The Far-Left and Far-Right against Cuban Civil Society

By Lynn Cruz

HAVANA TIMES – If a Cuban living in Cuba harshly criticizes the Government, they are considered a counter-revolutionary. If they also target the US, many of their supporters begin to look at them suspiciously. They might even insult you for being State Security, and even label you a Communist.

The answer to this enigma lies in both of these attitudes. With Barack Obama and Raul Castro’s speeches back in March 2016, a stampede of US tourists came filling hostels, hotels, and even garages turned into rental apartments on the island. Chanel, Hollywood and the Rolling Stones all passed through here.

The US government made Cuba trendy. People became filled with hope. Taxi drivers, craftsmen and even popsicle sellers came out winning. They wiped away 30 years of Sovietism, five years of the Special Period, 17 years of Chavism and 57 years since the beginning of the war Fidel Castro had waged against the US, when he formed an alliance with the collapsed Soviet Bloc.

However, all roads lead to the starting point. Imperialism was in Obama’s hands (at least that’s the way it seemed), on equal terms, with some demands about exchanging political prisoners, the possibility of a dialogue between some civil society groups, to put this apartheid to rest.

The result was a shuffle back and forth, one step forward and one step back as we say here in Cuba. It not only frustrated a small tractor producer, who wanted to set up an assembly plant in Cuba, or Nestle who wanted to negotiate with the private sector directly.

Independent artists also continued to be replaced by institutionalized ones. The old strategy of a smokescreen, of creating an alternative art that is still in line with the Cuban Communist Party’s foundations.

Criticizing in the established way, mentioning aspects of the system but without mentioning names, while Health and Education are still taboo subjects. Independent spaces continued under the watchful eye of the Central Committee’s Ideological Department.

The reality is that the rapprochement process also resulted in quite a few masks coming off within the elite’s own power circle. I remember that a rumor would go around, almost every week. Luxury restaurants closed their doors, such as El Litoral, Starbien, the latter belonging to a son of Abelardo Colome Ibarre, the former vice-president of the State Council and Council of Ministers.

Word had it that drug trafficking was the reason their businesses flopped. Then, that they had taken goods from the State Council’s reserves. The negotiation payment for shooting Fast and the Furious, was never cleared up. So, another minister was given the boot, the Culture minister. After giving the Sundance Institute’s delegation a warm welcome, they were then given the cold shoulder when they came back to the island.

I had never seen so much dividing up of companies, while power was being handed out. Palco was producing movies for TV and competing with RTV Comercial as if they were private companies, or were they already and we just hadn’t been told? A generation with a business mindset, Alejandro Castro’s generation, got the negotiations signed and sealed before speeches were made.

So, shortly after Obama’s visit to Cuba, Fidel was quick to express his disagreement and wrote: Brother Obama. This text appeared in official daily newspaper, Granma.

I must remind you that another democrat, James Carter and his dialogue strategies led to the 1980 crisis, which ended with beatings on the street and the Mariel exodus. 

Moving forward, Bill Clinton picked up where Carter left off, in the ‘90s. Fidel ordered two Brothers to the Rescue aircraft to be shot down. This was an organization whose mission was to rescue balseros (raft people) who were trying to leave Cuba. This event put the dialogue with the US government on hold again, because Clinton found himself forced to sign the Helms-Burton Act.

In the almost 4 years of the current president’s term at the White House, Donald Trump and his bull in a china store policy (like how the world became fragile in the face of the new Coronavirus), have only managed to turn up the heat on repression on the island. The Cuban government is cornered now. It has debts, it isn’t being given credit, so, it is coming down hard on all of its critics because this is a system that only wants to save itself.

It is upsetting to see how many Cubans support this suffocating policy. It means that Cubans abroad look at us with the same ice-cold stare the US government does. Like Machiavelli: “The end justifies the means.” However, nobody thought that something like this pandemic would happen in the same period of time. With the Cuban State without any money, those of us living on the island are even more vulnerable.

Why? Because Cuba is suffering under a totalitarian regime. We don’t have any freedom, which means we depend entirely upon government decisions. This means to say that you need the State to even receive humanitarian assistance.

