Behind the New Cuba – US Agreement

Isbel Diaz Torres

New hotel construction in Varadero. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – The news about the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the governments of Cuba and the United States has taken nearly everyone by surprise, but perhaps it has not been as unexpected for those of us who have been following the process of capitalist restoration on the island.

The current diplomatic agreement will certainly help curb interventionist measures by the US government, particularly the unilateral blockade on the island, but it does not mean that the White House has abandoned its imperialist aims and will cease imposing economic and political models on the rest of the world.

The same agreement criticizes the previous approach but not its objectives. In that way, it insists on “implementing changes in Cuba” and the financing of “the programming of democracy in Cuba.”

“The administration will continue to implement US programs aimed at promoting positive change in Cuba”: this is the White House’s current position (which, conveniently, has not been divulged by Cuba’s official media).

The Cuban government knows that but Gen. Raul Castro claims we have arrived at this point without sacrificing any of our principles, when, in fact, what we have seen is the gradual abandonment of the anti-imperialist principles of the Cuban revolution and the aim of building socialism.

The agreement also does not mean that Cuba is considering a process of democratization and respect towards the political and civil rights of its citizens.

As I see it, the current change in diplomatic policy is, among other things, a reward the US government is giving Cuba for its efforts at normalization and its uncritical insertion in the world order, and it reveals the interests shared by the two States.

This, of course, stems from the fact these States are confident or estimate that this step will bring economic benefits to both their elites. Principles are never the main force that moves States.

I am of course in favor of putting behind the tricks with which both governments have alienated us for decades. Now, everything is much clearer, and USAID will be able to make its payments directly to the Cuban government, as per the “high-level commitment with Cuban officials” the White House mentions in its communiqué.

It is no accident the issue of private property in Cuba (one of the main, explicit demands of the Right and an implicit demand of the political and economic elites on this end) is addressed again and again in the document.

The longed-for moment in which the island is delivered into the hands of Capital is nearing, threatening to swallow us up in the predatory logic of the world order. Will that be better than the inefficiency and downright failure of Cuba’s model?

To shift my attention to another issue, I would like to point out that I support the release of prisoners by both countries, all of whom were “active victims” of the Cold War maintained by the two governments. At the human and family level, it is a highly positive decision, albeit one without much political importance.

In my view, it is a distraction that conceals more serious (systemic) issues, such as the development of a secret negotiations process whose terms have not been made public.

“We, the All-Mighty States, are the only salvation possible,” “look at how good we are”: is what they seem to be saying to us as they dismantle us as a society and individuals.

I hope that this abandonment of utopia (now made explcit) will at least help reunite Cuban families, the true victims of this hatred among States.



Isbel Diaz

Isbel Diaz Torres: Pinar del Rio and Havana are my cities. I was born in one on March 1, 1976, and I’ve always lived in the other. I am a biologist and poet, though at times I’ve also been a musician, translator, teacher, computer geek, designer, photographer and editor. I’m very non-conformist and a defender of differences – perhaps due to always having been an ever-repressed “model child.” Nothing enthralls me more than the unknown, nature and art; these serve as my sources of mystery and development. A surprising activism has been born in me over the recent period. Though I’m not very sure how to channel it, I feel that it’s a worthy and legitimate energy. Let’s hope I have the discernment to manage it.

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12 thoughts on “Behind the New Cuba – US Agreement

  • Poetic license aside, you make no sense, grammatically or otherwise. Castro bootlickers always fail in substantive debate. Maybe that’s the reason there is no freedom of speech in Cuba.

  • “you deep but you shallow at the same time”

  • Ironic isn’t it? Isbel would not have “limited access to the internet” if my comments really were “nonsense” instead of being the painful truth. Armchair Bolsheviks like you and your cadre of US-haters are good at sniping and making sarcastic comments but “a little light in the britches” when it comes to substantive and fact-based dialogue around the real problems facing the Cuban people.

  • I hope Isbel won’t waste his limited access to the internet on any of your nonsense.

