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PHOTOGRAPHY BY: ATIBA CUDJOE

ecember 17, 2014, meant a fundamental change in international politics. Almost at the same time, both in Cuba and the United States, Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama addressed their fellow citizens to announce the releasing of prisoners and, for the surprise of the many, their intentions on normalising bilateral relations. A month later, on January 15, the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments announced regulations that ratified the political will of President Obama of changing the US hostile policy towards the neighbour island. From that moment on, US companies were authorised to export goods intended to empower the Cuban private sector, a general license that authorises companies to establish mechanisms to provide commercial telecommunications services in Cuba or linking third countries and Cuba was approved, financial institutions may open accounts at Cuban banks and US credit and debit cards can been used in Cuba, among other measures. Yes, the embargo is still in place but some fissures have started to appear in the intricate legal skein of the US policy towards Cuba as this first package of measures—together with further steps slowly taken by the US administration—shows. What have these actions altered for both countries? What has changed for the rest of the Caribbean? Moreover, what could be the changes to come? Addressing these questions is not an easy task. The process is still very recent and advances cautiously for many and diverse reasons. Without exhausting all the possible arguments and answers, we will explore some of the key transformations already registered and what impacts to expect for the rest of the Caribbean region —acknowledging that Cuba is, indeed, a Caribbean country. After December 2014 A balance of a year of negotiations accounts favourably on the progress side made on dismantling the US highly regulated policy towards Cuba and on settling the institutional channels to establish a permanent dialogue on issues of mutual interest where common positions prevail over discrepancies. Technical conversations in civil aviation, direct postal service, telecommunications, environmental protection and security have been followed by agreements on cellular telephone roaming and commercial aviation among others. The launch of the bilateral commission on September 2015 as a mechanism for permanent dialogue beyond the role that both Embassies plays, is a palpable sign of the commitment both governments have on pushing the normalisation process as far as possible before President Obama finishes his mandate. The removal of Cuba from the list of States sponsors of international terrorism in May 2015 was an important step on this normalisation effort. THE PELICAN/ISSUE 14 –

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UWI Pelican Issue 14  
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