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Neutral Ground

Raul Castro is offering to meet President-elect Obama. From AP-

Cuban President Raul Castro said in an interview released Wednesday that he would like to meet President-elect Barack Obama on "neutral ground" -- and he suggested the American naval base at Guantanamo Bay.

The Cuban leader's offer came in a rare interview in Havana with actor-director Sean Penn, who wrote about it for the Dec. 15 edition of The Nation magazine. The article was released on the magazine's Web site Wednesday.

Penn asked if Castro would meet with Obama in Washington. The Cuban president said he "would have to think about it," but that it would not be fair for either leader to go to the other's territory. Instead he suggested the base at Guantanamo.

"We must meet and begin to solve our problems, and at the end of the meeting, we could give the president a gift ... we could send him home with the American flag that waves over Guantanamo Bay," Castro said.

Raul Castro is largely seen as more pragmatic and conciliatory than his fiery older brother Fidel, and has offered to meet with U.S. officials several times since replacing his ailing sibling in mid-2006.

Guantanamo Naval Base is neutral? Obviously Raul Castro doesn't know too many US marines.

US policy towards Cuba is stuck in the 1960's. It is long past due for it to be revised. We had detente in the 70's, the opening of relations, and but can't talk to one regional nuisance? The only reason for it is politics, no one wants to antagonize the Cuban community in swing state Florida. Let them get over it, the opening of relations with Cuba would be likely to make marginal improvement in the lives of the people who live there.


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Comments (10)

Meet in Brooklyn. ... (Below threshold)

Meet in Brooklyn.

On Tessio's ground.

Where he'll feel safe.

But wait until after the baptism.

I beg to disagree, what WOU... (Below threshold)

I beg to disagree, what WOULD inprove the lot of ordinary Cubans is the institution of a non-repressive form of government,i.e. a republic would suffice, I think.

Not much use attempting to talk an entrenched dictatorship out of power.

irongrampa - you're right, ... (Below threshold)

irongrampa - you're right, you'll never talk a Castro out of power.

However, if you're a locked up socialist President-elect, this is exactly the kind of empty gesture that you can run on in '12.

So let me get this right. I... (Below threshold)

So let me get this right. If you open up trade and develop "normal" relations with a perennial dictatorship it's people will......what? I'm SURE all those goods and cash aid will go DIRECTLY to the folks ASAP making their lives better.....lolol.

Naahhhh, I'm thinking ol' Raul and his pal's standard of living will improve dramatically but the folks? Let 'um eat cake.

But all the "compassionate" folks who pushed for this enlightened new policy will feeeeelll soooooo good. Now, on to the next country we can help.......

Sure. Pay no attention to... (Below threshold)

Sure. Pay no attention to all the hugs and kisses being traded between Russia and Cuba again. It means nothing.

It's *still* a dictatorship... (Below threshold)

It's *still* a dictatorship where people are routinely imprisoned for speaking against the political leadership.

They are able to trade with any other country willing to send them goods and services now.

When I see people fleeing to Cuba maybe it will be time to open a relationship and ease the trade embargo, but until then the current relationship we have with them is fine.

Remember when we pretended ... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Remember when we pretended "Red" China didn't exist? And remember that commie Nixon opening up a dialogue with "Red" China?
Well, the average Chinese citizen is considerably better off today than he was in 1971. Is he any more free politically than before? Arguably, not so much. Is he better off financially? Inarguably, yes.
Pretending adversaries don't exist does neither side any good. Our relationship with China did much to end the Cold War. Who knows what benefit could accrue from an accomodation with Cuba? After all, even the younger Castro is older than dirt.

Gmac, you're right: all tra... (Below threshold)

Gmac, you're right: all trade with China should cease until Americans start emigrating there.

Bruce Henry is correct. Fidel Castro won the PR war against the United States. Time to act like grown-ups and engage their new government in diplomacy. What's the worst that could happen?

It's been over 30 years sin... (Below threshold)

It's been over 30 years since Nixon started talks with China. What has happened since?

1. China is still ruled by a totalitarian, repressive government.

2. We owe China tons of money.

3. We are dependent upon China for lots and lots of consumer goods.

4. The production of these goods involves not insignificant human rights issues.

5. We can't get hard-line with China because economically we can't afford to offend them.

And we're thinking that China has worked so well for us we'll do the same with Cuba. Smart.

Look, any behavioral psychologist (or nanny) will tell you that you don't reward unacceptable behavior. (At least one successful TV show is built around emergency help for families where the parents had been rewarding unacceptable behavior.)

Is anybody remembering what brought the Soviet Union down? Friendship? Concession? No! It was Reagan's strong stand (remember "Mr. Gorbachov, tear down this wall!"?) and his SDI (mocked by the liberals but feared by the Soviets). Reagan took away their hope at a time when they were weak. Reagan gave hope to the Warsaw bloc citizens who rose up and/or fled. The hemorrhage of citizens from East Berlin through Hungary was the final straw. (Notice that this account contains no mention of US support of the USSR economy or other "nice guy" efforts. There were none.)

Remember Castro? The guy who fell all over himself getting the Soviets to support his government and to help him to consolidate his power through repression of the people? The guy who almost had Soviet missiles in his land, to be aimed at the US?

I have relatives both in Cuba and in Miami; neither want the Castro regime (or dictatorship or Communism) to continue, let alone be aided by the US. I absolutely agree, even though my ties to Cuba are too distant for me to be emotionally involved.

So can we drop this idiocy before it gets Castro's hopes up any? ("When your enemy is defeating himself, do not get in his way.")

"...the opening of relation... (Below threshold)

"...the opening of relations with Cuba would be likely to make marginal improvement in the lives of the people who live there."

Yeah, Castro can initiate another "boat lift".






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