A University of Illinois professor says there are benefits to the United States to having improved relations with Cuba. Adriana Crocker, an expert on Latin American politics at the University of Illinois at Springfield, says the U.S. will get some economic benefit, but will get a big political benefit in terms of how the U.S. is viewed throughout Latin America.
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“This is creating a different perspective or a way of looking at the U.S. (on) the part of many Latin Americans, who see the United States now as being respectful of the hemispheric self-determination and sovereignty and rights to have their own government,” she said.
President Obama announced on Wednesday that diplomatic relations with Cuba will be restored and travel restrictions will be eased. Crocker notes the embargo that has been in effect for 54 years “has taken both countries nowhere,” but the embargo itself will remain unless Congress votes to lift it.
Crocker credits Canada – where Americans and Cubans can meet – and Pope Francis with making this happen. The pope wrote personal letters this fall both to President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro. The Vatican also received delegations from both countries in October and helped facilitate a dialogue.