Tehran’s interest in Havana

Hamid Bayati of the Tehran Times asked me some questions about Cuba. I answered:

Q. After more than 5 decade US end his invade policy toward Cuba, how do you evaluate this event?

A. I think this is a good development. It ends a policy that wasn’t working and raises the odds of a peaceful democratic transition in Cuba, which is very much in the interest of both Cubans and Americans.

Q. US president said the policy to isolate Cuba do not have any specific results but why [doe]s Washington has same policy toward Countries such as Russia, Iran or N. Korea?

A. The Cuba embargo is a unilateral policy. Other countries don’t participate or support it. The sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea are widely supported and therefore have a much stronger effect.

Q. Why [do] Republicans in US criticize Obama decision to normalize relation with Cuba?

A. Some Republicans (and some Democrats) see the decision as rewarding the autocratic Castro regime. It certainly will provide the regime with some marginal benefits, but it will also encourage the private sector and relieve a good deal of individual suffering.

Q. Some experts say Obama wants to end his presidency with good events and changing diplomacy toward Cuba happened in this frame, what is your idea on this issue?

A. The President had loosened restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba a great deal already. Normalization of diplomatic relations was a natural next step. It is also a politically savvy one, as younger Cuban Americans strongly support it.

Q. Some experts say the US has been to blame for Cuba’s economic problems, which include crumbling infrastructure, low levels of foreign investment and …. Does this event (new relation between US and Cuba) help Cuba improve economy?

A. It may mean some marginal improvements in the economy, but Cuba’s economic problems are mostly due to its own mismanagement, lack of respect for property rights, restrictions on foreign investment and lack of respect for the rights of Cubans. Until those things change, there won’t be a big change in the economy.

Q. Raúl Castro, Cuba President, said this new relation does not change Cuba old policy especially on socialism, so is it possible we see change in Havana policies in coming years?

A. Everything the Castros do is done in the name of socialism. That is a bit of a joke. Raúl has allowed the growth of a vibrant private sector. That is likely to prevail over the state sector sooner rather than later, but Cubans overwhelmingly want to preserve some aspects of socialism: their free health care and education, for example. That is their right, though it is unclear whether the state will have the resources required.

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