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Three possible outcomes of US-Cuba normalization

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

07-21-2015 16:48 BJT

By Sun Chenghao, assistant research fellow, institute of American studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations and Yan Jin, assistant research fellow, institute of Latin American studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations

As the flag of Cuba was hoisted over the Cuban embassy in the US capital on July 20, the two countries restored full diplomatic relations after more than half a century of lingering enmity rooted in the Cold War. Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez presided over the flag-raising ceremony and met later with US Secretary of State John Kerry. In August, Kerry will travel to Havana to preside over a flag-raising ceremony at the US embassy there. The normalization is not only significant for bilateral relations but also an important factor in exerting influence on geopolitical trends on the American continents.

First, Cuba’s economy is expected to grow with closer economic and political ties. In the estimation of several US travel agencies, the easing of the travel ban will double US travelers to Cuba and bring considerable revenue to the country, greatly enhancing its foreign exchange reserves. After US financial institutions are allowed to set up accounts and US credit and debit cards are authorized for use in Cuba, the financial systems of the two countries are expected to be connected and boost Cuba’s investment environment. Gary Hufbauer, a researcher of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, estimated that a full thaw in relations could open up $5 billion to $10 billion in investment into Cuba.

After the Obama administration has eased the embargo by executive order, the two countries can cooperate in politics, economics, trade and tourism. The reopening of the embassies will make high-level visits and exchanges more frequent, which are conducive to deepening mutual understandings and dispersing mistrusts. Finally they can expand cooperation into counter terrorism, narcotics and human trafficking. Removed from the list of terrorism-supporting states, Cuba can rid itself of financial sanctions and speed up its involvement in integration with Latin America.

Second, the US may return to Latin America and play an influential role in the integration of the region. The rapid economic growth and rising international status of Latin America in the 1990s stimulated enthusiasm for integration and unification. The trend translated into significant anti-US sentiment over its frequent interventions in the internal affairs of many countries in the region. On global issues, Latin America countries adopted policies in line with their own national or regional benefits rather than aping the US position. The Cuba issue constituted  a thorny problem dividing the US and Latin America.

For instance, at the 39th Organization of American States general assembly in the Honduran city of San Pedro Sula in June 2009,  its 34 members unanimously voted in favor of revoking Cuba’s exclusion from the group, placing enormous pressure on the US to end its isolation policy. After the Prism scandal, US relations with Latin America went further adrift. Normalization of US-Cuba relations will help Obama reset Latin America policy and create a new strategic opportunity to regain influence in the region.

Third, just as Cuba is downplaying its anti-American rhetoric, Anti-American sentiment in Latin America is also ebbing. Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, was in the vanguard of the anti-American campaign in Latin America and is the political mentor for generations of left-wing Latin American politicians. He made Cuba a left-wing lighthouse and leader in the anti-American campaign. Reconciliation between Cuba and the US will lead to a more pragmatic approach towards the US from Mexico, Brazil, Central America and the Caribbean region who rely on the US economically. They will tend towards upgrading their economic and trade links with the US. Relatively leftwing South American countries will probably downplay their anti-American rhetoric out of economic considerations against the backdrop of falling oil prices and a domestic recession. Countries like Ecuador and Nicaragua, who have no serious conflict of interest with the US and adopt anti-American rhetoric primarily because a leftwing government is in power, are likely to move closer to the US after normalization.

The road to  normalization  is long and full of hardships. Ending more than half a century of hostility between two important countries in the western hemisphere is beneficial to the peace and development of the region as well as the stability of the whole international environment.  The reconciliation should be welcomed by everyone.


( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )



Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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