Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba

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Resumen Latinoamericano/ 09 de Marzo 2016.- This is what the official newspaper of Cuba’s Communist Party, the Granma, wrote in its March 9 edition.

 

The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama will pay an official visit to Cuba from March 20 to 22.

It will be the second time that a US president arrives in our archipelago. It’s only preceded by Calvin Coolidge, who landed in Havana in 1928. He arrived to attend the VI Pan American Conference, which took place under the auspices of an infamous local character, Gerardo Machado. This will be the first time a President of the United States comes to a Cuba that fully owns its sovereignty and with a revolution in power, headed by its historic leadership.

This event is part of a long process, that began in December 17, 2014, when the President of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba, General Raul Castro Ruz and President Barack Obama simultaneously announced the decision to restore diplomatic relations, which had been broken by the United States almost 54 years ago. It is part of the complex process towards the normalization of bilateral relations, which is only beginning, and has advanced on the only possible and right grounds: with respect, equality, reciprocity and acknowledgement of the legitimacy of our government.

This moment is a result of the heroic resistance of the Cuban people and their loyalty to their principles, the defense of national independence and sovereignty, first of all. Such values, which were never negotiated for more than 50 years, have led the current government of the United States to admit the severe damage that the blockade has caused to our population and recognize the failure of the policy of open hostility to the Revolution. Neither force, nor economic coercion nor isolation managed to impose on Cuba a position contrary to its aspirations, which were forged in heroic struggles for almost a century and a half.

The current process with the United States has been possible thanks to the unwavering international solidarity, in particular, of governments and peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, which put the United States in a position of unsustainable isolation. “Like silver in the roots of the Andes” (as our national hero José Martí, wrote in his essay “Our America”) Latin America and the Caribbean, strongly united, demanded a policy change regarding Cuba. This regional demand was unequivocally underlined in the Summits of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, in 2009, and Cartagena, Colombia, in 2012, when all countries in the region unanimously and categorically demanded the lifting of the blockade and the participation of our country in the VII hemispheric meeting in Panama in 2015, which, for the first time, a Cuban delegation attended, headed by Raul.

Since the announcements in December 2014, Cuba and the United States have taken steps to improve the bilateral context.

On July 20, 2015, diplomatic relations were officially restored with the commitment of developing them on the basis of respect, cooperation and observance of the principles of international law.

Meetings between the Presidents of both countries, as well as exchanges of visits by ministers and other contacts of senior officials, have taken place. Cooperation in various areas of mutual benefit moves forward and discussion spaces open. This allows new dialogues on issues of bilateral and multilateral interest, including those on which we have different views.

The President will be welcomed by the Government of Cuba and its people with the hospitality that distinguishes us and will be treated with all the consideration and respect of a head of state.

This will be an opportunity for the President of the United States to directly appreciate a nation committed with its economic and social development and committed to the improvement of citizen’s welfare. People enjoy their rights and display achievements that are a distant dream for many other countries in the world, despite the limitations of being a blocked and underdeveloped country, something that earns Cuba recognition and respect internationally.

Obama will meet a country that actively contributes to peace and stability in both regional and global levels, and shares with other peoples not only those goods that Cuba doesn’t need, but its modest resources available, making solidarity an essential element of its reason for being and welfare of humanity, as Martí bequeathed us, one of the fundamental objectives of its foreign policy.

He will also have the opportunity to meet a noble, friendly and dignified people with a high sense of patriotism and national unity, which has always fought for a better future despite the adversities it has faced. The President of the United States will be greeted by a revolutionary people with a profound political culture, which is the result of a long tradition of struggle for true and definitive independence, first against Spanish colonialism and then against the imperialist domination of the United States; a struggle in which its best sons have shed their blood and assumed all risks. A people who will never back down from its defense of its principles and the vast work of the Revolution, which continues without hesitation the example of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, José Martí, Antonio Maceo, Julio Antonio Mella, Ruben Martinez Villena, Antonio Guiteras and Ernesto Che Guevara, among many others.

