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2014年12月21日 (日)

米キューバ接近 冷戦の残滓解消に課題は残る

The Yomiuri Shimbun
U.S.-Cuba thaw ends one vestige of the Cold War, but work remains
米キューバ接近 冷戦の残滓解消に課題は残る

A U.S.-Cuba agreement to normalize relations is a historic shift toward dissolving years of hostility, which is a vestige of the Cold War.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro have agreed to move to restore diplomatic relations that have been broken for 53 years.

Bilateral ties were severed in 1961 after the Cuban revolutionary administration led by Fidel Castro, which toppled a pro-U.S. government, confiscated American assets in Cuba. The following year, the United States and the Soviet Union confronted each other over Soviet nuclear missiles deployed to Cuba, bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war. The Cuban Missile Crisis remains an incident symbolizing the Cold War.

Successive U.S. administrations aimed to overturn the “pro-Soviet, anti-U.S.” Fidel Castro regime and did not lift an economic embargo against Cuba even after the end of the Cold War by designating Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism, thereby continuing to isolate Cuba.

Obama denounced such an isolation policy as having “failed.”

Cuba fell on hard times as it lost Soviet aid following the end of the Cold War. Cuba, making scant efforts to carry out economic reform while receiving assistance from the anti-U.S. administration of Venezuela, can hardly be regarded as a strategic threat to the United States.

With progress being made in private-level exchanges between the two countries, centering on the community of immigrants, it has become a general view in the United States that the severance of diplomatic relations is “out of date.”

Concern felt by U.S. political and business circles toward China’s advances into Cuba also contributes to their support to move toward the normalization of bilateral relations.

Regional stability key

True, the U.S. policy on Cuba is a remnant from the days of the Cold War. It is essential to bring about a shift from antagonistic relations toward regional stabilization.

The two countries have exchanged each other’s imprisoned spies. Hereafter, they will reopen embassies and relax restrictions on travel and remittances. A plan for a U.S. communications firm to start business in Cuba will reportedly be coordinated.

However, there are many hurdles to clear in realizing the normalization of diplomatic relations.

There are deep-seated critical views in the U.S. Congress and among middle-aged and older Cuban-Americans. They argue that normalization will condone the single-party rule of the Communist Party, led by the Castro family, and human rights violations.

Removing the Cuban embargo involves many agendas that will require approval by the House of Representatives and the Senate, both controlled by the Republican Party, during Congressional sessions in early January and onward. If Obama tries to take the teeth out of sanctions based on presidential authority, it will intensify a confrontation with Congress.

The Castro administration is wary of the possibility of a long-term economic slump exacerbating the people’s discontent and undermining the foundations of the Communist Party. The Obama administration said it would aim to spur the momentum for democratization through personnel exchanges and the provision of information infrastructure. But no optimism is warranted.

The Democratic Party’s stunning defeat in the midterm elections in November has stuck the Obama administration with lame duck status for the remaining two years of his term, some observers say. We want the U.S. administration to carry out down-to-earth diplomacy without rushing to build a legacy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 20, 2014)Speech


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