holds enough appeal as to potentially infect others… eventually even the US itself.

    The problem is that a truly good example was intolerable to the Soviet Union as well. That’s why reformist communism such as in Hungary and Czechoslovakia were so dangerous -the people weren’t demanding capitalism. They just wanted a better, more democratic socialism. And that was something intolerable to the leadership of the Soviet Union.

    Cuba is relic of that time -an anachronism. At the time it was necessary. If the Cuban government wasn’t what it was, it would long ago have been overthrown. Allende wanted to bring about socialism democratically. Fidel visited Chile in 1972, and warned Allende that that wouldn’t fly. The Empire wouldn’t allow it. Fidel was unfortunately proven right. And perhaps it’s still necessary for Cuba to be less democratic than what would be ideal, because when the largest superpower in the world is 90 miles away and has never stopped trying to overthrow your government, you kind of have to remain on a war footing.

    But in general, times are changing. The Empire is still incredibly powerful, and attempts at world domination are still ongoing. But that power is declining. An independent, democratic government in Venezuela has survived for 16 years and counting -and without a superpower sponsor. Sure, we still spend millions to fund an ongoing destabilization campaign, and we do what we can through control of the financial system. But if this was the 80s we would have just sent in the Marines on some pretext. If this was the 50s, we would have dispensed with even the pretext.

    It’s a different world when even a little country like Ecuador can kick out the US military from the country (not to mention sheltering a political dissident). Along with the decline of the American Empire, comes the rise of the BRICs as alternative poles of power. And generally, the world is becoming less tolerant of raw force being used to get what you want.

    All these things give me hope that people throughout the world can eventually achieve self-determination and real democracy (which must include economic democracy and democracy in the workplace in order for it to be meaningful). And yes, it will be a form of socialism -because only socialism is compatible with democracy. But it won’t be kind of socialism where unaccountable bureaucrats make economic decisions. There’s no reason to hound mom and pop restaurants, or have artists and writers and creative types be employees of the state. These things aren’t necessary for workers to control the means of production, which is all that socialism really is. Even mega-corporations can be successfully run in a democratic fashion, as Spain’s Mondragon collective is demonstrating.

    That’s the model of a humane and democratic socialism that I’m talking about. Marx was correct about the problems of capitalism, but his view of socialism’s potential was limited by his time. I don’t think Marx could imagine what a truly democratic socialism could represent. How could he? There wasn’t much democracy during his time, and the few countries that were nominally democracies in the mid-1800s were deeply flawed. If a nation possessed the kind of “democracy” today that was present in the United States when he wrote “The Communist Manifesto” in 1848, I doubt that even Freedom House would label such a country “free.” And while our democracy has progressed since those days, we’re still guided by essentially an 18th century vision of what democracy means. The ideal of a 21st century Socialism, as expressed by Hugo Chavez and others, will look nothing like either the 18th century ideal of “democracy” and capitalism that guides America, or Marx’s 19th century Communist ideal. It will be more humane and more democratic than either. And no, not even the democracies of Latin America have realized that ideal, but they are beginning to go down that path, and this gives me a lot of hope for the future.

  3. I read that article and did come away with the impression that the dissidents, while maybe not “ruthlessly”, are repressed for their criticism of the government. In the second paragraph, the author wonders if each post will be his last. While that is open to interpretation, I took it to mean that he fears being arrested for publishing his views on their government. If everyone here in the States who criticized the government were subject to arrest, 90% of the population would be in prison.

  4. Mike, the New York Times today has an editorial about a growing blogging community in Cuba. The bloggers walk a fine line a fine line, but I didn’t get the impression that any dissents they express are “ruthlessly repressed”. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/24/opinion/cubas-promising-new-online-voices.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region.

    In any event, the point is probably moot. With the advent of trade and travel between Cuba and the U.S. communist authorities will find it increasingly difficult to control the message and ultimately will have to live with dissent and disagreement.

  5. Greg, I’d agree with you that the average American sees a simplistic binary world. The question “are you for us or against us” is enshrined in the Old Testament and informs much of western thought to this day.

    That said. I’d hardly single out America as being alone there. Is there anyone with a more binary viewpoint than an Islamic fundamentalist? And at least we don’t behead or stone to death someone who transgresses Christian doctrines. While the concept of “democratic communism” is almost an oxymoron.

    And communists are much alike, where they rewrite history to persuade their people that their leaders are always right and that foreign powers are evil.

    You are correct that a market economy is not the literal polar opposite of totalitarianism. But historically there has been a clear correlation between the countries that have a market economy and those which practice some form of popular democracy. The right-wing totalitarian states had their heyday in the 1930’s. when many young idealistic working-class people supported fascism, but WW2 and the Spanish civil war pretty much killed off that movement. Hitler and Stalin were bitter enemies and yet had much in common.

