By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
If some parts of the Democratic constituency –civil rights groups, for example– are starting to doubt President Barack Obama’s commitment to real change, Latin America is continuing to see signs that its relationship with the U.S. may be altered in the next months and years.
Cuba has agreed to restart talks with the United States on migration and other issues, an openness from both sides that seemed unthinkable less than five months ago, when there was another tenant in the White House. The talks, in fact, were suspended under President George W. Bush in 2003.
The Washington Post reports this morning that
Cuba has agreed to restart talks with the United States on immigration and has signaled its willingness to cooperate on issues including terrorism, drug trafficking and even mail service, a sign that the island’s communist government is warming to President Obama’s call for a new relationship after decades of tension, U.S. officials said Sunday.
This is not only a sign of a bilateral thaw, since the rapprochement comes in the same week that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is joining Latin American officials for a meeting of the Organization of American States in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Many Latin American governments want the U.S. and Cuba to end their half century of bickering.
“We’ve made more progress in four months than has been made in a number of years –Clinton said Sunday night, according to the Post— and we need to work together to continue that kind of progress, keeping in mind the legitimate aspirations and the human rights of the people of Cuba.”
OAS members, who expelled Cuba from the organization in 1962, want to readmit it now. But, as The New York Times reports Monday, the Obama Administration wants to see some pro-democracy actions taken in the island first.
On Sunday, (Clinton) reiterated that the United States would oppose the efforts of several Latin American countries to immediately reinstate Cuba.
Cuba, the Times said, has rejected the idea of rejoining the OAS.
Although the news may sound momentous, this is just a small step, the Christian Science Monitor reminded Sunday: “it appears that the talks have a limited purpose. They would merely reinstate discussions that had already been taking place before 2003.”
After being largely ignored during the Bush era, Latin American countries may see going back a few years as a step forward.