Raul Castro’s Decrepit Speech at the Panama Summit

Janis Hernández

Raul Castro at the April 10-11 Summit of the Americas in Panama.  Photo: cubadebate.cu

HAVANA TIMES — Ten days after leaders from the region met at the Summit of the Americas held in Panama, Cuban television is still airing fragments of Raul Castro’s address between different programs.

In recent days, the news announced that “all of the people of Cuba support Raul’s remarks at the Summit of the Americas.” As proof of this, they showed four members of one family watching TV in their living room and very phony-looking images of these individuals reading the front page of Cuba’s official newspaper, Granma, where, of course, an article about this speech appeared.

Since our media will never give voice to a dissenting opinion, I want to take advantage of this opportunity to express my personal opinions about this.

The official Cuban civil society representatives who attended the Summit of the Americas in Panama were not the only ones who revealed the violent nature of Castro supporters. Their leader himself also offered a clear demonstration of their intolerant nature.

The first thing he did was try and steal the show during the first presidential session, speaking, not for the 8 minutes allotted everyone, but for half an hour, saying he could do so because he had been absent from previous summits.

Then came a tedious speech reminiscent of a history lesson that offered a kind of apologetic account of why he and his brother had remained in power for so many years, a speech that, far from making him look good, turned out to be strategically clumsy, bearing in mind his speech came right after the statements made by Barack Obama, who had just said history lessons would not help them overcome current economic, political and social conflicts.

His long sermon was full of silences and attempts to regain his train of thought. He lost his place in the speech several times and it was thanks to his foreign minister, who was sitting next to him whispering him the lines, like in an amateur play, that his speech wasn’t even more embarrassing.

To top things off, the second half of his spiel was devoted to praising the US president, excusing himself for the catharsis and laying the blame for the damage the US embargo has caused Cuba on previous presidents alone.

It was near the end that he seemed to remember where he was and why, and only then did he refer to the matters that are of concern to the summit. He didn’t fail to express his support for the government of Venezuela and, very much in the style of his brother, when he addressed Cuban intellectuals in the 60s, he concluded: “Within the revolution, everything; against the revolution, nothing!”

Thus, once fully immersed in the Summit, Raul Castro made perfectly clear that he isn’t willing to make any political concessions, invoking the pretext of self-determination and sovereignty, as well as all of the bad memories surrounding the pernicious damage the United States has caused Latin America.

In a different context, the Cuban president shook Obama’s hand and the tone of their conversation was fairly cordial, because the General knows that a change in relations with the United States is crucial for a country that can no longer hold itself up with banners and slogans.

Personally, his speech reminded me of Fidel Castro’s last public appearances, where a decadent statesman revealed the decrepitude of the system he represented.

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.

27 thoughts on “Raul Castro’s Decrepit Speech at the Panama Summit

  • April 28, 2015 at 11:51 am

    There were bombing raids carried out in 1959 & 1960 by Cuban exiles flying their own planes from airstrips in Puerto Rico and Florida. The CIA was not involved with these operations, and the US authorities did move to stop them, although not always vigorously so.

    During the Bay of Pigs, there were a few bombing raids carried out by Cuban piloted planes against several Cuba airstrips. The CIA was involved in training, arming and supporting those missions. There were also few American CIA pilots who were in action during the Bay of Pigs.

    No US Airforce or US Navy airplanes were ever involved in bombing raids against Cuba.

  • April 28, 2015 at 11:17 am

    Just the reply I expected. Of course, everyone knows that any Joe with a pilot’s license can just drive onto the tarmac of their local airport, load couple 500 pound bombs from their pick-up on to the B-24 they bought at Sears, (this was before Walmart), and go bomb a foreign country, with being noticed by the FFA or anyone else. You must be right. It’s all Castro propaganda.

  • April 27, 2015 at 10:02 am

    I don’t think that you could have selected a more biased historical account of US/Cuban relations if you had picked one written by Fidel Castro himself. The “bombing raids” alleged to have taken place in 1959 have been disputed from the very first time they were alleged and no one has ever been able to prove CIA involvement. To be sure, the CIA has been behind some sneaky crap in Latin America. But Jane Franklin’s account proves nothing. She is simply retelling the unproven allegations common to Castro propaganda.

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