Elio Delgado Legón
HAVANA TIMES — A new chapter in the history of Cuba-US relations began on December 17 of last year when, at noon that day, the presidents of the two countries appeared before the world to announce a series of important decisions, the most significant of which, in my view, was that the steps needed to normalize relations between the two nations would begin to be taken.
To normalize the diplomatic relations broken by the United States in January of 1961, officials from the two countries have already begun to gather and the first meeting between delegations has been held in Havana. This will be followed by others, until the obstacles in the way of normal relations, such as the fact the Cuban consulate in Washington is not permitted to hold a US dollar bank account to conduct its operations, are eliminated. I trust such “details” will be worked out and the countries’ respective embassies will finally be opened in both Washington and Havana.
Diplomatic relations, however, are only the first step down the long road we will have to traverse to truly normalize relations between the two countries.
In the first place, as I’ve written previously, the laws that sustain the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed on Cuba more than fifty years ago will have to be repealed, as measures that violate international law, the foundational charter of the Organization of American States (OAS), the UN Charter and the Constitution of the United States itself.
In his December 17 speech, however, President Obama made no mention of any of these “details.” Nor did he say that the policy towards Cuba that the United States has maintained for more than five decades has been criminal and genocidal, that, from the start, its sole objective was to bring about hunger, disease and despair among the people of Cuba, so that they would overthrow the government.
Nowhere in his speech does he make mention the thousands of people who were killed or injured by covert CIA operations approved by US administrations, nor does he speak of how the Company introduced plagues that decimated Cuba’s pig population, one of the main sources of food of the Cuban people, destroyed citrus plantations (and important export and widely consumed product), seriously affected other crops and caused the country enormous economic damage. We would also have to add the introduction of hemorrhagic dengue that caused 101 children and dozens of adults their lives.
In his speech, President Obama said: “(…) we will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests.” He is very clear, in other words, that it is not that US policy is immoral and ethically unacceptable (reasons that have led the US General Assembly to condemn it almost unilaterally), but that it is outdated and has failed to advance US interests.
As I stated in a previous post, we Cubans are not and have never been enemies of the people of the United States – and the thousands of US citizens who have managed to travel to Cuba over the past 50 years, despite the blockade, can attest to that. All are surprised when they come into contact with Cuban reality and how different it is from the idea that their country’s media have hammered into them.
The new policy towards Cuba entails a change in method but it pursues the same end: to change our country’s political and economic system. They may have set aside the club to destroy our socialist revolution, but they are now using a carrot to lead astray the naïve who are lured by the siren-song of neoliberal capitalism, a system that has given conclusive signs of having failed the world over.
Perhaps we will no longer need to resort to stone trenches, but we will have to ready and efficiently use the trenches of our ideas, the ones our national hero Jose Marti once spoke of – because now is when the true battle of ideas begins.
We must be clear, however, that the changes being introduced into Cuba and those to be introduced in the future stem from the need to perfect our socialist system, to make it more prosperous and sustainable, in order to improve the life of the population, and that they do not respond to interventionist pressures from any foreign power.