Why has Trump increased sanctions? The existence of the US embargo is nearly as old as the Cuban Revolution itself, and we have seen how this only serves as an excuse for our government. Why is Senator Marco Rubio now saying it’s justified because of drug-trafficking? Is Venezuela the only reason? Who is really benefitting from this conflict? I really don’t believe that Cuban-American politicians would be so blasé, much less the US government.

35 thoughts on “The Far-Left and Far-Right against Cuban Civil Society

  • Did you lose your pen W?

  • Actually W, Mandela’s first visit abroad was to Zambia on 27th February 1990. He visited Canada commencing on June 17, 1990. As far as I am aware, but you may correct me, he first visited Cuba in 1991. He made two further visits to Canada, in 1991 when he became Canada’s sole living Honorary Citizen and again in 1998. Did he make further visits to Cuba?

  • OK W. Firstly, there is no doubt that the initial copying of a national health service for Cubans was beneficial. Secondly, although introduced for indoctrination, the educational services from creche through to university level was generally beneficial. I have personally benefited from the abilities of Cuban doctors and nurses, and as i have previously written, my wife has a significant role in Cuban education.

    But W have you studied the school books of Cuba? I have. Have you read the successive Constitutions definitions of the purpose of education? I have. Are you aware that medical students in Cuba in addition to studying medicine, have to attend indoctrination lectures upon Marx/Engels/Lenin? That W is in preparation for being hired out in other countries, not only to practice their profession, but to spread communism and retain a small fraction of the fees charged by the regime.

    i note that you do not ask for the negative actions of the Castro regime, and am grateful, for even having written a book about Cuba, there was insufficient space to cover all of them.

    I had not noted that the Cuban dictatorship endeavored to justify itself, but when at home there, am subjected daily to the propaganda. The PCC does actually have a Propaganda Department and it is undoubtedly more efficient than many of the regimes Ministries.

    You are however correct in thinking that from many years of personal experience in Europe with later experience in Cuba, I find nothing within communism to recommend any aspect of it.

    Like you I recognize that Cuba is a dictatorship. But, I detest totalitarian rule and live in the hope that the day will come when communism in Cuba implodes and its people experience freedom.

  • Carlyle, well after Mandela was released his first trip abroad was to Cuba to personally thank Castro for the Cuban support in toppling the apartheid. So apparently Mandela thought Castro played a greater role than Mr Mulroney, even though you don’t want to bother with that. Nothing is black and white, and if one can’t accept that there is a bit of good and a bit of bad in everything you are straying into this far-right-far-left world that leads you nowhere. Here is a test for you to see how far down that road you are: Please name the positive things you think the Castro government has achieved!

    Btw, I’m not exactly justifying the Cuban dictatorship, I’m trying to explain what arguments the Cuban dictatorship brings forth when it sets out to justify itself. I even gave suggestions how the US could change its own policies so that the Cuban dictatorship would find it much harder to justify itself.

  • W. Re-read what Lynn Cruz wrote:

    “If a Cuban living in Cuba harshly criticizes the Government they are considered counter-revolutionary.”

    Do you W, understand that that means jail without trial? In Cuba, it is a criminal offence to criticize the regime. That is the reality under which my family and friends exist. Lynn Cruz as a Cuban resident in Cuba, demonstrates great courage. I admire that – you probably don’t

    When I am at home in Cuba, I never contribute to Havana Times (you may check with the Editor) to express my opposition to the regime, I have to protect my Cuban family. I know the reality of repression.

  • W. My opposition to communism and to the Castro communist regime in Cuba has no relation whatever to any support for the policies of the USA and there is ample evidence that I have been a critic of their policies.

    I credited Barack Obama for his comment, because for Cubans it had significance. I won’t bother to delve into all the things that Mandela said following his release and election as President of South Africa, because the significant difference between Mandela and Castro was that Mandela both believed in and practiced democracy, but for Fidel Castro the freedom offered by democracy was anathema.

    I would also remind you of Mandela’s visit first to Canada following his release, and the role that Canadian PM Brian Mulroney (a Progressive Conservative) had in convincing Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan to support embargo against the South African apartheid regime. They jointly certainly played a greater role in Mandela’s release than Fidel Castro, who as you know, was even opposed to freedom of speech and the rights of the individual.

