The Rendon Group Snapshot Report – 22 December 2014

by TRG Alerts Admin on December 22, 2014

The Rendon Group Snapshot Report

(22DEC14)

Each week The Rendon Group’s media analysts will focus on a different continent and a different issue affecting that continent. As always, we remain available to answer any questions you may have and to provide additional information upon request. For more information regarding The Rendon Group’s products and services, please contact us at Alert@Rendon.com or +1-202-745-4900.

 

A “new chapter” in U.S.-Cuba relations

A Cuban woman holds flags of both countries at a rally

Photo: Associated Press

 

This week’s snapshot focuses on United States President Obama’s historic announcement that the country will open talks with Cuba aimed at restoring full diplomatic relations and opening an embassy in Havana for the first time since the establishment of an embargo against the island over a half century ago.

 

News summary of events during the week of 17DEC-22DEC

  • 17DEC: Cuba frees imprisoned USAID contractor Alan Gross in return for the humanitarian release of members of the “Cuban Five” convicted of espionage. (ABC)
  • 17DEC: U.S. officials announced opening talks with Cuba aimed at restoring full diplomatic relations and opening an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half century. (CBS)
  • 17DEC: Cuba to free 53 political prisoners in exchange for three Cuban spies. (CNN)
  • 18DEC: US Senator Marco Rubio said that “this Congress is not going to lift the embargo”. (AFP)
  • 18DEC: The White House launched a Spanish-language webpage called “A new course for Cuba” devoted to explaining Pres. Obama’s opening towards the island. (AFP)
  • 19DEC: Cuban President Raul Castro addressed Cuban parliament, which unanimously approved normalization with the US. (AFP)
  • 19DEC: Pres. Obama stated that he doesn’t expect the reopening of diplomatic relations to bring overnight change to Cuba, a quick end to the economic embargo, or the likelihood that he will soon visit the nation. (AP)
  • 20DEC: Anti-Castro protesters in Miami waved flags and chanted “Obama, traitor” as they gathered in a show of opposition to the president’s plan to normalize relations with Cuba. (AP)
  • 21DEC: US President Barrack Obama vowed that he will do everything possible to close the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (XIN)
  • 21DEC: In a television interview, US President Obama said his plan to normalize relations with Cuba gives the US a chance to influence events at an important moment of change for the communist nation. (AP)
  • 21DEC: The historic shift in diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba could be an opportunity for the island to emerge as one of the biggest competitors in the Caribbean tourist market. (EFE)

 

Sample of Twitter handles regarding the announcement of a shift in U.S. policy towards Cuba and the potential easing of the longstanding embargo

 

Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the announcement of a shift in U.S. policy towards Cuba and the potential easing of the longstanding embargo

Julia E. Sweig, Nelson and David Rockefeller Senior Fellow & Director, Latin America Studies

“In the United States, the opportunity for President Obama to seize upon this issue and turn it into one of his major foreign policy legacies is significant. [It not only writes] a new chapter after fifty years of stasis in the U.S.-Cuban relationship, but more broadly allows the United States to restart a conversation and rebuild its standing in Latin America.”

–       After the Thaw: What’s Next in U.S.-Cuba Relations?, Council on Foreign Relations, 19DEC14

Carl Meacham, Latin America scholar, Center for Strategic and International Studies

“For a presidency that has at best modest achievements in the region … to take the United States to the pathway of normalization is a clear legacy for Barack Obama”

–       Obama Looks to Cuba to Test an Old Theory, CNN 18DEC14

Gregory Weeks, Professor and Chair, UNC-Charlotte and John Weeks, Director of the International Population Center, San Diego State University

“Demography is often said to be destiny. There are of course many factors at play in U.S.-Cuba relations, but for both countries demography created incentives for historic negotiations.”

–       The Political Demography of U.S.-Cuba Relations, WaPo 18DEC14

Richard Feinberg, Nonresident Senior Fellow, the Brookings Institution

“There are no direct operational contacts, but it is quite clear that Boko Haram is paying attention to the IS and the IS is paying attention to Boko Haram.”

–       Obama Demonstrates Visionary Leadership in Refashioning U.S. Relations with Cuba, Brookings, 17DEC14

Jason Marczak, Deputy Director, Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council

“The U.S. embargo has been the rallying cry for those in Latin America and across the world who scream of hypocrisy. Cuba is not viewed as a rogue by many of our allies.”

–       U.S.-Cuba Deal Welcomed in Latin America, WSJ 17DEC14

 

Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the announcement of a shift in U.S. policy towards Cuba and the potential easing of the longstanding embargo.

1. U.S. and Cuba to Start Talks on Normalizing Relations

Media: New York Times

Byline: PETER BAKER and RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD

Date: 17 December 2014

WASHINGTON — The United States will open talks with Cuba aimed at restoring full diplomatic relations and opening an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half century after the release of an American contractor held in prison for five years, American officials said Wednesday.

