The spectre of Communism may have long ceased to exist in American psyche, but U.S. conservatives have been trying to resurrect that fear this election season citing Democrat Bernie Sanders;s campaign for 'democratic socialism'.
President Barack Obama's Cuba visit fits well into this narrative, promoted mainly by Senator Ted Cruz, who is considered the alternative to Donald Trump, front runner in the Republican presidential race. The only outcome of this visit, according to Mr. Cruz, is to "legitimise the corrupt and oppressive Castro regime".
"..President Barack Obama, a retinue of celebrities in tow, is expected...to hang out with [Cuban President] Raul Castro and his henchme...," Mr. Cruz said in an op-ed article on Sunday.
This could be an extreme view, as Mr. Cruz is often given to. Opinion polls have consistently shown majority of people supporting ties with Cuba since December 2014 when Mr. Obama announced a new opening with the U.S.'s Caribbean neighbour. A wide range of expert opinion also supports the Obama initiative. A poll by CBS and New York Times on Monday found six out of 10 Americans to be in support of Mr. Obama's initiative. Mr. Trump also supports rebooting the U.S.'s relations with Cuba, though he thinks Mr. Obama has not made a "good deal".
Mr. Trump took offence at the fact that Mr. Castro himself did not receive the President at the airport. "Wow, President Obama just landed in Cuba, a big deal, and Raul Castro wasn't even there to greet him. He greeted Pope and others. No respect," Mr. Trump tweeted. The White House said it took no offence and Mr. Castro was not expected to receive the President.
Though Republican Congressional leaders are not in a mood to allow Mr. Obama any elbowroom on any policy issue, several lawmakers of the party are in support of the Cuba initiative and at least five of them are part of the delegation accompanying Mr. Obama. Senators Jeff Flake and Mark Helle and Representatives Mark Sanford, Tom Emmer and Reid Ribble are travelling with Mr. Obama. "It's about Americans' freedom and embracing engagement rather than isolation as a way of changing other governments," Mr. Sanford said.
Richard Feinberg and Ted Piccone, experts on Cuba at Brookings in Washington DC, wrote in a comment article: "...the odds of wringing short-term concessions from Cuba’s proud and nationalist leaders are stacked against Obama", but "this trip should be judged by its ability to expand constituencies in both countries who want a more open and prosperous Cuba".
Source The Hindu