HAVANA TIMES (dpa) — Cuban authorities said today they are awaiting the United States “answer” in the forthcoming negotiations to their demand to be taken off the US list of countries sponsoring terrorism, as a prerequisite for the restoration of bilateral diplomatic relations.
“We hope to receive answers,” said Gustavo Machin, the deputy head of the Cuban delegation, shortly before his trip to the United States for a new round of talks on Friday.
“It would be a contradiction” that his country resumed diplomatic relations with the United States while still on that list, said Machin.
Meanwhile, the United States wants to separate negotiations with the Cuban government to reopen embassies in Washington and Havana from the review process being carried out by the US State Department on whether to take Cuba off the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
“They are two separate procedures. We don’t link them, said State Department sources today who requested anonymity.
Machin noted another pending issue is the solution to the financial problems of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, which currently has no bank willing to handle its accounts because of the difficulties caused by the US embargo.
Back in 1982 the US government placed Cuba on its list of States which it considers sponsors of terrorism. Currently there are four countries on the list: Iran, Sudan, Syria and Cuba.
The list brings with it sanctions and trade restrictions. In the case of Cuba most of these had already existed for decades, since the US embargo was imposed in the early 1960s.
Although the Castro government has a long history of supporting insurgent movements in Latin America and Africa, in recent decades Cuba has distanced itself in practice from armed struggle.
Observers note Cuba’s current role as host of the peace process between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government as an argument to remove Cuba from the US list.
Human Rights Issues
Machin also said the Cuban side takes to Washington “proposals” to debate human rights, an issue that overshadowed the first negotiations between the two countries in mid-January in Havana.
The US delegation led by Under Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson argued then that they would continue pressuring Cuba over the lack of civil liberties on the island.
The Cuban negotiating team led by diplomat Josefina Vidal responded that her country is also concerned about human rights issues in the United States.
The Cuban government traditionally equates human rights to collective social progress as universal access to education and health, and rejects linking it to individual political rights such as freedom of speech and assembly.
The delegations of the United States and Cuba will meet Friday in Washington to continue the historic diplomatic negotiations opened in January in Havana.
Both countries unexpectedly announced in mid-December they would resume diplomatic relations after decades of hostility and ideological confrontation.
At the Washington encounter the goal is to draw up a roadmap leading to the reopening of embassies in the respective capitals.
Photo de portada: Harold Cesar Ferrer Perez