‘Ripe Fruit’ returns: Gravity is pulling Cuba back to US, says leading Think Tank





Church of the Infanta, Havana

By Stephen Wilkinson

It is now time for financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, and the United States to reach out to Cuba as it pursues economic reforms, a new Washington think tank report says.

In language that echoes John Quincy Adams’s 19th century policy of the ‘ripe fruit’ in which Cuba was seen as inevitably falling into the hands of the United States, the report, published by the Brookings Institution on 19 November, says the incipient economic reforms started by Cuban President Raul Castro are an admission that it is once again inevitable that the island will be integrated into the hemispheric economy.

The report’s author, Professor Richard Feinberg, concludes:

“Geography dictates that, eventually, Cuba will become fully integrated not only into the global economy but also into the Caribbean Basin. In preparing to take advantage of the widening of the Panama Canal by constructing shipping facilities at Mariel to service the Eastern seaboard of the United States, and by authorizing new golf courses and boat marinas that only American citizens could fully occupy, the Cuban authorities are signaling that they understand the powerful gravitational pull of geography—that Cuba and the United States will, inevitably, once again become economic partners. In approaching Cuban economic reform, the United States should join with the international development community in nudging forward that irresistible flow of history.”

Richard Feinberg, is a non-resident senior fellow with the Latin America Initiative at the Brookings Institution. He served as special assistant to President Bill Clinton for National Security Affairs and senior director of the National Security Council’s (NSC) Office of Inter-American Affairs.

The Brookings publication is one of several reports by U.S. think tanks that have recently urged President Barack Obama’s administration to respond positively to the reforms currently under way in Cuba. The reforms, endorsed by the Communist Party in April, include measures such as allowing Cubans to buy and sell cars and homes. They also widen self-employment and private business opportunities. Detailed coverage of the reforms and their effects in Cuba are featured in recent issues of the International Journal of Cuban Studies.

Feinberg blames what he calls “the unyielding Cuban-American lobby” in the United States for bullying the U.S. government into blocking any outreach toward Cuba from the IFIs.