Although a new era of relations between the United States and Cuba came as a surprise to many, President of the Guyana Cuba Solidarity Movement (GCSM) Haleem Khan said he always contemplated that good sense
would have prevailed between the two rivals.
Khan said that many Cubans worldwide, especially in America, have breathed a sigh of optimism and hope for change especially since the release of U.S. contractor, Alan Gross, in exchange for three members of the Cuban Five.
The GCSM president noted that the new modes of engagement announced by Obama on December 17 last, were not an acknowledgement of defeat, but an effort for a new way forward that reflects progressive changes.
“December 17, will no doubt be an important moment in the lives of Cubans and Cuban Americans, but it deserves more analysis and the Obama administration should be commended for basing policy on facts rather than emotions. The US must continue to actively engage with the island, lest we lose the opportunity to influence a neighbour that is gradually rejoining the regional and world economy and political order,” Khan emphasised.
He explained that it is important to understand the evolution towards new relations between the US and Cuba over 20 years in the making, following fundamental security, economic and political changes.
Khan said that the Castros have always been grateful for the support of Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados since 1972 while the Cuban Government has kept its doors open to CARICOM in a spirit of genuine friendship.
He asserted that the Cuban Government is being even more helpful by organising a ‘Business Forum’ in 2015 for CARICOM business people to identify and explore opportunities, and to work out credit and payment arrangements. The Cubans have also made it clear that they are interested in pooling their efforts with CARICOM countries to improve the air and sea connectivity of all the countries. This is an initiative that has been languishing for decades.
Khan said that Cuba and America will now be cooperating to combat human trafficking, improve airline security, and conduct search and rescue operations. In addition, talks have been held on joint efforts to improve public health and guard against environmental degradation.
According to a news report by the Havana Consulting Group, more than 173,000 US residents visited the island just between January and March of this year.
Meanwhile, studies find that money and goods pumped directly into the Cuban economy by Cuban-Americans — as much as $5 billion in 2012 — now outstrip the country’s four major sectors, including tourism as well as nickel, pharmaceutical and sugar exports. That is having a major impact on a population of just 11 million people.
On December 17, 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced the beginning of a process of normalizing relations between Cuba and the United States. Negotiated in secret in Canada and Vatican City over preceding months, and with the assistance of Pope Francis, the agreement would see the lifting of some U.S. travel restrictions, fewer restrictions on remittances, U.S. banks access to the Cuban financial system, and the establishment of a U.S. Embassy in Havana, which closed after Cuba became closely allied with the USSR in 1961.
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