    I am amazed that you endeavor to justify the dictatorship in Cuba and to support denial of human rights for its people as defined by the UN. It is support for the Castros by sycophants that sickens Cubans. I find it difficult to explain such support by those who shelter under democracy themselves, to Cubans when I am at home.

    Endeavors to link my views to those of the US, leaves a quandary! Do I, in response link your views to those of Mao, Stalin or Pol Pot?

  • Carlyle,
    Is this Mandela you speak of the same person who said this: ‘A source of inspiration to all freedom-loving peoples’ about Fidel Castro? And was not that a choice between “good and evil” the US made when it decided to support the apartheid government in South Africa at the time?

    It seem that both you and the US are focusing on proving how bad the Cuban government is. That alone simply will not do to bring forth any changes. You (and the US) will have to prove that the alternative is better, freer and more just. As the US remains as the driving force advocating change in Cuba it needs to prove that it is the “good” side that honestly is trying to bring freedom and democracy to Cuba. But the past and present blunders, crimes and double standard politics makes it hard for the US to be convincing, doesn’t it?

  • Carlyle,
    “no state has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatsoever, in the internal affairs of any other state.” – United Nations, A/RES/20/2131
    When Russia interfered in the US 2016 elections Dick Cheney went as far as saying it could be “considered as an act of war”. But the Cuban government should just meekly accept this violation of international law?

    Cuban state propaganda does indeed blame the US for everything. And they do have the easiest job, as the US is constantly breaking international law, supporting dictators and apartheid governments, involving itself in illegal wars, coups, mercenary operations and other interventions, while disregarding the well-being of its own people. With a lovely mix of ignorance and arrogance they get caught over and over again so the Cuban propaganda doesn’t even have to lie about it, just state universally recognized facts.

    But if one accepts the idea that the intentions of the US government indeed is to “stand on the side of those who want to be free”, one has to admit that there is a grave failure in conveying this idea to the peoples of the world. Most people of the world names the United States as the biggest threat to world peace, so it is apparent that somewhere along the way the US fails in presenting itself as the “good fighter for freedom, democracy and justice”. This also in democratic countries with free and fair media.

    So here is my question: What does the US do wrong, so that so many people grow to disprove of their policies, instead of embracing their freedom-loving agenda?

    And with all the mighty intelligence, political research and smart leaders and politicians, why do they keep making the same mistakes, that makes it so much easier for anti-american dictators to justify themselves? Wouldn’t a bit more “practice what you preach” approach be more efficient?

  • In your enthusiasm to belittle my response to W, which I continue to believe is correct and balanced, even declaring my political tendency Nick, you find it necessary to display yet again that determination to provide what you have previously described as a “balanced” view, when to all but the illiterate it is abundantly evident that you support to the extreme left of democratic socialism. There is no harm in that provided that you admit it rather than being bashful.

    I provided in response to W, a courteous explanatory response. Maybe Nick, you could provide your own response to his questions?

    As for your usual Good vs Evil phrase, I have clarified that whereas I recognize that there was need for another revolution in Cuba, and that Fidel Castro had the opportunity, similarly to Mandela and Gandhi, to enter the history books as the liberator of his people, he chose the power and control of a communist dictatorship. It was Fidel who had the choice between Good/Evil and it was he who chose the latter.
    Theoretically Nick, would you personally prefer to live under a non-democratic system? Opportunity beckons!

  • Mr MacD, in answer to VV’s question about whether the USA would permit free and fair democratic elections in Cuba you state that ‘yes the USA would want to intervene’
    The USA intervenes everywhere.
    When it comes round to your utopian democratic dreams Mr MacD, the USA always ‘intervenes’. They did so throughout the former Soviet Bloc countries.
    When is the penny gonna drop ?
    Whether it’s yer man-child trump or any other prevailing incumbent of The White House, they can choose to ‘intervene’. That is their prerogative isn’t it Mr MacD ?
    The oddball irony is that when it came to whether or not a narcissistic, mentally ill, screwball would be choosing which tv channels to view in that ol’ White House, them old Russians picked their moment to decisively intervene didn’t they ??