This is also a town that is united by historical, cultural and emotional bonds with the US, whose paradigmatic figure, writer Ernest Hemingway, received the Nobel for Literature for a novel set in Cuba. A people showing gratitude to those children of the United States, as Thomas Jordan, Henry Reeve, Winchester and Frederick Funston Osgood, fought with the Liberation Army in our wars for independence from Spain; and those who more recently opposed the aggression against Cuba, defied the blockade, as the Rev. Lucius Walker, to bring their solidarity and their help to our people, and supported the return to the Homeland of Elián González and the Cuban Five. Marti learned to admire Lincoln’s homeland and to repudiate Cutting.

It is worth remembering the words of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz, on September 11, 2001, when he said: “Today is a day of tragedy for the United States. You know well that here hatred against the American people has never been sown. Perhaps precisely because of its culture and its lack of prejudice, by feeling completely free, with a homeland and without a master, Cuba may be the country with most concerned about the US citizens. We have never preached any kind of national hatred, or anything similar to fanaticism, that is why we are so strong, because our way of living is based on principles and ideas, and we treat with great respect -they noticed this- all Americans who visit to our country”.

This is the people that will receive Presidente Barack Obama, proud of its history, its roots, its national culture and a people that trusts that a better future is possible. A nation that assumes, with serenity and determination, the current face in relation with US and that recognizes opportunities and unresolved matters between both countries.

Visit of the US president will be an important step in the process towards normalization of bilateral relations. We must remember that Obama, as James Carter did before, has proposed, given his capacities as president, to work in order to normalize bonds with Cuba, and consequently, he has carried out concrete actions in this direction.

However, to reach this normalization there is a long and complex road ahead, which will require the solution of key issues that have accumulated over five decades and that have deepened the confrontational nature of the bonds between the two countries. Such problems will not be solved in the overnight nor with a presidential visit.

To normalize relations with the United States will be crucial that the economic, commercial and financial blockade is lifted, which causes hardship to the Cuban people and is the main obstacle in the development of the economy of our country.

It must be recognized that President Barack Obama’s position that the blockade has to be removed and his calls to the Congress to lift it. This is also a major and growing demand of the American public, and almost unanimous in the international community, which in 24 consecutive occasions approved in the United Nations General Assembly the Cuban resolution: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba“.

The president has taken steps to modify the application of some aspects of the blockade, which is positive. Senior administration officials have said that some others are being studied. However, it has not been possible to implement a good part of the measures for its limited scope, for the persistence of other regulations and for the intimidating effects of the blockade as a whole, which has been harshly applied for over fifty years.

It is paradoxical that on the one hand, the government takes measures and then it deepens sanctions against Cuba, which affect the daily lives of our people.

Reality continues to demonstrate that the blockade is maintained and implemented with integrity and with a marked extraterritorial scope, which has a deterrent effect for companies and banks in the United States and other countries. An example of this, includes the multimillion sanctions that are imposed to US companies and banks because for establishing relations with Cuba; denial of services and closing financial operations of international banks with our country; and the freezing of legitimate transfers of funds from cuba, and to Cuba, even in other currencies.

The people of Cuba hopes that the visit of the US president may consolidate his willingness to actively engage in a thorough discussion with the Congress to lift the blockade and that, in the meantime, he continues using his executive powers to modify as much as possible its application, without the need of a legislative action.

Other issues that are harmful to Cuban sovereignty also need to be resolved in order to achieve normal relations between the two countries. The territory occupied by the Naval Base of the United States in Guantanamo, occupied against the will of our government and people, must be returned to Cuba, fulfilling the unanimous desire of Cubans for over a hundred years ago. Interventionist programs aimed to provoke destabilizing situations and changes in the political, economic and social order of our country must be eliminated. The policy of “change of regime” has to be definitely buried.

