Havana, Cuba

The United States of America and Cuba | Forging Meaningful Relationships for a More Productive Future

by Zachary Thomas


Today, August 14 2015 marks a key point in history: today, Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Havana, Cuba to inaugurate the first U.S. embassy in Cuba in 54 years. This formally marks the establishment of a new found relationship between the United States of America and Cuba. Throughout the late twentieth century until today, the United States enforced an embargo on Cuba and ceased maintaining relations with the Cuban Government under the Castro regime, aside from Guantanamo Bay. Because of this embargo, the United States had difficulties maintaining relationships with the Latin American region. At the Summit of the Americas, many countries refused to join the summit unless Cuba was recognized by the United States, barring many opportunities for discussion and collective action.

 Recently, it has been revealed that the Cuban government has reached out to the United States Government for years after the initial embargo, trying to forge a new bond with each successive Presidency. All of them failed, some through unwillingness to change and some through unforeseen events such as assassination attempts. All of these proved fruitless attempts at trying to salvage broken ties. However, our current President Barack Obama has been able to forge a new, solid relationship.  And this event is extremely appropriate to context of the Millennium Campus Conference because we at the Millennium Campus Network feel that relationships are the foundation for successful global development and social justice initiatives. 

Relationships are the keystone of global development. If improperly set, they can be the downfall of any progress. The relationship between the United States of America and Cuba over the last 50 years only served to hurt progress. The embargo set upon Cuba never accomplished its goal (flush out the Communist Party) and it severely damaged the United States' relationships with the rest of the Latin America. Countries refused to meet at the Summit with the United States as long as the U.S. continued to maintain the embargo on Cuba. However, if they are forged well, they have the power to reconstruct the current paradigm. Now the United States and Cuba will be able to work in conjunction with the other nations in the Summit of the Americas. Without this new found relationship between Cuba and the United States of America, nothing innovative or revolutionary would have happened. Instead, after over 50 years, the United States and Cuba have reestablished ties.

We at the Millennium Campus Network feel that relationships drive change in the world. With relationships, there are more resources, more perspectives and more opportunities. All of those involved in global development are trying to have a positive impact on the world and through collaboration our efforts can be deliberate, more specialized and more effective. Fighting each other to vie for credit does more harm than good, especially when we look at the effects this mind set has on those we are trying to assist. With this in mind, we encourage all youth leaders to continue to forge meaningful relationships with one another so that youth can have the largest possible collective impact. As is evidenced by this historic moment, relationships are the key to moving forward and to promoting global development, global health, environmental conservation, and social justice.