    And this is why your Good vs Evil, Democracy vs Non-Democracy theories start to fall totally flat doncha think?

  • W, it is self-evident that the political reality in Cuba is that of the Stalinist interpretation of Marx/Engels/Lenin. Equally, it is factual that the US has for some fifty nine years endeavored to influence change in that political reality, with a marked lack of success. Politicians in the US have for 180 years – commencing with the Monroe Doctrine, fumbled and bumbled around in their endeavors to exert a level of influence approaching control, of the whole of the Americas, from Canada to Chile. As long ago as 1895, the US Secretary of State wrote to Britain’s Foreign Secretary: “The US is practically sovereign on this continent”

    Within many of their policies, confusion has reigned. For example, the CIA actually provided financial support to Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra, only to apply an embargo some three years later.

    To answer your question, if you read the US Cuban Democracy Act, it lays down conditions for removal of the embargo. Those include a defined period of open media and discussion to enable Cubans to understand the different political parties policies, followed by multi-party open election. Of course, there is within that excellent objective, a very probable assumption that the US would be party to advising. So, yes, the US would want to intervene. But, the organization of desirable change could for example be adjudicated by the UN. All that assumes an amicable agreement by the Cuban regime. It however remains mt view that similarly to the USSR, the system will rot from within – it took over seventy years, but Cuba has experienced sixty to date.

    Such a discussion is however currently academic, as the Communist Party of Cuba is as I observed, the only political party permitted under the Castro Constitution.

    Nobody who knows not only Cuba, but the Cubans, would deny that the US along with obtaining food, is a dominant daily subject. That in part is a consequence of the role that the Cuban State controlled media – both in print, radio and TV plays in daily berating the US and holding it responsible for every sin and error committed by the Castro regime itself.

    What you describe as “the MIami club” does not actually represent all those Cubans who have fled their homeland. I know Cubans in other countries, including Canada, I think that you refer to those, many of whom were Batista supporters (remember that he actually was elected the first time around) who fled Cuba at the time of the revolution. The gripe of that “Miami club” is largely financial, whereas the desire of those who fled later was to obtain freedom. I can say that from personal knowledge living in Cuba with a Cuban wife and “la familia” and knowing visiting exiles, some of whom I knew prior to them fleeing, literally risking their lives, only to return as visitors.

    I mentioned my book, not as a sales aid, but because within it there is a chapter upon the US and its meddling, and also, detail of the Obama visit which I witnessed. I, as you may have judged, tend just to the right of centre politically, but have friends and relatives across the democratic spectrum. But, who can argue with Obama saying publicly in the presence of Raul Castro, Miguel Diaz-Canel, Bruno Rodriguez et al:

    “We stand on the side of those who want to be free,”

    Obama also gave a brief assessment of economics:

    “The wealth of a nation comes not from what it consumes, but from what it produces.”

    That sound advice obviously fell on deaf ears.

  • Carlyle MacDuff, I’m not denying reality. I’m merely saying that the reason behind this reality is not as black and white as the Miami club wants to present it. If one wants to examine the political reality in Cuba one cannot claim that the US has nothing to do with it.

    Thank you for your reasonably precise and accurate answers! However there is one thing I would still like you to clarify: Do you think the US would try to intervene if Cuba were to try to hold a democratic multiparty election? Yes or no?

  • I seem to recall baloney in the UK Nick. I mean the edible kind, sold appropriately, in a red skin and being one of the few forms of British processed foods available when the Attlee Government was busy producing eggs in Gambia and purchasing guava jam and snoek from South Africa. I guess that baloney was intended to make a change from those exotic imports and whale meat.