  • Yes.

  • I am always willing to reconsider my opinion based upon future evidence. Like you, I sincerely hope this change in direction will help the Cuban people, without empowering the Castro regime.

    As you say, time will tell.

  • Dan, is English your first language? My point is that despite our flaws, the US is most willing to expose our weaknesses and then we work hard to correct them. And no, there is only one United States of America.

  • Dan, despite repeated references to websites that show the imperial depravity of the U.S. foreign policy, you should note that those like Moses who dwell in that fantasy land will not look seriously at anything that disproves what they choose to believe or SAY that they believe.
    I always recommend a look at both the “Killing Hope” and ‘Rogue State ” websites which lists in great detail the great many U.S. “flaws” that NO ONE in the government or the corporate media will ever talk about or expose.to the public.
    Oh it’s all real history and very factual but discussion of these great many atrocities are forbidden for a couple of reasons you and I would be familiar with .

  • “No country more so than the US is more self-critical and willing to expose our flaws”. Really ? Is there some other United States of America out there that I don’t know about ?

  • Griffin, after the dust kicked up by all the celebrating has settled, I would ask you to consider what has really changed. An full-on embassy has been promised but Senate approval of the ambassador will come at a high price. We anti-CASTRO folks hope the price is some concession from the Castro dictatorship regarding media or free speech. Likewise, financial transaction concessions announced make it easier for US businesses to sell food and medicine to Cuba and to import DIRECTLY from Cuban producers. Both changes will require the Castros to relax policies on their side in order to take full advantage of these changes. For example, US producers will be able to accept letters of credit from PRIVATE buyers to facilitate purchases. Government importers will still be prohibited. The Castro will have to allow private importation. As you know, currently ALIMPORT is the sole authorized agency allowed to import goods into Cuba. The fact that I will be able to use my American Express card in Cuba will likely increase my wife’s spending while visiting her folks in Guantanamo unfortunately. This will no doubt increase government receipts. But I believe this won’t amount to a huge bump in revenues ending up in the Castros pockets. Licensed purposeful travel is still well-guarded and Cuban expats like my wife have different spending habits. I don’t see this change having a huge impact on the economic well-being of Cuba. The economic ship of state in Cuba is in dire straits. There is less than a snowball’s chance in hell that Cuban GDP will grow from this years questionable 1.3% to over 4% as predicted by Murillo and later echoed by Raul. The US economy, which is blazing hot won’t hit 4% next year. I think Obama has made a calculated decision to get the Castro monkey off his back WITH little more than window dressing changes. Time will tell.

  • Isbel, there are some journalists of very different political orientation than yours who have come to the same conclusions you did.

    Writing in the Washington Post about Obama’s new Cuba policy, Jackson Dheil wrote, “Contrary to Obama’s rhetoric, however, it is a policy that reduces the possibility of near-term democratization in favor of economic benefits and geopolitical stability.”

    Sadly, I have to agree. Obama has betrayed Cuban dissidents and handed the Castro regime a lifeline, all in the name of political stability and economic opportunity.

  • I really hope Isbel gets to read my comment: Isbel, don’t get your hopes up about lifting the embargo anytime soon. Isbel, like many pro-Castro commenters, you seem to be ignoring or failing to read the fine print of this new agreement. By the President’s own words, we have been cautioned to not expect the embargo to be lifted soon. On the contrary, given the new visibility of Cuba to the US media, it is more likely that the Obama administration will make efforts to justify the sudden olive branch extended to the Castros dictatorship by visibly promoting efforts to bring democracy to the Cuban people. Finally, your observation that the US seems to be saying “look at how good we are” is slightly wrong. What the US stands for is “look how good we are trying to be”. No country more so than the US is more self-critical and willing to expose our flaws. At the same time, no country works harder at trying to improve ourselves despite our many flaws. Cuba would do well to learn to be more self-critical and expend more energy to improve than Cuba expends making excuses and blaming others.

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