    Finally, I’d agree that the Cubans should decide their future and that the US should not unduly meddle. But that said, you can hardly expect the US to not encourage and reward Cuba for taking a path that is more aligned to a market economy. And I doubt that influence would ever be as aggressive as the manipulations that the Soviet Union tried to project.

  6. i have been to Cuba six times since the mid-1980s. The changes has been profound. The biggest: the underground economy (mom & pop capitalism), which has always flourished to some extent under the Fidel dictatorship, is no longer afraid of the authorities.

    I will miss the old Chevys and hate the Burger King franchises, but the Cuban people will be better off once the dictatorship folds completely. Cuba is run by an aristocracy of communist bureaucrats who don’t have to worry about trivial stuff like the rule of law.

  7. Carter didn’t fund the Contras. Reagan did. I’m talking about the decision to de-escalate the embargo on Cuba and take steps toward normalization, including allowing Americans to travel there.

  8. One of the problems is that Americans, who don’t understand what socialism and communism (or democracy for that matter) mean, have this binary view -either you’re for neoliberal “free” markets, or totalitarian communism. And “free” market = democracy.

    The truth, of course, is much more nuanced. Most of the countries in Latin America are turning away from US style capitalist “democracy,” having realized that true democracy is as incompatible with an unrestrained market economy as it is with dictatorial communism.

    Whatever choice the Cuban people make, hopefully they’ll get to make on their own, without the meddling of the US… and without the meddling of the Cuban exile community, whom Cubans of whatever stripe regard as having forfeited their right to decide the country’s destiny.

  9. > How could you or Gary possibly come to the conclusion that the majority of Cubans would prefer communism over democracy and capitalism?

    Can’t say for Cubans, but according to the poll, 59% of ex-Soviets citizens said that there are more good sides to communism than bad, 23% have the opposite opinion. Further, 43% of Russians want their society to follow communist ideas, 19% are against. (Source: http://rusplt.ru/society/fom_kommunizm.html). These are people that actually lived under both communist and capitalist regimes, so they can compare. Unlike some American intellectuals, who created an ideological boogeyman in their imagination, and now vilify it to their hearts content.

  10. You’re right Gary, I misread your post.

    But no countries want to go to communism. I can’t think of any country that is/was communist and, when given the choice, stayed communist.

    And yes, I do agree with you that the U.S. shouldn’t meddle. I’d wager money that given the opportunity, the Cuban people will choose to go to a free market economy. Even communist countries like China and Vietnam understand that straight communism is a failed system and embraced capitalist reforms.

  11. “Perhaps he just thought it was pointless and it needed to end.”

    Sorry, but no. Washington just doesn’t work that way. Well… in a sense, yes. But not in the way you mean. I think that kind of thinking might have been guiding Jimmy Carter’s decision, but not Obama’s. It is pointless, because it’s become counterproductive to US imperialistic goals. But if you’re trying to argue that the US doesn’t have goals of dominating the hemisphere (not to mention the world) …please, don’t insult people’s intelligence.

  12. “How could you or Gary possibly come to the conclusion that the majority of Cubans would prefer communism over democracy and capitalism?”

    I NEVER concluded that. I asked the question – “what if the majority of Cubans want to continue communism. . .”

    I did so in response to US politicians saying that we need to move Cuba to a ‘market economy.’ No, we need to let the Cubans decide, which I agree that they can’t do now.

    But what we really need to do is NOT meddle.

  13. Perhaps he just thought it was pointless and it needed to end.

    Since he isn’t running for election again he doesn’t have to worry about the hysterical right wing Florida Cuban’s swinging the state either way in an election. By the way many democrats fawned over the Cuban crackpots over the years.

    Sometimes something is what it is. People who see conspiracy in everything are just hard wired that way, they want to conspire so they think everyone else does as well.

  14. Answer his point Greg. How could you or Gary possibly come to the conclusion that the majority of Cubans would prefer communism over democracy and capitalism? Like Sam said, there is one party and one voice. Dissent is ruthlessly suppressed. You know what happens when communist governments are faced with popular protests and calls for democracy and reform? Ask people who were in Hungary in 1956. Or the Czechs in 1968. Or the Chinese in 1989. You were talking about the U.S. police getting tanks (which BTW, you never did say which U.S. city did actually have tanks)? There are your tanks and machine guns on city streets.

    If communism is so great why do people risk their lives to flee communism? I don’t see people jumping on rafts to get from Miami to Cuba. Or crossing minefields and machine guns to escape from South Korea to get into North Korea. And I’m pretty sure the East Germans and Soviets didn’t build the Berlin Wall because too many West Berliners were trying to get into East Berlin.

