The so-called "thaw" between the United States and Cuba has been celebrated by many on the political Left and Right in the United States, while disdained by those on the far Right. What has been absent from the conversation has been the voice of the Pro-Global South and the Cuban people in Cuba. It is critical for Westerners involved in this debate to organize the information in a global and historical context that centers on the Cuban people and their interests.
The article is correct in understanding that the "thaw" in relations between the U.S. and Cuba is entirely driven by corporate ambitions. To begin with, agricultural corporations are looking to add 10 million more mouths to feed by replacing the locally grown food production of Cubans with cheap, government subsidized GM foods. I have personally witnessed the disappearance of locally grown foods and the subsequent replacement of corporate food in dozens of countries over the years including The Philippines, South Korea, Mexico and other 'markets' as US corporations dump their cheap goods in the new market until they eliminate all of the small scale competition. Cargill, Monsanto et al could easily "give" free food to every Cuban until local farming methods collapse. At that point these same companies can charge whatever they like once they have control over all aspects of food production and distribution. It's like adding a city the size of New York to your existing customer base, a flower in the corporate cap.
Guantanamo won't close because it is the love child of the U.S. military, a constant reminder to every American and foreigner of the ability to "disappear" anyone who challenges corporate America. Though the world despises Guantanamo, the U.S. government loves their not-so-secret black site where U.S. officials can torture, intimidate and starve anyone they wish without the interference of U.S. courts or public opinion. It is more likely that Guantanamo 'expands' rather than disappears in the event that corporate America secures their foothold in Cuba.
Certain corporations like the MIC might object to thawed relations as it may undermine their desire for perpetual arms production based on unwarranted fears of the "spread of communism". This is unlikely though, as the MIC will never run out of boogeymen to justify their impoverishment of America for the sake of "keeping us safe". Yet treating Cubans as ordinary people does not show any immediate advantage to this particular area of corporate America thus the objections by MIC stooges like McCain and Graham.
Big Oil will undoubtedly enjoy "thawed relations" as they're eyeing the possibility of off shore oil exploration off the coast of Cuba. If Cuban oil reserves turn out to be minimal or non-existent, expect Big Oil to lose interest in Cuba except as a new market for their product.
Corporate retail giants won't be too excited about "thawed relations" simply because Cubans have no income to buy their mass produced, environmentally unsound, Chinese junk. However if given the chance, these same retail giants will gladly allow Cubans the right to low ball other manufacturers in Latin America at a chance to provide the slave labor to produce more locally made mass produced, environmentally unsound junk.
Obama's main directive in "normalizing" relations with Cuba therefore will be to demand no environmental restrictions, the right for U.S. corporations to operate tax free and without legal repercussions in Cuba, to work towards a "free trade agreement" so that U.S. corporations can gobble up any resources they deem valuable and finally appease the Cuban-American population with vague promises of a return to the "good ole days" of Bautista when lawlessness, corruption and the 1% ruled the day.
I hope the government and people of Cuba will realize that their true wealth lies in their pristine environment. That their most profitable and benign industry can be the organic farming products they have learned to develop. That turning the island into a chemical agribusiness and golf courses will destroy their true wealth. That unless they place a cap on personal wealth, a Cuban oligarchy will arise that will enslave them and take them back to the days of Batista. That they must end the racist, fascist War on Drugs imposed by their USAn nemesis and remove that excuse for interfering and invading their country. That they must not let American corporations control their airwaves. Above all, that they should learn from our mistakes and make their laws by popular referendums, not by easily corrupted and intimidated politicians.
" reparations for the people of Cuba who have suffered due to US-imposed sanctions"
While some of Castro's demands make sense, let's not kid ourselves. The Cuban economy is in shambles due to its communist centralized nature like all the other Eastern European communist countries' were in 1989. Cuba could trade freely with any other country except the US.
Consider this: In a few years China will be the biggest player in the Caribbean, controlling a brand-new canal across Nicaragua that will accommodate supertankers and supersized cargo ships too big for the Panama Canal. It's likely that China will want to build one or more large military bases in the Caribbean to protect its huge investment there, and Cuba would make an excellent location for one of those new Chinese bases. I suspect the Cuba regime explained that tactfully, or not, to U.S. officials and began demanding concessions to keep the Chinese out, or at least limit their presence. In any case, the Chinese and Russian fleets soon will be familiar sights off the U.S. coasts as the American Empire crumbles due to its corrupt, inefficient and unrepresentative government. Let's just hope nuclear war isn't part of that process.
How do we measure "shambles"? Education standards? Health standards? Or do you need skyscrapers and ipads?
Your "due to" failed to include 50 years of crippling sanctions and the fact that USA law forbids visits by USA tourists. You say that Cuba could have traded with any other county, but I assume that you mean that Cuba can trade freely with any other country that is willing to defy US sanctions, which is not the same thing all.
The centralised distribution is possibly what separates Cuba from Haiti. Nobody starved. No-one died of malnutrition. Everyone got a solid, if basic health care.
Sanctions have brought countries to their knees and in some cases caused millions of deaths.
Ummm, let's see: Cuba's largest trading partners: Canada, China. US largest trading partners, same... Not too much coercion and pressure there.
I think most Americans have this warped impression about Cuba, like about everything else for that matter. For example, Cuba rations food. You only get that much. The basic healthcare you talk about, is exactly that basic, not solid..., despite what they made Micheal Moore believe.
Tourism from the US to Cuba? Who cares? Cuba's all inclusive resorts are full of tourists from dozens of other countries.
BTW, did you know Cuba imports about half a billion worth of stuff from the US and the US is Cuba's fifth largest import partner?