  • Mr Patterson,
    Although I would agree with some of what you say, I will correct you on a couple of things.
    Firstly, trump did not revert to ‘pre-Obama Cuban policy’. He rejected and overturned only some of the reforms.
    For example he re-established certain restrictions on the rights of U.S citizens with regard to their freedom to travel to Cuba. But by no means all of President Obama’s sensible reforms were overturned.
    For example, down at 2630 16th St NW, Washington DC you will find a lil ol place called the Cuban Embassy. It’s definitely open for business.
    By the way the Kalashnikov AK 47 is reckoned to be the best selling gun in the history of planet earth. And apparently just the other day some fella who lives in Texas was firing one off at Cuba’s embassy in Washington. From the photo it looks like the statue of Jose Marti may have taken a hit !
    Secondly, also you seem to be suggesting that I ‘see conditions on the ground in Cuba’ as I would like them to be?
    If that’s what you’re suggesting, it gives me the opportunity to dust off one of my all time favourite U.S. expressions: ‘That’s a bunch of baloney’

  • W. You continue to demonstrate your dislike of the US, so let’s take that as a given.

    But you asked a question and received a response, which although i say it myself, was reasonably precise and accurate. I do not intend to change or alter it. “Wishes” are irrelevant, you are correct in saying that the Cuban government has “been able to hold elections where the US was not able to meddle although these do not qualify as democratic be western standards.”

    But it is obvious that you did not read the final point that I made regarding the Castro written Constitution of Cuba. It commences by denying opportunity for democratic elections by enforcing one party rule. That W has nothing whatever to do with the US. It is the ugly Marx/Engels/Lenin preaching in practice.

    I would humbly suggest that you should examine the political reality of Cuba. That is that it is a communist dictatorship, with the current incumbent being Raul Castro Ruz. If you wish to check on that statement, ask any Cuban whether anyone in Cuba dare question his dictate? All those who bear the various political titles, whether it be President, Minister, Vice this or that, comply with that which Raul Castro Ruz dictates. Over 80% of the economy is controlled by his son-in-law. Both external and internal security services are controlled by his son. That W is the reality!

  • The debate between Carlyle Macduff and Nick is very interesting and important. It highlights the difference between those who see conditions on the ground in Cuba as they are (Carlyle) and those who see conditions as they would like them to be. The reality is that Obama did indeed openly admit that US policy for Cuba had failed and the time was ripe for a new approach. He also acknowledged that no further US concessions would be offered WITHOUT a reciprocal effort from Cuba towards economic and political reforms. Fidel made it clear no such reforms would be made. In this response Fidel rejected US overtures. Trump simply rescinded Obama’s offer and returned to pre-Obama Cuban policy. One other comment: US Cuban policy remains largely controlled by right-wing Florida politicians because they are the only Americans who care about Cuba enough to vote their preferences. Generally speaking, progressive groups around the US don’t include Cuban politics in their national platform.

  • Carlyle MacDuff, the US has a long history of meddling in foreign elections. Some successful, some not. Some where they have been caught and some where they have not, and some where they even openly admit they’ve intervened. 81 interventions between the years 1946-2000 according to one study.

    As the Cuban government has maintained “total control” it has been able to hold elections where the US was not able to meddle, though these does not qualify as democratic by western standards. Holding democratic elections would mean letting go of that control and at the same time making itself much more vulnerable to foreign interventions.

    Do you seriously believe that the US would not try to interfere in a Cuban election if it had the chance to do so? Both proven history and the mindset and methods of the current government would suggest strongly otherwise.

    And when it come to being aware of wishes: Do you think the US is unaware of the wishes of the Cuban people (and the rest of the world, except Israel) for the US to lift the embargo?

  • W, you pose a question. As a government in total control, the Castro regime could choose to hold a democratic election at any time. it has for example held one-party elections on many occasions without any foreign interference.

    Enthusiasm to berate the US is understandable, that country’s history in relation to Cuba has been as I described in ‘Cuba Lifting the Veil’. “a succession of political blunders of magnitude since the adoption of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823” That however does not ameliorate the denial by the Castro’s of democratic elections. it is not as if they were unaware of the wishes of the people of Cuba. They knew that full-well as described by Fidel Castro on March 16, 1959:

    “There can be no danger if we do what Cubans want, if we provide social practice and solve the substantial social problems of all Cubans of liberty, of respect for individual rights, of freedom of the press and thought, of democracy, of liberty to select their own government.”

    The denial of free and fair democratic elections is entrenched in the Castro written Constitution of Cuba. It has nothing whatever to do with the US.

    I trust that the above answers your question.

