Prospects for Cooperative Coexistence
Normalizing U.S.-Cuban relations requires new attitudes in both capitals. Washington has to conclude more can be gained by cooperative coexistence with Havana than by economic coercion aimed at regime change. Havana has to conclude it can have normal relations with the United States without compromising the revolution's core values and independence from U.S. hegemony. Normalizing U.S.-Cuban relations would mean ending various U.S. sanctions: lifting the economic embargo on trade, travel, and investment; ending U.S. opposition to active Cuban participation in international organizations like the World Bank and Organization of American States; and reestablishing diplomatic relations severed in 1961. If Washington abandoned its ambition for regime transition and instead pursued cooperative coexistence, compensation for property would be the principal practical issue to be resolved. The constraints imposed by Helms-Burton would pose a major obstacle to normalizing U.S.-Cuban relations, even if the U.S. president favored rapprochement. President Barack Obama has been explicit in acknowledging the failure of Washington's policy of regime change toward Havana, yet Obama has been trapped in the dynamic of hostility, unable to overcome the inertia of past policy, despite its ineffectiveness.
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