INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC BODY OF THE VENETIAN REPUBLIC
Diplomatic relationships have recently intensified between USA and Cuba. The improvement in relations has apparently been facilitated by pressures from the Jewish and Catholic worlds. The Vatican has had a great influence on Cuban Government since Pope John Paul II’s visit to Cuba and the new rapport established between the Pope and Fidel Castro. These relationships between the Holy See and the Cuban Government have been recently consolidated, in particular, by the Archbishop of Havana Ortega.
The influential Jewish community in Cuba, on its side, had been complaining about the difficulty of communication with other communities due to strong restrictions on the use of the Internet on the island. The American-Jewish community would make pressure on Obama to obtain a liberalization of the use of computer networks, even at the cost of giving up embargo.
Pope Francesco’s mediation seems to have been instrumental in the negotiations that have led, among other things, to the release of some political prisoners both from American side and Cuban side. Finally, we saw the end of an embargo that had been lasting for more than 50 years.
Raul Castro’s short term government has promised internet access to be broadened up for Cuban residents and relations and tourist exchanges with the United States to increase. Soon the US Embassy should reopen in Havana, although a building called the American Affairs Office (serving a similar role) has been present for years.
This improvement in relations between the two countries has not been welcome happily by the Cuban-American community, which is the hardest antagonist of the Cuban Government, and has been interpreted as a giving in. Even part of the Republican Party has shown diffidence and has promised to counteract these agreements at the Congress, where Republicans now have an overwhelming majority.
It is hard to predict how things will evolve.
Certainly opening to the Internet will result in new generations more willing to westernize themselves, conforming to tastes and trends of their American peers. The ease of communication with friends and relatives in Florida will also establish the conditions for a westernization of the island. This lays down conditions for profound social and political changes in the medium term. It is also true that a drastic and immediate exit from socialism would lead to severe unrest and great economic difficulties for a large portion of the population. It appears the intention is of a softening of the repression of the various forms of dissent in order to arrive gradually at a fuller democracy.
Tourism in Cuba continues to be the main revenue entry, while facing issues like the reduction of supports (money and oil) from Venezuela. The possibility of returning to export Cuban cigars and rum to the United States, could help to readdress a difficult situation.
This is a time where you can buy and make good investments in Cuba, but with the opening of relationships with the United States it is also possible that, in future, International Courts will give back properties to the legitimate owners that possessed them before Cuban revolution or to their descendants. This uncertainty in predicting the destiny of properties makes this type of investment rather risky in perspective.
Dr Giovanni Bertoldi
Venetian Diplomatic Consultant for the Republic of Cuba