  • Greg, I disagree. The buck stops at Trump. He’s the one who lets Rubio be his chief advisor on Cuba and Venezuela, whose people Trump could care less about. Just like Ben Rhodes played a big role for Obama in the rapproachement with Cuba, but it was Obama who made the move. Trump is the problem, Rubio is small potatoes in comparison.

  • All of this talk about Trump is woefully misdirected. It is all about Marco Rubio and his henchmen. Everything Trump does toward Cuba came right out of Rubios mouth, rest assured of this. First a politician does what Rubio says, then he gets the votes.

  • If one looks at the regimes US supports and has supported contra the regimes US has and is opposing, one can easily see there is no correlation between freedom, democracy or human right and US policies towards a regime. It has only to do with compliance.

    Since compliance to US interests has a cost to the country and its citizens, the United States has to make sure any country understands that cost of non-compliance is even higher. After the Cuban embargo failed with its initial goal to cause an uprising and overthrow Castro, it now still serves as an example for what happens to a country not complying. And this combined with other policies, operations and interventions has been rather successful in keeping revolutions and pink tides in Latin America more or less under control. That’s why these kind of policies will continue also in the foreseeable future. But if you judge the embargo on the basis of what US says its for, then of course its a complete failure.

    By US’s own estimates Castro had a vast support among Cubans, and would have won any election. Why then was there none? Any democratic country has, when in an existential crisis caused by a foreign aggressor, always suspended elections and restricted freedom of speech simply in order to survive. Cuba was never given a chance to develop into an open democracy, whether it was Castro’s intention or not. If a country is to hold free and fair democratic elections it has to be able to guarantee that they are held without foreign interference.

    Carlyle MacDuff, since the revolution, has there been any chance for Cuba to hold an election where it could guarantee that there was no foreign interference? Do you think the US would not try to meddle?

    Obama’s change in policy was like a bully saying: “Kicking and hitting you in order to get your lunch money didn’t quite work, so i will try some less violent means of taking your lunch money instead” That of course is a welcomed change and a hope for the better. However its really nothing to be that grateful about nor does it constitute for real friendship. To think so requires a lot of arrogance from the part of the bully, especially since his ends had not changed for the better, only his means.

  • Those Australians huh……
    They get everywhere don’t they ?
    Bless ‘em.

  • Plenty of opportunity for you and I to disagree Nick! I look forward to It. The aunt referred to was one of three I have known in the family to top the ton. One, my late father’s uncle, when aged 98 was still playing two 9 hole rounds of golf per week on the links at Broughty Ferry, where when as a youngster of well over 80 he had been Provost. Mind you, he had the advantage of being more than a touch crusty! Never offered me a drink other than a cup of tea.
    When over seventy I took part in the World Master’s Games entering the under 60 age group – but only achieved a silver medal – damned Australians!
    Longevity is I think genetically influenced – making me fortunate in being able to hang around and point out the sins and errors of others!

  • One more thing Mr MacD….
    I am very pleased to learn of the longevity within your family.
    Good stuff. It bodes well.

  • Yes Mr MacD, I omitted the US policy of 1963. I was mentioning what Fidel Castro said in his ‘rambling’ response to President Obama’s Cuba speech which you were fortunate enough to be present at. Fidel did not mention the US policy of 1963. I think he was referring to the USA’ s support of Apartheid South Africa in the 1980s which was in a military advisory capacity and in a supply capacity via its proxy, Israel. At least that’s what I presume he was referring to.

    On the other matter, I think we have reached the crux. President Obama’s policy changes regarding Cuba were unilateral. They were reversed to a significant extent by trump.
    And Fidel Castro was not in favour of political change within Cuba.


  • I note that you omitted Nick to refer to the US arms embargo imposed in 1963 upon South Africa.

    South Africa has significance for me, because my aunt who immigrated there in the late twenties, served as an officer in the South African Air Force during the Second World War. In 1948 when Verwourd was elected, she left the country declaring that: “I will not live under the Nazis.” She obtained a transfer from her bank and moved to Southern Rhodesia. at that time having the highest educational standards for the black population in Africa, and regarded as the bread basket of the continent with a thriving economy. We all know what was done to that by Mugabe. My aunt remained there and died in Harare at age 102, in 2002.

