The U.S has recently decided to ease the restrictions placed on Cuba from the embargo imposed in 1960. President Barack Obama plans to renew diplomatic relations with Cuba and work towards reestablishing an embassy in Havana. The embargo keeps Americans from doing business, spending money, and traveling to Cuba.
Obama hopes to “cut loose the shackles of the past, so as to reach for a better future for the Cuban people, for the American people, for our entire hemisphere and for the world.”
Obama has instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to immediately begin discussions with Cuba and work towards eliminating a decades-long ban that was placed under the Kennedy administration. Obama is said to have had a lengthy phone conversation with Cuban president Raul Castro. This marks the first attempt by the U.S. to resolve issues with Cuba.
Despite efforts to mend their relationship, the U.S. and Cuba have made it unclear whether the embargo will be fully lifted. Both countries have made the conscious effort, however, to put aside their differences in order to achieve peaceful relations.
Alan Gross, a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, had been working on improving internet in Cuba when the Cuban court found him guilty and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. His imprisonment helped move the two countries towards trade negotiations and talks of issues like human rights and democracy.
Students and faculty at MAST have also expressed opinions on the changing status of the Cuban embargo. Sophomore Joshua Escalona is in full support of Obama’s move to normalize relations with Cuba.
“I support Obama in trying to lift the Cuban embargo. It will allow for greater business and economic opportunities,” Escalona said.
Also supporting the lift of the Cuban embargo is junior Luis Paez. “I am for the lifting of the Cuban embargo. I think it will help facilitate economic and social opportunities in Cuba,” Paez said.
Obama’s announcement to loosen the restrictions placed on Cuba has raised concerns for many Americans. The financial opportunities will no doubt open once the Cuban embargo is put to rest, but many worry for the Cuban people, and whether the embargo might enhance the oppression they endure.
Social studies teacher Richard Cabrera, for instance, is wary of the political exchanges happening between the U.S. and Cuba.
“In the lifting of the Cuban embargo there is no guarantee that the Cuban people will benefit, either economically or human rights wise,” Cabrera said.
The Obama administration’s efforts to reconcile with Cuba demonstrate the changing shift in politics. The rivalry present during the Cold War era is slowly disappearing, and the U.S. is working towards achieving strong diplomatic relations with Cuba that will foster financial and democratic reforms.