Janis Hernández

Columns.  Photo: Juan  Suarez
Columns. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban news have been touching on the issue of the US embargo and the re-establishment of relations between Washington and Havana for some time now. The headlines have already become rather monotonous.

What’s very curious for me is the rhetoric used by the local media to address the issue. If there is any real interest in a rapprochement, then such language must be devoid of arrogance. This does not mean, of course, that one should assume a submissive posture if any talks ever came to pass. I don’t know why some of the things Cuban spokespeople have said strike me as rather simplistic and even inflexible.

When interpersonal, group or international relations have been broken off or become hostile and one has the intention, need or desire to fix these, one’s attitude, and therefore the words one uses to re-establish harmony, play a crucial role. If this fails, the alternative is that old saying saying, “begging for change with a shotgun.”

I think it best that I share the journalistic piece that prompted these thoughts.

I was watching the evening news. I don’t often pay much attention to the news, which is perhaps why I didn’t hear who the author of the report was. What I do know is that the report was on the prerogatives Barack Obama has as president, prerogatives that allow him to put an end to US economic embargo on Cuba without consulting Congress or anyone else.

On this one point, the journalist’s arguments could be considered sound. Her remarks began sounding less serious, however, when she added that, in addition, Obama has the power to and should close the Guantanamo Naval Base, take Cuba off the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, extradite the confessed terrorists that live in the United States and free the three Cuban agents who are still imprisoned there.

The tone was one of demand and was accompanied by the word “immediately.” At no point in the report did I hear anything about what changes Cuba was willing to make in the event the US administration wanted to hold talks of any kind.

The piece was laughable. The only thing missing was asking the “age-old enemy” to become Cuba’s main commercial partner. There was no mention of any democratic changes in the country. It would seem as though the United States is the only one that ought to rethink its position vis-à-vis Cuba and that Cuba can demand anything it wishes.

Getting back to popular sayings, I am reminded of the so called “funnel law”: we get the broad end, the others the narrow one. Nothing essential has changed, so, what reconciliation could we possibly hope for?


Janis Hernández

Janis Hernandez: I don’t seek to change the world, much less give recipes on how it should or shouldn’t be. I don’t have the gift of oratory or that of the letters. I’m not an analyst or a philosopher. I am just an observer of the things that happen around me and I feel obligated to speak about my country without a muzzle, just write and that’s what I do in my diary.

3 thoughts on “On Cuba’s Demands on the US

  • The United States has never been interested in introducing democracy anywhere in the world .
    Those who think so are magnificently ignorant people.
    ( for the evidence go to “Killing Hope” or “Rogue State ” websites by William Blum and read just the introductions )
    The only two things Cuba could do to lift U.S. sanctions and hostilities is to revert to feral capitalism in place of its present state capitalism and to stop opposing U.S. imperialism/hegemony in the world.
    In 1918 the U.S. invaded the nascent Soviet Union to overthrow what was perceived as a communist revolution . Present day U.S. hostilities are just a continuation of that policy which has resulted in well over 60 U.S. interventions to prevent or overthrow democratic and humanitarian movements just since WWII.
    .
    That is the historical reality.
    Go read the recommended books if you think differently THEN tell me I’m wrong. .

  • The journalist is either ignorant of US law, or purposefully misrepresenting it.

    The US president does not have the executive authority to repeal Helms-Burton and lift the embargo. Obama did soften a few of the regulations by executive order, but that was as far as he could go. For his efforts, the Cuban government gave him nothing in return.

    The US President does have the authority to release the last 3 of the convicted Cuban Five spies. He hasn’t done so yet, and with a reduced political mandate it is unlikely he will bother trying. He cannot extradite terrorists such as Luis Posada to Cuba. For one thing, there is no extradition treaty between the two countries. The US Constitution prevents such arbitrary exercises of power by the US government, not a concept many Cubans are familiar with.

    Obama tried to close the terrorist prisoner camp at Guantanamo Bay, but he could not find enough support in Congress, even when the Democrats held majorities in both Houses. Now that the Republicans hold the majorities, there is no chance in hell he could ever manage to close Gitmo. It was never on the US political agenda to close the whole of the US Naval Base in Guantanamo, Cuba. That issue will have to remain for Cuba & the US to negotiate some day down the road.

    But it will all have to involve negotiation. Obama won’t do these things just because Raul or some pet journalist on Cuban state TV show demands it of him. Obviously, the Cuban government knows all this, which is why such TV shows and petulant demands are for internal consumption only.

    The bottom line is this: the US President has a lot on his plate right now, little time and even less political mandate. Cuba ranks somewhere around #3792 on his To-Do list. Take a number.

  • It is quite common for Castro regime supporters to likewise exhort a list of changes that the US should make to ‘improve’ relations with Cuba. These same supporters seem blind or ignorant to, at the very least, a quid pro quo from the Castro authorities. It may be well be time to consider taking Cuba off the list of States which sponsor terrorism. To do so should require some changes in Cuba’s foreign policy to assure the US that Cuba will not “return to its own vomit”. Other US executive branch changes which relax restrictions on travel and international finance are also possible, but in trade is Cuba prepared to release political prisoners and allow greater independent press freedom and internet access? Finally, before the US could begin to consider negotiating any of these changes, Raul should send Alan Gross home to his family. Excellent article.

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