The US and Cuba have endured frosty relations for much of the two countries history. The two countries severed their ties in 1961 due to disagreements over the foreign policy and leadership of Cuba. Successive governments in the US since the 1960s have maintained strained relations with Cuba, characterized by economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation. The US prides itself to be a champion of democracy and protection of human rights. However, this situation raises doubts over the nature of the motives of the US when it is interacting with other countries. Human rights play an important role in developing a foreign policy of any country.
The tumultuous relations between Cuba and the US can be traced back to the cold war. As early as 1959, when Fidel Castro yielded power through a coup, the country began taking a different foreign policy and increasing its trading relations with the Soviet Union. Castro ruled the country with his communist ideologies. His government nationalized most of the US-owned properties in Cuba as well as raising taxes for imports for the US. Similarly, the US government reacted by enacting its own economic sanctions such as banning most of the American exports to Cuba. The situation continued to worsen as the USSR continued to build stronger ties with Cuba.
President J.F. Kennedys administration raised the economic sanctions to the next level when proposed a total embargo, which also include very stringent travel restrictions for most Cubans.
With the relations between the two countries worsening by the day, the US opted to take a different approach aimed at toppling Castros government. This led to numerous invasions into Cuba such as the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis. The political and economic embargo implies that Us Corporations are disallowed from doing business with Cuba.
One of the issues that has been at the core of the estranged relations between the US and Cuba is human rights abuse. The US is a known global champion for respect for human rights and its foreign policy revolves around human rights, consequently, the country maintains a strong policy of dissociating itself form countries that promote or those that do not have elaborate frameworks and response mechanisms for addressing issues related to human rights.
Human rights is one of the most critical issues of American policy makers and has been the focal point of dictating relations between the two countries in recent years. Cuba, as a communist nation, does not embrace democratic values. As such, individuals opposed to the government such as political activists often find it difficult to cope with the political situation in the country. Cuba is known to be a very strict regime that does not entertain opposition. This has led to detention of several political activists, torture, unlawful detention and denial of basic human rights such as the right or freedom of speech. In some instances, those opposed to government policies or initiatives are often beaten up, given travel bans, or they are forced into exile. A report by the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) estimates that there are more than 8500 instances of political activists (Rampersad, 23).
The US considers this to be a major violation of humans rights. The leadership in Cuba is regarded as dictatorship given the harsh stances taken by the Cuban government. Thus, the US government maintains that the government in Cuba is not yet reduce to undergo democratic. In order to obtain a conviction for a criminal offender, the prosecutor must be able to prove both proximate and factual causation. For the prosecutor to prove factual causation, they must show that were it not for the defendants action, the consequences would not have occurred as it did or when it happened.
In the same light, Cuba has responded to the human rights abuse in its territory by stating that the US has abused the rights of many individuals in detention like the one in Guantanamo Bay. Consequently, Cuba has also criticized the US government for its double standard when it comes to respecting human rights.
Another issues related to the question of human rights is terrorism. The US State of Defense identifies Cuba as a terrorist group. This emanates from Fidel Castros move in 1982 to train Central American rebels (Rampersad, 19). Designating a whole country as a terrorist group has not worked well for the two countries in trying to reestablish their relations before the embargo.
Nevertheless, despite these key issues defining the relationship between The US and Cuba, there are widespread arguments both for and against the tenuous relations between the countries. For example, some scholars are of the view that it is hypocritical for the US to enforce an embargo on Cuba while progressing to create cordial relations with other countries despite being known for their human rights abuses (Coll, 202).
Therefore, from this perspective, the US business activities in India and China have been touted as some areas where the US has keen interests despite these countries having poor records with managing crimes. If the US government is serious about protecting human rights, it should treat all countries as equal and ban all nations that abuse human rights. The fact that the US can ban Cuba and consider it a terrorism group a implies that all other countries facing the same situation also ought to be banned (Shkolnick, 693). Therefore, it is not fair that the US maintains stronger ties with nations such as China, regardless of the countrys blatant abuse of human rights. Observers are of the opinion that the US benefits a lot from its partnership within.
In conclusion, human rights issues are very important in defining the US-Cuba relations. The US prides itself to be a champion of democracy and protection of human rights. However, this situation raises doubts over the nature of the motives of the US when it is interacting with other countries. Human rights play an important role in developing a foreign policy of any country (Coll, 207).
Coll, Alberto R. "Harming Human Rights in the Name of Promoting Them: The Case of
the Cuban Embargo." UCLA Journal of International Law & Foreign Affairs 12.2 (2007): 199-273. Print.
Rampersad, Indira. Human Rights Groups and U.S. Cuban Policy. Peace Review: A Journal of Social Injustice 18.1 (2006): 17-23. Print.
Shkolnick, Jacob. "Sin Embargo: The Cuban Agricultural Revolution and What it Means for the United States." Drake Journal of Agricultural Law 17.3 (2013): 683-707. Print.
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