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Latin American Countries Pressure Affected US Decision on Cuba Policy

© REUTERS / Enrique De La OsaA car with a Cuban flag is parked near Cuban Capitol in Havana December 18, 2014. Cuban President Raul Castro hailed a landmark exchange of prisoners with the United States on Wednesday and praised U.S. President Barack Obama as the two countries agreed to normalize relations after more than five decades of hostility
A car with a Cuban flag is parked near Cuban Capitol in Havana December 18, 2014. Cuban President Raul Castro hailed a landmark exchange of prisoners with the United States on Wednesday and praised U.S. President Barack Obama as the two countries agreed to normalize relations after more than five decades of hostility - Sputnik International
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Experts believe that the situation in Latin America precipitated the changes in US-Cuba relations.

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MOSCOW, December 20 (Sputnik) – Pressure by Latin American countries to end Cuba isolation and involve the country into world forums affected the US decision to change its policy toward the island nation, experts told Sputnik Novosti.

Earlier this week, the US and Cuba announced the restoration of diplomatic relations after the 53 years of blockade and embargo imposed by Washington. The US Congress is also set to vote for lifting an economic embargo.

"In some specified sense, the US has been lagging and isolated," Anna Ayuso, PhD in International Law and Senior Fellow for Fundación Cidob, told in an interview with Sputnik Novosti.

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The seventh Summit of Americas, set to be held on April in Panama, was the final straw. "Many of Latin American countries, especially the ALBA countries, threatened to ignore the summit." "It was a political failure, hard to be justified," Ayuso asserts.

"Columbia and Brazil have also played an important role," Susanne Gratius, Professor of Political Science and World Politics for the Autonomous University of Madrid and Fellow for FRIDE, told Sputnik Novosti in an interview.

Gratius thinks the new situation also means that "Cuba will weaken its relations with Venezuela", because Havana "has chosen another way of international reintegration."

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Both experts believe that the situation on the continent precipitated the changes in US-Cuba relations. However, as the embargo remains, Cuba will maintain the same political and economic ties as before.

"Russia still plays an important role" as the current situation was affected by numerous factors, according to Ayuso.

According to the Cidob analyst, "the US takes seriously Russia’s presence in Latin America."

Havana, Revolution Square, Cuban Ministry of Internal Affairs. - Sputnik International
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"Just like Russia complains about European interference in its sphere of influence, the US can consider the Russian policy toward Latin America as a hurdle."

The analysts presume that the sanction policy has been a total failure which even the US President admits.

"I do not know what was more harmful – sanctions or Cuba’s own economic policy. I guess they both have contributed to the situation," Gratius said.
Ayuso and Gratius also agree the new situation will benefit Cuba and revive the country’s economy.

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