There is a Cuban embassy in Washington. There is a U.S. embassy in Havana. Flags are flying. Airlines see tourism dollar signs. Those who restore vintage cars are excited about importing working vehicles from the island.
Cuban missile crisis? Bay of Pigs? Mariel boatlift? Decades of draconian economic sanctions?
Hey, let bygones be bygones. Raul Castro and Barack Obama want to be pals.
Obama acknowledged that as the countries move closer there may be “very serious differences” over issues like free speech. (He said that with a straight face. We all know he and Castro 100% agree that no criticism should go unpunished.)
The trade embargo thing is stickier, because all American property was seized after the Cuban revolution, everything from sugar factories to oil refineries. Thousands of claims were filed, totaling about $1.8 billion.
Leon Neyfakh of The Boston Globe examined the substantial legal hurdles to improving relations more than a year ago, interviewing many learned people. The money quote is from Julia Sweig of the Council on Foreign Relations:
“There is a scenario that I see, which is bit by bit the fundamentals of the embargo are chiseled away by executive order, by the economic and family ties linking Cuba and the United States, and by non-enforcement.”
In other words, the claimants can join the General Motors bondholders in getting screwed, probably between the 2016 election and Jan. 20, 2017.
On one thing, the two new BFFs agree: Rule of law? We don’t need no stinkin’ rule of law.