With President Barack Obama final term in office, the Commander-in-Chief attempts to formalize his legacy by engaging in diplomatic talks with Cuba.
Upon the release of American Alan Gross by Cuba and includes the release of three Cubans jailed in Florida for spying, Obama is looking to overhaul relations between the two icy nations. Trade has been frozen between the United States and Cuba for half a century now. Businesses—both big and small—crave Cuban cigars, rum and clothing, but cannot get them at all. Cubans would love to get their hands on the new Toyota or GM automobile, but they’re still driving around in 1950 Chevys.
Each year that passes as trade talks stall, the U.S. economy loses out on $1.2 billion in missed sales, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Meanwhile, the Cuban government says it misses out on $685 million each year because of the embargo. Under Obama’s plan, the countries could ease tensions to open up trade routes between the two countries. As the president and Cuban leader Raul Castro continue their list of announcements, the historic shift marks the end of an “outdated approach” to U.S.-Cuban relations.
The president instructed Secretary of State John Kerry to immediately begin discussions with Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations. In lieu of talks, the U.S. will also re-open an embassy in Havana, Cuba. The administration will also allow some travel and trade that had been banned under a decades-long embargo created during the Kennedy administration. “Neither the American nor Cuban people are well-served by a rigid policy that’s rooted in events that took place before most of us were born,” Obama said.
“I believe we can do more to support the Cuban people, and promote our values, through engagements. After all, these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach,” the president remarked. Talks between the United States and Cuba have been ongoing since June 2013 and were facilitated by the Canadians and the Vatican. Pope Francis, the first pope from Latin America, encouraged President Obama in a letter to renew talks with Cuba.
SOURCE: USA Today