  15. Ha, trendy gluten free and vegan complainers are so much more superior to obese Americans in their pastel Disney outfits.

  16. I wish the world worked like you just described -I really do. But the truth is that the Monroe Doctrine is still in effect for all intents and purposes. We still try to meddle and destabilize governments. Just this century, in addition to the two coups I mentioned, and Haiti which I forgot about, we also had a hand in supporting attempted overthrows of governments in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela (twice). And Cuba -we never stopped trying to destabilize Cuba. Look at the “Cuban Twitter” program.

    Hell -look at Allen Gross. The US media rarely delves in depth as to who and what Allen Gross really is, usually only mentioning that he is a contractor. A contractor for who? Answer: he’s a contractor for USAID. And what is USAID? USAID is an organization fully funded by the US government and by both major political parties which, under the guise of “democracy promotion,” seeks to destabilize other nations. Allen Gross now admits that he was sent by the government. He even whined about how his government sent him and then ostensibly abandoned him. His cover story had been that he was bringing internet access to Cuba’s Jewish community, but what he was really doing was providing communication equipment to those looking to overthrow the government. In short, Allen Gross was a spy.

    As for the focus on Asia -in particular containing China, that is true enough. But Washington hasn’t forgotten about Latin America either -not by a long shot.

    Incidentally, they can’t succeed in containing China. China will be the biggest superpower of the 21st century, it will happen sooner than anyone thinks, and short of the destruction of all of humanity through nuclear war, there is absolutely nothing the US can do to stop that. China will have a powerful ally in resource-rich Russia, powerful in its own right. And in Latin America, Brazil and not the US will be the country that is looked to for regional leadership. That is the power arrangement of the 21st century, and the sooner the US learns to deal with it by adapting to its new role as a nation that can play nice with others in the world community, the better it will be for all of us.

  17. “Gary, how would anyone know what Cubans want? They’re not allowed to express their opinions, let alone vote. There’s only one party and there is no free speech or press. What we do know is that Cubans have been risking their lives for decades to escape from Cuba. That can be measured.”

    We do know that Cubans have been escaping for decades. We don’t know their reasons – is it that they feel oppression, or are they seeking economic opportunities or is it that they want to be with family members? Who knows.

    And I agree with you about many of the problems with freedom of expression, etc in Cuba. Interestingly, the underlying ‘rules’ of pure communism don’t discuss squashing any criticism (or rampant homophobia), but every communist country does prohibit ‘free speech’ and is homophobic (Cuba not so much now). I think it is a problem of the theory of an economic system (communism) not aligning with human behavior. Also, often communism is implemented after war or revolution and that may factor into this aspect of life under communism.

    But then, the view of the US from Cuba regarding life in the US is probably equally troubling to Cubans. For example, their approach to healthcare, which definitely WAS impeded by the embargo, is superior to ours, when looking at outcomes (don’t ask me for a link – Google it yourself).

    That said, what I wrote still stands. If we want to bring democracy to Cuba, we can’t do it by insisting that they move to a ‘market economy.’

    And anyone who still supports this embargo – which still remains – is a idiot.

  18. There is a simpler explanation, and that is that central and south America are no longer as strategically important to the US. In fact, the two issues there that most voters are concerned about are immigration and illegal drugs. Other than that, most Americans can afford to ignore everywhere south of the border, outside of a few beach resorts.

    Culturally we feel closer to Europe, while economically the focus has been on Asia for some time. The only two Hispanic nations that could ever have attained real power – Brazil and Argentina – have failed in different ways to achieve their potential. And the rest are various grades of banana republics that can be discounted. While Mexico is mostly in our pocket as long as they keep their gang wars on their own turf.

    And of course world communism has almost died, so Cuba has gone from being a communist fifth column in the Americas to a small, irrelevant island in an area where there are much nicer vacation spots and better economies.

    You can look for complicated conspiracy theories here but the reality is that we’ve all moved on from the Monroe Doctrine. We’re much more worried about China. Latin America is now viewed more like Africa i.e. not really viewed much at all.

  19. “Cuba . . never . .posed any real military or economic threat to the U.S”

    Never, Earl? Really? Not in the Cuba Missile Crisis? The reason there is no military threat from Cuba is because we stopped it, and not because they didn’t want to have it.

    “So what if the majority of Cubans want to continue communism or some other economic non market-based economic system,”

    Gary, how would anyone know what Cubans want? They’re not allowed to express their opinions, let alone vote. There’s only one party and there is no free speech or press. What we do know is that Cubans have been risking their lives for decades to escape from Cuba. That can be measured.

