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.