Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

U.S. And Cuba Mend Frayed Ties With Summit

At long last Cuban Cigars are allowed on U.S. soil, causing many to sincrely say “Thanks, Obama.”

On Apr. 10-11, the seventh tri-annual Summit of The Americas took place in Panama City, Panama. This year’s theme addressed “Prosperity with Equity: The Challenge of Cooperation in the Americas.”

The Summits of the Americas have been going on since December 1994 when the first Summit took place in Miami. Heads of state from countries in the Western Hemisphere gather together every three years to discuss issues affecting their region and to unify their visions to make changes
for the better.

“Hopefully the summit provides a forum for all of the countries of the Americas to engage in respectful dialogue about critical hemispheric issues,” said Seattle U history professor Marc McLeod.

Other issues that were discussed stemmed from the central theme, including education, security and migration. Throughout the conferences that have been held over the years, the preservation and strengthening of democracy has played an important role among the different strategies evaluated.

“Every country has its issues, but I think what makes this Summit so great is that it gives these countries’ leaders the opportunity to address the most pressing problems and how to effectively change these situations,” said junior political science major Joseph Kuo.

A turning point in history defined this year’s Summit, as President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro met for the first time since negotiations between diplomats from both countries were made last December to normalize their relations.

At the Sixth Summit of the Americas, numerous officials declared that the next summit must include Cuba. Many countries involved in the Summit also threatened to not attend if Cuba was not invited, which led the U.S and Canada to relent. They ultimately agree to extend the invitation to the island nation in the Caribbean.

U.S. policy toward Cuba had initially put constraints on any progress, and their ties had been severed since January 1961. The current intentions of both presidents to renew their association are slowly rebuilding
this barrier.

Embassies are to be established in both Washington D.C. and Havana, and the expansion of American travel throughout Cuba, as well as the adjusted regulations on the people of Cuba, hopes to smooth out this process.

“[I think that] the Obama administration’s recent changes in policy toward Cuba and on immigration promises to set the stage for more meaningful bilateral and multilateral talks between the countries of the Western hemisphere,” McLeod said.

There still exists the possibility of future turmoil between the two beyond previous reasons, since the relationship between Cuban-ally Venezuela and the U.S. is tenuous.

Allegations against the U.S. claim that the nation is plotting against Venezuelan President Maduro and the Venezuelan government. Tensions increased at the Summit, and Maduro’s efforts to get the backing of other Latin American leaders have only made the situation more strained.

Obama has already stated that the country is a “threat to national security,” after issuing an executive order condemning seven Venezuelan officials for human rights violations.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez has even made it publicly known that he agrees with Maduro, stating that the sanctions against their sister nation are “unacceptable and unjustifiable.”

How the U.S. chooses to proceed with this issue after the Summit remains to be seen, and it is unclear for the time being whether other Latin American diplomats share the same view as Rodriguez.

“Positive change should be the focus at the Summit,” said sophomore political science major Ryan Wong. “But I imagine a room full of those political leaders is bound to create a lot of power struggles.”

Despite the numerous pros and cons that this Seventh Summit of the Americas brought for the Western Hemisphere, the expansion of open communication is sure to benefit all of the countries in their endeavors to end the challenges they face.

“I think [the Summit] is really cool because the way we approach issues at Seattle University is similar to these top-notch government officials at this gathering,” said freshman international affairs major Julie Reyes. “It all begins with a conversation.”

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