It must abandon the pretense of making an internal political opposition financed with money from American taxpayers. They will have to put an end to radio and television aggressions against Cuba, which are in clear violation of international law and the unlawful use of the telecommunications policy objectives, recognizing that the objective will not be exerting a certain influence on Cuban society, but setting technology in favour of development and knowledge.

The preferential immigration treatment given to our citizens under the Cuban Adjustment Act and the Wet feet, dry feet policy, caused loss of human lives and encouraged illegal migration and people trafficking, plus it generated problems for others countries. This situation must be changed, as it would have to be cancelled the “parole” program for Cuban medical professionals, depriving the country of vital human resources to meet the health of our people and affects the beneficiaries of the cooperation of Cuba with nations that need it. In addition, it must also be changed the policy that makes a condition for the Cuban athletes to break with their country to play in the United States leagues.

These past policies are inconsistent with the new stage that the US government has started with our country. All this measures were applied before President Obama, but he could modify some of them by executive decision and eliminate others entirely.

Cuba has committed in the construction of a new relation with the US in full exercise of its national sovereignty, and has committed with its ideas of social justice and solidarity. But nobody could ask us to resign our principles, nor abandoned what is declared in our Constitution: “Economic relations, diplomatic relations with any other State may never be negotiated under aggression, threat or coercion by a foreign power”.

Nobody could doubt about the strict adherence of Cuba to its revolutionary and anti-imperialist ideals, and its foreign policy committed to the just causes in the world, the defense of self-determination of peoples and the traditional support to our sister countries.

As stated in the final Declaration of the Revolutionary Government, Cuba will always give its solidarity to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the government led by President Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian and Chavista people, who are struggling to follow their own path and are facing systematic destabilization attempts and unilateral sanctions established by Executive Order unfounded and unjust since March 2015, which have been condemned by Latin America and the Caribbean. The notification issued on March 3, that announced the renewing of the so-called “National Emergency” and the extension of sanctions, are a direct and unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela and its sovereignty. That Order should be abolished and this will be Cuba’s permanent and firm claim.

We got here, we say once again, to defend our convictions and because we are attended by reason and justice.

Cuba affirms its will to advance in relations with the United States, based on the observance of the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and the principles of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by the Heads of State and Government of the region, including full respect for their independence and sovereignty, the inalienable right of every state to choose the political, economic, social and cultural system without interference in any form; equality and reciprocity.

Cuba states once again its full willingness to keep a respectful dialogue with the Government of the United States and to develop relations of civilized coexistence. Living together does not mean having to give up the ideas in which we believe and which we have brought here, our socialism, our history, our culture.

The profound differences of views between Cuba and the United States on political models, democracy, exercise of human rights, social justice, international relations, peace and global stability, among others, will persist.

Cuba defends the indivisibility, interdependence and universality of civil, political, economic, social and cultural human rights. We are convinced that it is the obligation of governments to defend and guarantee the right to health, education, social security, equal pay for equal work, the right of children and the right to food and development. We reject political manipulation and double standards on human rights, which must cease. Cuba, which has acceded to 44 international instruments in its field, while the United States has signed only 18, has a lot to say, to defend and to show.

What we intend we our new type of vinculation with the United States, is that both countries respect their differences and create a relationship based on the benefit of both peoples.

Regardless of the progress that can be achieved in creating bonds with the United States, the Cuban people will go on its struggle. With our own efforts and proven ability and creativity, we will continue working for the country’s development and for the welfare of Cubans. We will not give in in our demand for the lifting of the blockade that has done, and still does, us so much damage. We persist in carrying forward the process of updating the economic and social model that we have chosen, and building a prosperous and sustainable socialism to consolidate the gains of the revolution. A road chosen sovereignly that will surely be ratified at the Seventh Congress of the Communist Party, with Fidel and Raul in the victory.

This is the Cuba that will respectfully welcome President Obama.

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