HAVANA._ Since Cuban president Raúl Castro and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama announced their decision to reestablish diplomatic relations last December 17, there has been an overflow of enthusiasm that encompassed almost the whole world.
After more than half a century of hostile policies towards the Caribbean island, including an economic, commercial and financial blockade that is still in force, both neighbors initiated a predictably long process towards the normalization of ties.
Most people who talk about the subject tend to think -- and express their views -- about what the advantages of such contacts mean for Cuba and hope, as the result of actions pending in the U.S. Congress, for the possible lifting of the punitive measures.
Nevertheless, these new relations will also bear fruit for the United States, not only in terms of business and trade with Cuba, including the return to a market that has been denied to them by their own successive governments.
Ordinary U.S. citizens will also benefit. A recent example of which arose during last April’s visit by a business and political delegation led by the governor of the state of New York, Andrew Cuomo.
The occasion facilitated the signing by the Cuban Molecular Immunology Center and the Roswell Park Institute of the state of New York of an agreement to import a therapeutic cancer vaccine, developed on the Caribbean island, into the United States.
The director of the New York institution, Candace Johnson, said that “this contract means that we can start our own clinical trials” as she spoke of the results of the business delegation led by Governor Cuomo.
There are other Cuban pharmaceutical and biotechnological products and services that could also be of benefit to the U.S.
The Cuban medication Heberprot-P, the only of its kind in the world for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers and that significantly reduces the risk of amputation, is one such example.
Renowned U.S. scientists have showed interest in the positive impact of this product in Cuba and in other countries.
These U.S. experts are keen to acquire it because it is recognized as offering real hope for a reduction in the present number of mellitus diabetesrelated amputations in their nation.
Heberprot-P is now licensed in 26 countries, where it has been applied to 160,000 patients with significant results.
For this and other reasons, the new prospects for Cuba-U.S. relations are also positive for the U.S., given that they will gain access to certain goods and services that, despite development levels in their country, are not presently available.
Nevertheless, as dawned on Governor Cuomo himself and everybody else on the long list of personalities that have visited the island in recent months, the mutually advantageous exploitation of the results of the bilateral rapprochement will only be possible if the U.S. Congress fully lifts the blockade against Cuba, which has been in place for over 50 years.
However, as the lung cancer vaccine contract demonstrates, there are some small steps than can be implemented in the short run, considering president Obama´s broad executive powers which he could employ to bypass the blockade by issuing licenses and other means.
Notwithstanding the decision taken by the White House chief to embark on a new course in ties with Cuba, he has to date not used such prerogatives to any significant degree other than to circumscribe flexibility on travel restrictions for a dozen categories of U.S. citizens and other actions of minor consequence.
There are many other aspects in this and other sectors in which Obama could implement new initiatives without waiting for legislators to decide to lift the blockade. Under the latter, for example, U.S. tourism to Cuba is still prohibited by law; the repeal of which would be yet another positive result for both the U.S. and Cuba.Share on FB Share on TT