The Great Debate
President Barack Obama has taken initial steps toward overhauling the broken U.S. immigration system and failed Cuba policy. It is also time to bring Washington’s Cuban immigration policy in line with other foreign-born people. Cubans enjoy unique immigration privileges that are no longer justifiable.
President Barack Obama has inverted U.S. policy on Cuba. His Wednesday speech adopted the proposals of those who have spent a half-century arguing for a rethinking of Cuba policy. The president recognized Washington’s failure to achieve its goal of bringing political and economic openness to Cuba.
Presidents frequently conduct sensitive diplomatic dialogues in secret, because the furor of public attention makes it politically impossible to reach the compromises necessary for agreement. These secret talks are often crucial for diplomatic advances — as we learned Wednesday with the stunning revelations about the impending talks between Washington and Havana that have been underway secretly for the past few months. President Barack Obama’s far-reading initiatives are reminiscent of the secret talks Henry Kissinger held with Beijing to lay the groundwork for President Richard M. Nixon’s historic diplomatic opening to China.
Last week, an Associated Press article, “US Secretly Created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to Stir Unrest,” sparked an uproar. The U.S. Agency for International Development had funded a Cuban version of Twitter called ZunZuneo , the AP reported, that attracted more than 40,000 users before ending in 2012, according to the story.
The funeral of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez earlier this month was a massive celebration of a vitriolic foe of the United States. This tribute should make Washington take a fresh look not only at its relations with Venezuela but also with all of Latin America.
— Boston University Professor Susan Eckstein is author of “The Immigrant Divide: How Cuban Americans Changed the U.S. and Their Homeland” and “Cuba under Castro,” and past president of the Latin American Studies Association. The views expressed are her own. —