Cuba-U.S. Diplomacy: Mission Impossible?

Por: Orlando Márquez

Tomado de

Over the past Christmas the temples were crowded in Havana and other dioceses, and more families placed Christmas decorations. But the social environment was saturated by situations that tarnished these festivities, officially restored since 1998 in the civil calendar. The date for a military exercise so close to Christmas, the long-transmitted meeting of the National Assembly of People’s Power until good night’s day and, above all, the exchange of graphic messages between Cuba and the United States in the Habanero Malecon, covered the Christmas celebrations as a cloud of polluting smoke.
Nearly thirty years ago, the governments of Washington and Havana decided to open up what is known as Sections of Interest that would allow diplomatic and consular representatives to exist. It was not an obligation then to date the full restoration of diplomatic relations, for the existence of a diplomatic envoy does not imply recognition of a State. But after almost three decades it would have been normal to reach higher levels in this regard, as such “interest sections” are established on a transitional nature, prior to the creation of embassies. It is not very logical to assume that the deployment of such diplomatic resources was intended only to provide consular facilities, or to allow specific cases of security contact.
Indeed, also for a profane person in this area, it is clear that the abundant presence of diplomatic personnel similar to that of a representation indicating full diplomatic relations does not correspond to the negative moods that prevail.
An approach to certain events over the past century, without requiring high-rise lenses, indicates that both Cuban and American diplomacy are able to act very correctly and professionally, effectively, to use an appropriate term. Even more than once they have shared a certain degree of responsibility in certain negotiations, development of international projects or conflict resolution, such as the work of discussion and development of international standards or letters of law or the negotiations that ended the international dimension of the war in Angola.
Some major international negotiation is unlikely to be consulted in the U.S. State Department, but perhaps less well-known is the vast network that Cuban diplomacy – cultivated since the early decades of the twentieth century – has been able to weave in the broad geography of the South. Emerging nations such as South Africa or Brazil may now have greater specific weight than Cuba, but in diplomatic matters Cuban influence weighs on itself. However, public diplomatic gestures between Cuba and the United States do not correspond to that real capacity.
Since several Italian city-states replaced transitional envoys with permanent representatives in the 15th century, laying the foundations for modern professional diplomatic service, through the creation of chancelleries and the development of codes of procedure and protocols, to the signing of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in 1961, little has changed in the essence of diplomatic functions. Routine occupations (attention to citizens residing in the host State, attendance at social ceremonies and meetings), information or intelligence, and negotiation, remain as the three main functions of diplomats, responsible for both protecting the interests of their States and promoting relations with the State that receives them. But the third, the negotiating capacity, is like the consecration of the diplomat.
There are certainly differences between the interests of one country and another, even between allies. During the last year we witnessed a multiple political outing between Cuba and the countries of the European Union, manifested in diplomatic crises. Through negotiations and exchanges of messages (public and private), contacts were restarted and relations thawed restored the possibilities of diplomatic missions. Opposing political views causing the crisis (what became known as the “cocktail war” and the freezing of European embassies, after the 2003 summary trials, were very likely to be the last expression of a diverse conception of political dissent or opposition by the Cuban government and the European Union – nor will dissidents disappear. , but the parties agree to negotiate and maintain dialogue from those bases.
Dialogue and negotiation are an inseparable part of diplomacy. In addition to defending and promoting national interests, diplomacy entails the invaluable possibility of bringing relations between States closer and strengthening, and even helping to change certain positions for the sake of concertation. It is always much more that can be achieved with dialogue than with reluctance to it. After all, the current interdependence imposes at one time or another the need for the meeting and the negotiated settlement, unless there is a deliberate purpose of refusing to re-establish a relationship, or of profiting from a acute crisis. Unilaterally Cuba froze and thawed relations with the countries of the European Union. Logic suggests that thawing will facilitate dialogue and negotiation without ignoring the reasons for the disentroy.
But unlike Europe, the paradox of exchanges of diplomatic representations between Cuba and the United States without the will to overcome the un reunion denotes diplomatic subordination to Cold War politics. Over the course of these nearly three decades, surveillance and suspicion, restrictions on movements, inconvenience to headquarters, expulsion of diplomats and frequent allegations of activities contrary to the mission, reflect the policy of confrontation and become, in practice, the abandonment of a large part of the postulates that both governments recognize in the Vienna Convention and which , they were supposed to share when they mutually accepted diplomatic exchange.
The other problem is precisely because of the interpretation given to the sovereignty of states that represents modern diplomacy. Such sovereignty is not the exclusive heritage of the party that governs or governs, rests throughout the people, with all its variety of interests and enriching differences. The interests of a large group of U.S. traders, for example, contradict their country’s policy for Cuba. While on the island, the social and political situation of many Cubans, or restrictions on the exercise of certain rights, are subordinate to the oscillating but always critical relations between Cuba and the United States. It is to be assumed, and hopeless, that at some point such inconsistencies will disappear with the desire to achieve high internal and external political goals, and with the corresponding deployment of diplomatic possibilities.
But as long as such goals are not achieved, the possibilities offered by the exercise of diplomacy to restore the bridges of contact should not be despised. If foreign policies are to be an open process that can be publicly explained, diplomacy – even though it must also meet political goals – does not abandon effective private negotiations, in the words of Sir Harold Nicholson in Diplomacy, a well-known work among those responsible for making the diplomatic mission possible. And on the qualities that the effective diplomat must have, Nicholson himself suggests these: truthfulness, for it gives reputation and credibility; precision, which denotes intellectual and moral certainty; good character, which implies moderation and subtlety; patience and calmness, which helps to be precise, reasonable and dispassionate; modesty, so as not to boast of successes; loyalty, to their own and, correspondingly, to the nation it hosts. Clearly, the diplomat is not seeking applause from the public.
Bouncing between political, economic or cultural interests, the exercise of diplomacy can be a noble means that brings peoples closer together, or an instrument of distortion, of insightful or un reunion, capable of putting at risk even the true national interests and the safety of people. A difficult exercise without a doubt. Perhaps that is why C. W. Freeman Jr., a veteran with thirty years of diplomatic service in the United States, in his work Dictionary of the Diplomat – where he collects hundreds of comments on the subject, attributed to several characters who over the centuries have been involved – has included this reasoning of his: “Diplomacy is too important a matter to leave to clumsy fans… too portentous to be entrusted to politicians, but too political to be left to the generals.” A matter for people who believe in dialogue and understanding among nations seems to say.
In a globalized and interdependent world, diplomacy needs to “regain its nobility”, as John Paul II expressed to a group of diplomats at the Holy See on 15 May 2003. Because “attention to individuals and peoples, as well as interest in dialogue, fraternity and solidarity are the basis of diplomatic activity and international institutions responsible for promoting first and foremosth peace, which is one of the most valuable goods for people, for populations and even for States, whose lasting development can only be sustained in security and harmony”.
It would be somewhat risky to say that the next four years will continue to witness the U.S.-Cuba out of the way. But if that were the case, the diplomatic representations that both countries have been exchanging for nearly three decades would exist only to reaffirm that governments, in maintaining them, have set out to maintain a kind of mission that is impossible, if not fully diplomatic.

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