    There is I think an assumption in your suggesting that Obama was admitting that US policies had failed, although as I have observed on may occasions, Irrespective of the declared intentions of the embargo, it was a self-evident failure as the Castros remained firmly entrenched.

    i never suggested that there was any form of bilateral agreement. What I said, was that the Castro regime doesn’t want any change.

  • Mr MacD, With the greatest of respect,
    President Obama’s policy changes were unilateral and an admission of the absurdity of previous U.S. policy from a reasonable man who was liberated from the over abiding lust for FLA Electoral College Votes.
    This was absolutely and categorically not any kind of bilateral agreement that Cuba reneged on. Now if you are stating that the goodly President Obama hoped to elicit a favourable reaction from the Cuban Government, then I would 100% agree. But in reality I think he was primarily ‘playing the long game’. He was admitting that U.S. policy had failed, that it looked absurd in the eyes of the whole world and hoped (with very good reason) that his reforms would provoke much needed change in Cuba some way down the road……
    And I for one, completely and totally agreed with him.
    I also recall that in Fidel’s ‘ramblings’ on the past he reminded President Obama of the USA’s military support of apartheid South Africa and compared it to Cuba’s military opposition to that same particularly unpleasant capitalist regime. I wager that this would have actually struck an uncomfortable chord with the Goodly President Obama.
    You will recall that it was at Nelson Mandela’s funeral that Barack first got chatty with Raul.

  • “we don’t need the empire to give us anything”. So Nick, that is not rejection?
    You no doubt noted that in Fidel Castro’s letter he cast doubts upon the merits of the Cuba tourism industry, and criticized Obama for talking about the descendants of Spanish and African forebears, without mention of the indigenous people. I have travelled Cuba from Baracoa to western tip of the Guanahacabibes peninsula and the Roncali Lighthouse, but have yet to meet a single indigenous person. Yes, here and there I have seen prominent bridges of the nose (Fidel himself for example), but of the Taino, not a one.
    i would be the first to agree that Fidel’s letter was like his speeches, somewhat illogical and rambling addressing the past with no concern for the future. But Nick you choose to ignore the speech of the 29th March given by Bruno Rodriguez as the Cuban Foreign Minister, in which he stated “there will be no reciprocation.” Rodriguez would not say that without the approval of Raul Castro.
    That was a decision made by the Cuban regime, long prior to Trump taking office. Obama opened the door and the Castros chose to close it, missing opportunity.
    Trump I agree, has taken successive steps to strangle Cuba, that is not debatable.

  • The Obama administration made it clear that “improved human rights conditions, including freedom of expression and assembly”, remain a central element of U.S. policy in normalizing U.S.–Cuban relations.

    He tried to press Castro but it’s a communist totalitarian regime they have absolutely no interest.
    Raul Castro knows what happened in Eastern Europe they fell like dominos.

  • Mr MacD,
    I think your facts, on this occasion, fall into the realm of ‘alternative facts’.
    As I pointed out, no-one by the name of Castro rejected any of President Obama’s policies which were aimed at a ‘thaw’.
    The policies that were rejected and then reversed, were rejected and reversed by trump. This was not because he gives a single damn about Cuba, but because he does have an interest in FLA Electoral College Votes later this year.
    Sycophancy and Fact are two entirely different things. Facts and opinions are also entirely different things. The great and incomparable Mark Twain is alleged to have said ‘Never let the truth get in the way of a good story’.
    The problem is that nobody can state where and when he said it. Which perhaps reinforces the essential point of the phrase. The phrase is perhaps more accurately attributed to the also incomparable St Augustine…….
    Either way Mr MacD, please describe one single aspect of President Obama’s policy change that was rejected and then reversed by either Fidel or Raul Castro ???

    Fact: President Obama changed U.S. policy toward Cuba. These changes were unilateral. Certain key aspects of these changes were rejected and reversed by trump.

