The cost of the illegal blockade to the Cuban economy has run to over a trillion dollars, making life hard for many on the island. So it is great news that Castro and Obama has managed to come up with a deal that signals the end of this act of economic war. On a more personal level, the release of the remaining members of the Miami 5 is hugely welcomed, albeit after decades of inhuman treatment at the hands of the US government.
So what has brought on this apparently sudden change of heart? The cynic in me would say that Obama is thinking about his legacy, and that it won't make too much of an impact on Hilary Clinton's chances of winning for the Democrats next time round.
It could be that reason that the US government gave for the blockade (that Cuba sponsored terrorism) was increasingly known to be ludicrous, and it was beginning to make US policy makers look completely stupid.
Whatever the reason, the lifting of the blockade could hopefully relieve some of the pressures on the Cuban people, and help the nation continue it's proud example of socialism. Its record on healthcare, agronomic development, education and international solidarity (Cuba was the first nation to send doctors in large numbers to ebola struck West Africa ) are second to none. For a small country it has always managed to punch above it's weight.
I recently watched 'Che' pt 1, the film based on Guevara's memoirs about the rise of revolutionary Cuba. It is a nation forged by revolutionaries who fought off US backed oppression, and managed to win against all the odds. Over 50 years later, it has never been defeated, not by attempted invasions, terrorist attacks, assassination attempts on Castro and other Cuban leaders, economic sabotage or the fall of the socialist bloc. Cuba remains one of the proudest achievements of human endeavour. There is an alternative model to capitalism - and it can produce excellent results in education, in healthcare and produce a fairer redistribution of wealth.
Cuba is not without its problems - it is neither socialist heaven nor the hell that the capitalist press like to claim. At least now it might be able to develop its own sovereign form of socialism free from the economic war that has been waged against it for over half a century