18 Dec

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


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Obama and Raúl Castro thank pope for breakthrough in US-Cuba relations

Surprise breakthrough came after 45-minute phone call between President Obama and Raúl Castro finalised the release of US prisoner Alan Gross

Barack Obama and Raúl Castro have thanked Pope Francis for helping broker a historic deal to begin normalising relations between the United States and Cuba, after 18 months of secret talks over prisoner releases brought a sudden end to decades of cold war hostility.

The two presidents spoke simultaneously on Wednesday to confirm the surprise reversal of a long-running US policy of isolating Cuba, detailing a series of White House steps that will relax travel, commercial and diplomatic restrictions in exchange for the release of Americans and dissidents held in Havana.

Though a formal end to the US trade embargo requires legislation in Congress, both Obama and Castro said they believed such executive action was sufficient to significantly open up relations between the two countries and allow travellers and trade to flow relatively freely.

“In the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years, we will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalise relations between our two countries,” said Obama in an address from the White House cabinet room. “Through these changes, we intend to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people, and begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas.”………………



Raul Castro: ‘President Obama deserves respect and recognition’ – video

Cuban president Raul Castro urges the US to end the economic embargo, but praises President Obama for the agreement to re-establish diplomatic relations. Castro spoke in Havana as Obama made his announcement on a policy shift following the release of American aid worker Alan Gross, who had been imprisoned in Cuba for five years. In his speech, Castro also recognized the support of the Vatican and Canada



Reaction to the US-Cuban diplomatic thaw – video

The news that the United States and Cuba will restore diplomatic relations was met with celebration on the streets of Havana on Wednesday. Cuban-Americans and exiles in Miami, however, have mixed feelings about the moves to normalize US-Cuba ties.



A clipping of a Cuban newspaper reads: ‘Obama … give me Five’. Photograph: Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo/Getty Images

Cubans in Havana on a welcome surprise: ‘This is going to help us – how could it not?’

On the streets of the Cuban capital, TVs and radios were turned up as clips of Castro’s speech were played and replayed – with the hope of a new life in the new year

The reading room of Cuba’s National Archive is normally a place of monastic calm, where academics and researchers leaf through aged volumes among card files and dusty stacks.

On Wednesday, however, the customary silence was punctuated with cheers and applause as the readers gathered around a small TV to watch president Raúl Castro announce the news that many had been waiting to hear all their lives: the planned restoration of diplomatic relations with the country’s neighbour and long-time ideological foe.

One woman looked on the verge of tears; others shook their heads in wonder. “It’s a great surprise for the new year,” said archivist Niurbus Ferrer.

Castro’s 10-minute speech, broadcast on all channels, came with little fanfare. There was no indication in the morning news that today would be any different…………………….


Jews and Arabs march in solidarity against police brutality

Protesters carried a sign that declaring ‘Jews and Arabs say: Black Lives Matter’ and torches to form a giant menorah. Photograph: Jews for Racial and Economic Justice

Jews and Muslims stage New York protest for victims of police brutality

Religious groups march in solidarity against recent deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and others at the hands of law enforcement

This year, when the first night of Hanukah came to Brooklyn, Jewish, Arab, and Muslim demonstrators commemorated the holiday with an evening of protest against police brutality.

Three New York activist groups — Jews For Racial and Economic Justice, the Arab American Association of New York, and Bend the Arc — were taking part in #ChanukahAction, a planned night of national protest by the Jewish community against police violence and the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and others at the hands of law enforcement. Similar protests were held by Jewish groups in cities across the country, including Albany, Boston, and San Francisco.………………….



Putin press conference: ‘economy will rebound within two years’

Follow the latest developments as the Russian president gives his annual press conference in Moscow

Read Shaun Walker’s preview of Putin’s speech

Al Jazerra


Latin America celebrates new US-Cuba era

Chile’s minister of foreign relations calls the Obama and Castro speeches the beginning of the end of the Cold War

December 17, 20147:00PM ET

by Kate Kilpatrick

Latin America’s top officials appeared unanimous in their celebration Wednesday of a new chapter in United States-Cuba relations, which will witness the renewal of diplomatic ties and the easing of sanctions that have helped raze the Cuban economy.Latin America has long lobbied the U.S. to lift its 55-year embargo against Cuba.Venezuela, Cuba’s strongest ally in the region, called the news a “moral” and “historic” victory. President Nicolás Maduro, whose own country is at risk of U.S. sanctions due to political repression, said the release of the three Cuban detainees marks “a victory for Fidel and the Cuban people.”Somewhat surprisingly, he also praised his U.S. counterpart……………………………


in from

The US – not Cuba – comes in from the cold

Obama shifted US policy on Havana towards that of the rest of world, saying that decades-long embargo had failed

December 17, 2014 6:15PM ET

by Michael Pizzi @michaelwpizzi

With the release of USAID contractor Alan Gross and the announcement of normalized U.S.-Cuba relations on Wednesday, one of the last remaining Cold War-era rivalries has finally begun to thaw.

But as President Barack Obama tacitly acknowledged in comments at the White House, it is the United States — not Cuba — that has come in from the cold. After more than 50 years of the U.S. embargo on Cuba, a policy introduced to pressure the Fidel Castro regime on freedoms and democratic reform, Washington has finally joined Europe, the Vatican and the rest of the Western Hemisphere in determining that a hardline approach vis-à-vis Cuba was simply not working.

“At times, longstanding U.S. policy towards Cuba has isolated the United States from regional and international partners, constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere, and impaired the use of the full range of tools available to the United States to promote positive change in Cuba,” Obama said. “Though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect — today, as in 1961, Cuba is governed by the Castros and the Communist Party.”…………………………




One Response to “News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective”

  1. 1
    theoleary Says:

    Way to go Obama! Our insane policy toward Cuba will end.

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