Rising left in Latin America and the Caribbean scorn US policy on Cuba
Band Sarah Marsh
HAVANA, August 2 (Reuters) – The United States has doubled its firm stance and sanctions against Cuba after historic protests on the Communist-ruled island last month and said it would seek support for the protesters.
But many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, a region still marked by Washington’s support for coups during the Cold War and which has shifted to the left in recent years, are asking it to back down instead.
President Joe Biden called Cuba a “Failed state” following the demonstrations of July 11 and 12 against a economic crisis and restrictions on freedoms. His administration imposed Newpunishments on those who repressed the demonstrators and promised the politically important Cuban-American community, more action was to come, such as efforts to help Cubans bypass “censorship”.
While the Costs the sanctions are largely symbolic, they suggest a return to a period of relaxation under former president Barack Obama is not there.
The right-wing governments of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Honduras joined the United States last week to release adeclaration condemning the mass arrests and calling for the full restoration of interrupted internet access.
Yet only 20 foreign ministers around the world joined in signing the letter, signalallis lying how relatively isolated Washington is about its Cuban policy, analysts noted. Same we allies like Canada who condemned the Cuban crackdown and supported the protesters’ right to free speech did not sign.
Meanwhile, Cuba’s left allies in Latin America and other Caribbean island nations have focused their response on the US embargo’s contribution to the country’s current humanitarian crisis, urging Washington to lift the sanctions. Mexico, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia have sent help.
Some countries in the region have also warned against we interfere in the internal affairs of Cuba.
These regional divisions surfaced last week when the Organization of American States had to postpone a meeting on the human rights situation in Cuba over objections from more than a dozen member states.
“Any discussion could only satisfy the political hawks in view of the American midterm elections where winning South Florida with the support of Cuban exiles would be a price,” wrote the Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to OAS, Ronald Sanders, in a column published on the digital platform Caribbean News Global.
“The task of the OAS should be to promote peaceful and cooperative relations in the hemisphere, not to fuel division and conflict.
He had sent a letter on behalf of 13 countries of the Caribbean Community or CARICOM – which although small, represents an important voting bloc in the OAS – urging the body to reconsider the “unproductive” meeting, while other countries sent similar missives.
REJECTION OF THE OAS, FOREIGN INTEGRATION
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said last month that the OAS should be replaced “by a truly autonomous body, not anyone’s lackey”, sentiments echoed by the Argentinianian president Alberto Fernández.
He also said he thought Biden had to take a decision about the embargo against Cuba given that “almost every country in the world” is against it, while Fernandez said it is not for any other country to decide what Cubans should do.
Mexico, Argentina and Bolivia have all moved to the left in recent years, while Peru voted last month for a socialist leader and Chile and Brazil appear poised to movement left in the elections scheduled for this year and next.
“We appreciate the countries that have stood up for Latin American and Caribbean dignity,” said Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, who accused US-backed counterrevolutionaries of being behind the protests after years open US funding for democratic programs on the island.
The president of the OAS Permanent Council described objections to the Cuban meeting as particularly unusual.
A spokesperson for the US State Department said he was “deeply disappointed” that the OAS meeting did not take place, adding: “The peoples of the Americas have the right to hear from the Inter-American Commission of human rights on the situation in Cuba ”.
“We will continue to work within the OAS to push for democracy and human rights in Cuba and the Americas and are confident that this briefing will indeed take place in the coming days.
William LeoGrande, Professor of Government at American University in Washington, said the problem was that the OAS had, under Secretary General Luis Almagro, “taken a strident partisan stance fully aligned with US policy.”
Biden inherited a regional foreign policy from former US President Donald Trump focused primarily on Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela, which had alienated much of Latin America, said LeoGrande, noting that the poll of The opinion of the Latinbarometer showed a sharp decline in the image of the United States. .
The OAS General Secretariat declined to comment while the State Department spokesperson said that “Almagro’s leadership in supporting democracy and respect for human rights in the Americas” brought the OAS back to its original purpose.
Biden, a Democrat, had promised during his presidential campaign to relax some of the sanctions against Cuba hardened by his predecessor Donald Trump, a Republican, giving hope for a return to the relaxation of the Obama era.
But analysts say the protests have complicated his wiggle room, especially after he performed worse than expected with voters in South Florida’s anti-Communist Cuban-American community, which backed the harsh policies of Trump to Havana and helped him win the presidential election state of the battlefield.
The Democratic National Committee launched a digital ad campaign in Florida last week highlighting “Biden’s commitment to the Cuban people and his condemnation of communism as a failing system.”
(Reporting by Sarah Marsh; Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick editing by Alistair Bell)
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