Now That Obama Has “Normalize” Relations, Cuba Gets Demandy

We’re beginning a new chapter in our relationship, you know

(Wall Street Journal) Cuban President Raúl Castro demanded Wednesday that the U.S. return the base at Guantanamo Bay, lift the half-century trade embargo on Cuba and compensate his country for damages before the two nations re-establish normal relations.

Mr. Castro told a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States that Cuba and the U.S. are working toward full diplomatic relations but “if these problems aren’t resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement wouldn’t make any sense.” (snip)

Cuba has said it welcomes the measures but has no intention of changing its system. Without establishing specific conditions, Mr. Castro’s government has increasingly linked the negotiations with the U.S. to a set of long-standing demands that include an end to U.S. support for Cuban dissidents and Cuba’s removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. (snip)

On Wednesday, Mr. Castro emphasized an even broader list of Cuban demands, saying that while diplomatic ties may be re-established, normal relations with the U.S. depend on a series of concessions that appear highly unlikely in the near future.

The U.S. established the military base in 1903, and the current Cuban government has been demanding the land’s return since the 1959 revolution that brought it to power. Cuba also wants the U.S. to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for losses caused by the embargo.

True demands or negotiating tactics?

John Caulfield, who led the U.S. Interests Section in Havana until last year, said the tone of Cuba’s recent remarks didn’t mean it would be harder than expected to reach a deal on short-term goals, such as reopening full embassies in Havana and Washington.

In fact, he said, the comments by Mr. Castro and high-ranking diplomats may indicate the pressure Cuba’s government is feeling to strike a deal as Cubans’ hopes for better living conditions rise in the wake of Obama’s outreach.

“There is this huge expectation of change and this expectation has been set off by the president’s announcement,” Mr. Caulfield said.

One has to wonder when the leaders of Cuba have ever given a damn about pressure from anyone, other than the leaders of the Cold War era USSR. They certainly haven’t given a damn about any pressure from the Cuban people, because they would just throw those people in jail. At best.

This is, though, what often happens when you give up a lot for virtually nothing in return early in any negotiations.

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