President Obama plans to make a televised statement from the White House at noon about the breakthrough, which opens the door to a major international initiative that could help shape his legacy heading into his final two years in office.

Mr. Gross, who has been serving a 15-year sentence in a Cuban prison for trying to bring Internet services to Cuba, was released and put on an American government airplane bound for the United States, officials said. His captivity has been a longstanding obstacle to Mr. Obama’s desire to transform relations with the island nation.

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2. ANALYSIS: For Obama, More Audacity and Fulfillment of Languishing Promises

Media: New York Times

Byline: MICHAEL D. SHEAR

Date: 17 December 2014

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s decision on Wednesday to radically shift United States policy toward Cuba is the latest and most striking example of a president unleashed from the hesitancy that characterized much of his first six years in office.

The announcement, made in a speech to the nation from the Cabinet Room of the White House, follows similar decisions by Mr. Obama in recent weeks to defy Republicans on immigration, climate change policy, the regulation of the Internet and negotiations with Iran.

Gone are the cautious political calculations that consigned contentious issues to secondary status and led some of the president’s strongest allies to accuse him of abandoning his principles. Mr. Obama is now pushing forward aggressively on his promised agenda and ignoring his most ardent critics.

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3. Obama: No quick end to embargo on Cuba

Media: Associated Press

Byline: N/A

Date: 19 December 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama praised the reopening of diplomatic relations with Cuba on Friday but said he doesn’t expect it to bring overnight change on the island, a quick end to the U.S. economic embargo or the likelihood that he will soon visit the communist nation.

“This is still a regime that oppresses its people,” Obama said at a year-end news conference two days after the historic announcement that he was moving to end the half century of Cold War acrimony with Havana. He said he hopes to visit Cuba at some point in his life but that he is not at the stage yet of going or hosting Cuban President Raul Castro in Washington.

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4. EDITORIAL: Obama’s Cuba thaw is a historic achievement. And it shows the need for more creative diplomacy

Media: The Guardian (UK)

Byline: Editorial Board

Date: 19 December 2014

It is no surprise that Barack Obama is attempting to make use of his final two years in the Oval office to try to polish his legacy, especially in foreign policy. Other US presidents have gone down this road. Bill Clinton tried desperately to clinch a deal on the Israeli-Palestinian issue during marathon talks in Camp David – to no avail. George W Bush tried to erase some of his earlier unilateralism by reaching out to Europe – but then left it to deal mostly on its own with the outbreak of war in Georgia. In the aftermath of midterm elections that handed Mr Obama’s Republican adversaries control of Congress, it was anticipated that the president would seek some solace on the international stage. What came as a surprise was that this should happen so spectacularly over Cuba.

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5. Brazil assisted U.S.-Cuba rapprochement, Rousseff aide says

Media: EFE (Spain)

Byline: N/A

Date: 19 December 2014

Sao Paulo, Dec 19 (EFE).- Brazil “actively participated” in the process leading to this week’s announcement by the United States and Cuba that they are restoring diplomatic ties after more than 50 years, President Dilma Rousseff’s foreign affairs adviser said Friday.

“We have been involved for some years in talks between Cuba and the United States,” Marco Aurelio Garcia told Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper.

Garcia said Cuban President Raul Castro asked him to take soundings on the possibility for dialogue with Washington.

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6. Obama’s new Cuba policy could transform Washington’s ties with Latin America

Media: Washington Post

Byline: Joshua Partlow

Date: 20 December 2014

MEXICO CITY — With shouts of “Viva Fidel,” Cuban President Raul Castro said Saturday that the easing of tensions with the United States did not mean he was abandoning the communist ideals that his brother brought to the island nation a half century ago.

In a speech to the Cuban parliament, on a day that he honored the return of three Cuban spies who were part of a prisoner swap with the United States, Castro reiterated the principles of the communist revolution. While thanking President Obama for his decision to reestablish diplomatic relations, Castro said that “we must not expect that in order for relations with the United States to improve, Cuba will abandon the ideas that it has struggled for.”

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7. Marco Rubio responds to Rand Paul Twitter fight over Cuba

Media: United Press International (UPI)

Byline: N/A

Date: 21 December 2014

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., pushed back against Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., after a Twitter barrage criticizing Rubio’s resistance to the president’s new Cuba policy. After President Obama announced his plan to normalize relations with Cuba, Rubio was one of the first Republicans to speak out against the plan, saying it would only feed the oppressive communist regime in the country.

Paul took to Twitter to criticize the opinion of his colleague and potential fellow 2016 presidential candidate, saying Rubio was taking the path of isolationism.

Hey @marcorubio if the embargo doesn’t hurt Cuba, why do you want to keep it?— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) December 19, 2014

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