    “Cuba is a nation virtually devoid of The Ugly American”

    Ah, so Greg (not American born or raised) takes on the mantle of deciding for us which Americans are “good” and which Americans are “ugly”?

    Gee, whatever we do without a foreigner judging us?

  20. Because Clinton was a neoliberal imperialist. We need to look at US foreign policy as one continuum. The difference between the Democrats’ version and the Republicans’, is that the Republican version is more blunt and in your face. In the case of Bush the Younger, it was just notably stupid and ineffective. But whether it’s Bush, Reagan, Clinton, Obama, or whomever, the goals remain the same: total world domination and advancement of the interests of the US corporate elite. The differences are in style, not substance.

    So the question is not so much why didn’t Clinton do it, but why *did* Obama? Because the policy as it was, is now untenable. Bill Clinton didn’t have to deal with left-wing independent (of the US) governments in Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile, Cuba, and most Caribbean states. Clinton could isolate Cuba in the Americas. Now it’s the US that’s being isolated. Sure, we succeeded in overthrowing left-wing governments in Paraguay and Honduras, but that’s a far cry from the kind of hegemony that The Empire enjoyed under Clinton.

    What? You think Obama is doing this because it’s the right thing to do? Obama didn’t get to where he is by doing things because it’s the right thing to do, and he ain’t about to start now.

    *There is one exception to this… Obama is actually *not* the first president who took steps to normalize relations with Havana. Jimmy Carter was. In some ways he went further than Obama. From 1977 to 1981, Americans could travel to Cuba. Jimmy Carter was an exception to virtually all American presidents, in that morality actually did play at least some role in foreign policy decisions. He also welcomed the Sandinistas into the White House, who had just overthrown the feared US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza, signaling a new direction in US policy in Latin America -at least we’re not going to be overthrowing your governments any more. Carter lasted one term. There’s a reason Carter known as “the accidental president.”

    Reagan came in in 1981, and the rest was history. The embargo on Cuba was tightened, the leftist president of Panama would mysteriously die in a plane crash within months, the government of Grenada would soon be overthrown by US invasion, and a covert war would begin to destabilize the government of Nicaragua. US policy towards Latin America was back to “normal.”

  21. It has been enlightening to listen members of Congress who support this. First they say that we need to move Cuba to “democracy” and almost always in the next breath, they say we need to move Cuba to a ‘market economy.’

    So what if the majority of Cubans want to continue communism or some other economic non market-based economic system,

    I guess we really don’t want democracy for Cuba.

  22. The “ten president” thing looks impressive, but then: no Republican, especially from Reagan onwards, would touch Cuba. A Democrat would do it, but not during a first term, when such a move might endanger reelection. The only two-term Democrats in the last 50 years have been Clinton and Obama. So I would wonder first why Clinton didn’t do it during his second term, when, like Obama, he had little to lose from such a move.

  23. …not to mention just because, without any stinkin’ permission from the government. Which in my mind, is just as valid a reason as any. It’s a free country, right?

    And that brings me to the reason why I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I’m 100% in favor of normalization. It’s the right thing to do. OTOH, Cuba is a nation virtually devoid of The Ugly American. Note: I didn’t say devoid of Americans. Americans, as you said, have been going to Cuba for decades. But the kind of Americans who currently travel to Cuba, however they may get there, are doing so with respect. When we have full normalization, we’re going to see both the volume of travel and the type of traveler from America change drastically. Up till now, there was a certain innocence about Cuba, and that innocence will be lost.

  24. I fully agree with garysfbcn’s comments, and I would expand on them. Even more than domestic politics, this is about imperialism. The US has grown increasingly isolated diplomatically in Latin America, a region that Washington imperialists have long considered their “back yard.” Cuba is a big part of that. Latin America is pursuing regional integration agreements that include Cuba and notably exclude the US. Even at the OAS, an organization the US has long dominated, Washington is becoming increasingly isolated. I think the Washington aristocracy, of which Obama is the current figurehead, realized that US Cuba policy needs to change if the US is going to have influence in Latin America. The fundamental problem the US faces is that the countries of Latin America want to be treated with respect, as equals, something the US has been thus far unwilling to do. We’ll see if it can make the fundamental changes in policy needed for it to rebuild those relationships. It’s a good first step.

  25. I feel that it’s time. People have been going back and forth for years now, on cultural trips, on health trips – Cuba has offered FREE healthcare to Americans who could not afford care here, etc.

  26. I support what Obama did, however, I don’t think his motives are exactly pure. To me, this feels more like a political strategy for the next presidential election than anything else. And unless we encounter problems it will be a successful strategy in that it will further divide the Republican party. Immigration reform started that process.

    But I believe that in this era of social media, symbolically, this is bigger than Nixon in China.

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