Back to square one for Cuba (2)

Last February, with five other heritage advocates, I spent 10 delightful days in Cuba. Based in Havana, we toured the countryside, visited Trinidad and Cienfuegos, had lunch near Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs), spent time at museums of colonial art and revolutionary memories, peeked at Hemingway’s house and favorite hang-out, passed by tobacco plantations, danced the samba, sipped famous Bacardi rum in its splendidly restored Art Deco building, drove around in 1950’s Cadillacs; we felt very much at home in Cuba, our half-sister. Havana was teeming with American tourists and in the elevator of Melia Hotel, we met a group of New Yorkers who, like us, were absolutely enchanted with Cuba.

On 14 October 2014, then President Barack Obama issued the “Normalization of Relations between the United States and Cuba” which, in a way, recognized Cuba’s independence, sovereignty, and the legitimacy of her government by lifting the blockade imposed since 1962. Cuba welcomed Obama’s enlightened directive although its government was aware that it was meant “to trigger changes in the economic, political, and social systems of Cuba, for the benefit of the USA.”At any rate, Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama announced the renewal of diplomatic ties and the normalization of bilateral relations between their two countries.

We were so horridlydisappointed when President Donald Trump obliterated the rapprochement brought about by the Obama administration. Last 16 June, he made a vitriolic anti-Cuban speech at a theater in Miami; it did not come as a surprise.

Shortly after, the Cuban government issued a statement worldwide against President Trump’s policy directive: “The United States is not in the position to teach us lessons. We have serious concerns about the respect for and guarantees of human rights in that country [the USA].”

In astrongly wordedofficial statement, Cuba reminded the USA and the international community that it is party to 44 international human rights instruments, while the US is a partyto only18. “Therefore, we have much to show, say, and defend.”

When Cuba and the United States agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations, it was to ratify the intention of both “to develop respectful and cooperative relations between both peoples and governments, based on the principles and purposes enshrined in the UN Charter. In its Declaration issued on July 1, 2015, the Revolutionary Government of Cuba reaffirmed that these relations must be founded on absolute respect for our independence and sovereignty; the inalienable right of every state to choose its political, economic, social, and cultural system, without interference in any form; and sovereign equality and reciprocity, which constitute inalienable principles of International Law, as was established in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by the heads of state and government of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC), at its second summit held in Havana.” Cuba has not renounced these principles, nor will it ever do so.

It reiterated its will to continue a respectful and cooperative dialogue on topics of mutual interest, as well as the negotiation of outstanding issues with the US government.

Gen. Raul Castro, president of the Councils of State and of Ministers, said that during the twoyears of renewed relations, both Cuba and the USA have shown that “they can cooperate and coexist in a civilized manner, respecting the differences and promoting everything that benefits both nations and peoples…” In Cuba’s official statement, the government affirmed that Trump’s bullying is “doomed to fail…” because Trump “will never succeed in weakening the Revolution or bend the Cuban people, whose resistance against aggressions of all sorts and origins has been put to the test throughout almost six decades.”

“The Cuban people enjoy fundamental rights, still a chimera for many countries of the world including the United States, such as the right to health, education, and social security; equal pay for equal work, children’s rights as well as the rights to food, peace, and development. Cuba, with its modest resources, has contributed to the improvement of the human rights situation in many countries of the world, despite the limitations inherent to its condition as a blockaded country.”

The official statement also declared that Cuba should not be expected to concede sovereignty and independence, or accept preconditions of any sort, nor should it be coerced to change its political, economic, and social system. In fact, the Cubans themselves had already made the changes they needed as early as 1959, and,“the ones that we are introducing now as part of the process to update our economic and social system, will continue to be sovereignly determined by the Cuban people.Just as we have been doing since the triumph of the Revolution on January 1st, 1959, we will take on every risk and shall continue to advance steadfastly and confidently in the construction of a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous, and sustainable nation.”

! Adelante Cuba, hasta la victoria siempre!