Q: Despite rising hopes for renewed U.S.-Cuban relations after the Obama administration relaxed remittance and family travel restrictions for Cuban-Americans last year, rhetoric between Havana and Washington has intensified in recent weeks after Cuba detained a U.S. contractor and accused him of spying, which the State Department denies, and after the United States classified Cuba as one of 14 countries whose citizens must undergo additional screening in order to fly to the United States. Where are relations headed now? Is Obama's Cuban honeymoon over?

A: What we are witnessing is the failure of conditionality as a policy approach toward Cuba. It's ironic that as Raul Castro implements minor reforms at a leisurely pace, he demands expediency when asking the United States to overhaul its policies toward the island, all while his government engages in the sort of vitriolic rhetoric and repressive acts that have frozen bilateral discussions in the past. Given that confrontation with the United States has been the very bedrock of the Cuban Revolution for nearly 50 years, it is not surprising that the Cuban government is once again trying to derail American efforts at rapprochement. That is why conditioning improvements in the effectiveness of U.S. policies toward Cuba essentially puts Raul Castro in control of our foreign policy. The current all-or-nothing approach of U.S. policy toward Cuba has failed to bring any substantive change to the island, has contributed to the isolation of the Cuban people and has provided the regime with a necessary scapegoat for its many failures. The interests of the U.S. would be best served by unilaterally eliminating any policies that contribute to the isolation of the Cuban people. Cuban leaders have thrived on isolation, and thus the free flow of people, resources and information between the United States and the Cuban people represent the biggest challenge to the status quo in Cuba. It is time for the U.S. government to get out of the business of micromanaging Cuba's transition and instead focus on taking steps to eliminate Cuba's isolation regardless of the actions of Cuban leaders.

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Date Title
1/21/10 Current Record