"I am a Marxist Leninist and I will be one until the last day of my life." — Fidel Castro, January, 1967.
"[As] Comrade Fidel [Castro] stated, we have] the willingness to discuss and solve our differences without renouncing any of our principles." — Raúl Castro, December, 2014.
The 114th Congress finds Republicans in command of the House and Senate for the first time in eight years. When it convenes, its agenda will inevitably include how to deal with Cuba and Iran — two sides of the same coin of a foreign policy of giving up too much too soon in the Obama administration's negotiations. A bipartisan consensus is emerging critical of trying to moderate rogue regimes, and that it is necessary to take a tougher negotiating approach with such regimes.
Although the wording is different, the remarks above suggest Raúl is a Marxist Leninist like his brother, and intends to keep Cuba as a communist state. President Barack Obama, however, is seemingly betting that normalization of relations will lead it to become a constitutional democracy with improvements in the prison and detention centers, arbitrary arrests and detentions, police and security apparatus, arrest procedures and treatment of detainees, and fair public trials, which were all listed as being denied by Havana in the State Department's Human Rights Report for Cuba.
Instead of holding out for some of these requirements in secret talks, Obama has gambled that opening up Cuba to talks with the United States would change the nature of the regime: Either the Castro brothers will have an epiphany or moderates will emerge to prevail over the current leaders. In the context of economic woes facing Havana, Washington could have used that leverage to squeeze Havana on human rights for the Cuban people as a condition for normalization, as our Shadow colleague Will Inboden has written.
In a July 2014 visit to Cuba, Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to write off $32 billion in Cuban debt to Russia. However, it was prior to the precipitous plunge in the ruble, and Moscow has other problems on its plate: The price of crude oil fell from about $100 during Putin's visit tobelow $50 per barrel on Jan. 6.
(To continue reading go to Foreign Policy)