High-Level US-Cuba Meeting Ends



By Fernando Ravsberg*

HAVANA TIMES — Roberta Jacobson and Josefina Vidal, diplomats from the United States and Cuba, respectively, decided to begin talks a day earlier than planned. After more than fifty years of confrontation, they decided to have dinner together at a private residence. Thus began the “public” phase of negotiations between Washington and Havana that were conducted in the utmost secrecy for 2 years.

Dozens of journalists from around the world were seen the next day when talks about migratory issues began at Havana’s International Convention Center. No significant changes were seen there: Havana continues to demand an end to the Cuban Adjustment Act and Washington insists it will continue to apply it. A Cuban diplomat summarized the situation saying: “we agree on what our disagreements are.”

Josefina Vidal, Director General for the US in Cuba’s Foreign Ministry. Photo: Raquel Perez Díaz
Josefina Vidal, Director General for US Affairs in Cuba’s Foreign Ministry. Photo: Raquel Perez Díaz

The Cuban Adjustment Act grants permanent residency to all Cubans who arrive in the United States illegally. As Havana sees it, that legislation encourages illegal and dangerous forms of immigration based on human trafficking networks. Last year, nearly 25 thousand Cubans entered the United States through the Mexican and Canadian borders, after going through dozens of other countries in the hands of criminal bands. Other Cubans attempt to reach the United States using speedboats leaving from Florida or Cancun.

US delegates stated the law would remain in place but didn’t explain why they would preserve a piece of legislation that was conceived to aid those suffering political persecution and that today, in 90% of cases, benefits people seeking mere economic improvement. It may be that they fear the reaction of Cuban-Americans or a sudden rise in immigration, an issue that US officials did mention.

Following the agreement between the two presidents, the gathering aimed at re-establishing diplomatic relations was chiefly technical in nature. The two delegations, however, underscored that these would be based on the Vienna Convention. A Cuban diplomat told Publico that the US embassy should not intervene in Cuba’s domestic affairs, as the US Interests Section has done to date. Getting there won’t be easy: in Latin America, people say there are no coups in Washington because there is no US embassy there.

US Secretary for Latin America Roberto Jacobson. Photo: Raquel Perez Díaz
Roberta Jacobson, US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affaris.  Photo: Raquel Perez Díaz

Different areas of cooperation, such as air safety, mutual coordination in the event of natural disasters, response to oil spills, cooperation in health initiatives for epidemics and the definition of marine borders in the Gulf of Mexico were ratified. Delegates also assessed the possibility of working jointly in the struggle against drug trafficking, as the island lies on the route between drug producers and the largest consumer in the hemisphere. This is an area in which Cuba has been offering aid for over a decade and that Washington had refused to consider until now.

The issue of human rights stirred up the most controversy. In a communiqué, the US delegation affirmed that they would “pressure” the Cuban government to improve its record in terms of freedom of expression and association. Josefina Vidal, however, insisted that those words were never used and that each delegation expressed their concerns regarding human rights and democracy in the other country. A Cuban official said that they would speak of human rights in Cuba but also about police brutality in the United States, the repression of demonstrations and the murder of African Americans by the police. At any rate, a bilateral commission to study the issue more in depth is to be set up.

Important issues such as the lifting of the embargo (which has been in place for more than fifty years and has cost Cuba billions of dollars) and the status of properties confiscated from US citizens and companies remain to be discussed. Cuba is still not authorized to export its products to the US or use its currency in transactions with third countries and is still on the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, facing all of the financial persecution this entails. The road to the “normalization” of bilateral relations is going to be very long and these are only the first steps.
(*) Visit the website of Fernando Ravsberg.

33 thoughts on “High-Level US-Cuba Meeting Ends

  • Nobody is really communist. It is just a silly dream, a worthless utopia that ends up killing millions of people.

  • You mean where would Canada be if it had been taken over by an armed Communist revolution which stole all private property and ruined the economy? We would be screwed like Cuba, and we would not be having this conversation, my friend.

  • Think about this :::
    USA :::
    average adult wealth $ 325,000.00
    medium adult wealth $ 53,400.00
    This disparity ratio is similar to Cuba before the revolution.

  • Not much choice water front property left in the USA – Si !!! Cuba is now building water front condos for sale to non Cubans = Si !!!

  • Yas – but where would Canada be if we could not sell to the USA ???

  • Yes, in the US and by your comment, in Canada as well, there are people who despite their best efforts, fail to earn a living wage. But here is the difference and it is significant. The system in Cuba is DESIGNED to fail. No system that pays a neurosurgeon 35 cuc per month and prices beef at 17 cuc per pound is set up for success. I hope you can understand that.

  • The area of Cuba is 109,884 square kilometers.

    USA is 9,857,306 square kilometers. That’s 98 times larger than Cuba. The USA has far more undeveloped land than Cuba does.

    Canada is 9,984, 670 square kilometers That’s 99 times bigger than Cuba. Canada has far more undeveloped land than Cuba does.

    By that metric, the USA has far more potential.

    Cuba’s external debt is $22 billion, at 34% of GDP, and $1780 per capita.

