New Scenarios for US-Cuba Relations

March 12, 2004 - 5:00 pm

Daniel Erikson, Inter-American Dialogue

US-Cuba relations have been frozen for more than 40 years, yet today there are a number of forces in play that will help to define the relationship in the coming period. Under Fidel Castro, the Cuban government has taken measures to strengthen the state, enshrine the socialist system as constitutionally irreversible, regenerate the communist party, and suppress dissent. At the same time, Cuba’s slow economic recovery has cost the government valuable political support and allowed for opposition groups to gain a stronger foothold on the island. In Washington, a clear policy divide has emerged between supporters of the embargo in the White House and some Republican circles, and a growing movement for lifting the travel ban in the U.S. Congress. Meanwhile, in Miami, the Cuban-American political leadership advocates tougher measures against Castro while their constituents travel frequently to the island, send money to their relatives, and are reconsidering the current approach. Are US-Cuba relations on the verge of accelerated change?

Daniel P. Erikson is director of Caribbean programs at the Inter-American Dialogue, a leading policy forum on Western Hemisphere affairs based in Washington, D.C. His research interests encompass U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, and his current work is focused on U.S.-Cuba relations, the Cuban economy, and hemispheric security issues. He also manages a project on the politics of development aid to Haiti, and closely monitors political and economic developments throughout the Americas.

Mr. Erikson is a frequent source of information on Latin America and the Caribbean for government officials and policy organizations, and he has appeared on Bloomberg, CNN, CNN en Español, National Public Radio, Telemundo, and Voice of America Television. He authors the annual Cuba chapter in Encyclopedia Britannica’s Book of the Year, and his articles have appeared in the Brown Journal of World Affairs, The National Interest, and the Washington Post, among other publications.

Mr. Erikson holds a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a B.A. in International Relations from Brown University. He is a former recipient of the Fulbright Fellowship to Mexico.