  • If as you suggest Nick, history will demonstrate that it was Trump not Fidel Castro who rejected the overtures made by Obama, it will be contrary to reality. I heard and saw Obama loud and clear when he opened the door in his speech at the Alicia Alonso Theatre on March 21 and in the presence of Raul Castro flanked by Diaz-Canel and Bruno Rodriguez, sitting central on the balcony. I read the letter of rejection of March 28, entitled:The Man Obama” purported to have come from the pen of Fidel Castro and published both in Granma and on Cuban TV, and I heard Bruno Rodriguez on March 29 saying that there would be no reciprocation. Donald Trump was nowhere in sight, it all happened ten months prior to him becoming President. All that is factual. It was the Castro regime itself that rejected the Obama overture! That is the actual history! The sycophants may choose to whitewash the Castro’s, but that will wash off!

  • Lynn Cruz understands the situation better than any Cuban on the island of absolute state controlled media than I have ever run into.
    There simply isn’t enough of them.

  • Mr MacD,
    The ‘endeavour’ (as you call it) of President Obama was not a proposal which required any acceptance or rejection from Cuba. It was an acknowledgement of the absurdity of previous US policy. He hoped that it would pave the road toward better relations between USA and Cuba and bring about changes within Cuba.
    You are correct to say that Fidel basically response was not positive. He basically said that no U.S. President has the right to tell us what to do or words to that effect.
    History will always show that it was in fact, trump who rejected President Obama’s endeavour by returning to the aforementioned absurdity.
    You are quite correct to say that Cubans are caught in the middle. But things may well have been on a different path we’re it not for trump’s rejection (he made a point of rejecting pretty much every policy of his infinitely more intelligent and sensible predecessor). We’re it not for this, things in Cuba may not have become dramatically different but may well have been going in a slightly different direction.

  • The U.S policy toward Cuba is aimed at securing Florida electoral college votes. Nothing more – Nothing less.
    Rubio, and various other U.S. politicians of Cuban heritage all seem to be on the right to very right wing of the U.S. political spectrum. Hmmmm…. curious.
    President Obama tried to break with tradition and recognised the USA’s hypocritical policy toward Cuba for what it was: hypocritical.
    He was therefore hugely popular in Cuba. Trump is regarded by the vast majority in Cuba as an idiot. As was George W Bush. Perhaps a minority of Cubans in Cuba would favour Trump and his policies but only a small minority (having said that he has only ever had minority support in the USA, albeit a larger minority).
    Just a small clarification: Brothers to the Rescue planes were not actually shot down whilst trying to rescue rafters. They had repeatedly violated Cuban airspace to drop propaganda leaflets. Both Cuban and U.S. Authorities had repeatedly warned José Basulto, the leader of this group that they were risking being shot down and that all countries have the right to defend their airspace (the planes were in international airspace at the actual point of shooting). A needless loss of life which should have been avoided.
    Basulto was in the plane that survived the incident.
    He was formerly a CIA trained operative who has openly boasted about the ‘missions’ he has carried out – he is regarded as a terrorist by many.
    He was certainly an associate of known terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles.
    Basulto had previously fired randomly from a boat at what is now called the Sierra Maestra Hotel in Havana.
    He certainly wasn’t trying to rescue anyone on that occasion and neither does it sound like a very brotherly thing to be doing.

  • It is obvious Lynn Cruz that despite the declared intentions of the embargo (defined in the US Cuban Democracy Act), the embargo has failed in those purposes. For fifty-nine years the people of Cuba have paid the price for the Castros refusing to move aside and permit democratic multi-party elections freedom of speech and human rights as declared in the UN Charter.
    Just as the Castros have been stuck in their ideological rut, the US has failed to understand that as you indicate, “this only serves as an excuse for our government” (ie: the Castros). Additionally, it has enabled the Castro regime to annually persuade the UN to go through the farce of the 189 – 2 vote in favour of lifting the embargo ( something like 18 years?). But it enables pudgy Bruno to enjoy a couple of good dinners and wear a new tailor made suit to accommodate the expanding girth.
    But, with the exception of the endeavor of President Obama on March 21, 2016 – which was rejected by Fidel Castro only 7 days later, the US has lacked the imagination necessary to create change of policy. Cuba under the communist Castro regime on the other hand, doesn’t actually want change. its purpose is the retention of power and control.
    it is the old, old story of an irresistible force pushing against an immovable object – the problem being that the people of Cuba are trapped in between the two.

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