Cuba and the United States of America are making the opening moves of diplomacy between themselves. At the same time Britain, the United States’ ally and foot soldier, has introduced a surreptitious blockade of its own.
Cubans applying for visas to visit Britain now have to apply on-line and pay in sterling from their own bank account. Most Cubans do not have access to foreign currency, or online bank accounts. So effectively a further restriction is applied to Cubans wishing to visit Britain. This tactic recently disrupted a planned Cuban trade union delegation.
Despite some relaxation on imports, the stranglehold of the US blockade has in fact tightened since the freeing of the Cuban Five and the opening of diplomatic talks in December 2014. The financial stranglehold, the world-wide banking embargo and draconian fines continue as the US still tries to bring Cuba to its knees.
Sugar coated words from Obama should fool no one; the reality is the continuing blockade. Obama’s visit to Cuba in mid-March, the first US President to visit since 1928, could be an opportunity by the USA to change course. However this is unlikely given the US backed destabilisation in Venezuela, US supported shifts to the right in Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina and the fragile ceasefire in Columbia.