    USA’s debt is $18 trillion, 106% of GDP, and $58,437 per capita.

    By that metric, the USA is far more in debt than Cuba is. No doubt, China sees potential profits in Cuba. Of course, China holds about one third of all US debt, so they can see the potential there too.

  • You seem able to afford multiple trips to Cuba each year, so I don’t think you are failing to enjoy your human rights.

    Consider the average income in Cuba, at $20 per month, or $240 per year. As a percentage of the Per Capita GDP, which is $10,200 in Cuba, the average Cuban earns a mere 2.3% of the Per Capital GDP.

    In other words, the average Cuban worker gets to keep 2.3% of her contribution to the national economy.

    In Canada, the Per Capita GDP is $43,000. A Canadian worker earning minimum wage (not the average income, but the so-called “working poor” in Canada) earns $22,000 per year ( at $11/hr x hours/wk x 50 wks per year).

    As a percentage of Per Capital GDP, the minimum wage worker in Canada earns 51% of their contribution to the national economy.

    The poor in Canada are better off than the average income population in Cuba.

  • I believe the USA is more broke than Cuba. T%o keep the US government going they must borrow money from China. Cuba owns the best piece of undeveloper real estate in the world and it is worth trillion of dollars. China see this for sure !!!

  • Well if that is a human right the USA is sure a failure on that point as is Canada

  • That comment simply is untrue. Not a day goes by when I am in Cuba when a Cuban does not say to me that they wish they could work an honest day’s labor and earn a living wage doing it. That, Gordon Robinson, is a human right.

  • Zionists are using Cuba?


  • well said John

  • Okay Mariamante,
    It’s way past time to take your paranoid-schizophrenic meds .
    The website is as crazy as they come ..Illuminati etc .
    Imperialism, as real and brutal as it is, doesn’t need your crazy conspiracy theories to be as dangerous to the world as it is .

  • There are Communists in Cuba but Cuba is not communist.
    Shoot your television

  • China has a part free-enterprise capitalist and part state-capitalist economy.
    It is not socialist.
    It is not communist.
    It has never been socialist .
    It has never been communist.
    Socialism is an economic system run by the workers in a democratic, bottom-up fashion .
    China has never had such a system.
    Neither free-enterprise capitalism nor state capitalism can coexist with socialism .
    Years ago U.S. Chief Justice Brandeis put it this way:
    You can have either free-enterprise capitalism or you can have democracy.
    You cannot have both .
    This is because capitalism whether state form or free enterprise form is totalitarian and run from the top down.
    A socialist economy must by definition be run from the bottom up in a majority rule/democratic fashion.
    These two systems are antithetical to each other .
    They are mutually exclusive.
    A democracy cannot be a little totalitarian without it being a threat to the existence of that democracy .
    neither can a totalitarian system be a little democratic without a threat to its existence .

  • Capitalism is a very brutal form of totalitarianism -it impoverishes half the world which has no say in how capitalism will operate and how the profits will be shared.
    This is the “democracy” the Empire wishes to enforce upon Cuba as it has in well over 50 other countries in the past 100 years.
    Freedom of the press????
    When some five mega-corporations own some 95% of the U.S. media and these are the very wealthy, do you really think you will get anything but a pro-capitalist, pro-imperial viewpoint right across that corporate media ?
    Of course not and not anymore than you’ll get a pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist slant in Granma and the rest of the government controlled media in Cuba.
    The point is not to equate the two systems in their one-sided presentations but to say who the hell is the U.S. and this corporate media to tell any other country to be more democratic with an independent media ?
    As I will constantly point out, U.S. society is based on totalitarian beliefs and practice to wit: capitalism : your boss is your dictator just as Cuban government officials have the same power over Cuban workers.
    The U.S. is one of the most religious nations in the world w some 80% believers ( compared to 17% in France, 19% in Italy , less in Britain) . You cannot question the Bible , the (alleged) word of God and in Christianity anyway, the penalty for disbelief is eternal fire . You are not allowed to even THINK the wrong way which is thought crime also punishable by eternal Hell. As Hitchens put it : ”
    A “celestial North Korea”except that in North Korea you can” fucking die” and it’s done with. Theism : it’s one mean bitch of a totalitarian system.
    Thirdly, the U.S. government is the best money can buy or rather, more plainly stated, it’s an oligarchy with all candidates for major office pre-selected by the people with the big bucks . Its an unelected dictatorship of money which vetoes any move toward change with its money.
    All this to say: any and all talk by the U.S. side about having democratization of Cuba as a demand or even polite request of any sort is blatantly and insultingly hypocritical .
    Lastly: the past 100 years of U.S. foreign policy has been a century of suppressing democracy , installing dictatorships , crushing human rights movements when they threatened U.S .imperialism ( enforcement of free-enterprise capitalism, manipulating the foreign press and electorates to affect elections overseas. and so on . To NOW say that Cuba is the one exception to this factual imperial U.S. foreign policy history and that democracy and human rights are what we’re all about , is to deny history and to put in its place self-serving fairy tales.
    It’s not like this hasn’t been discussed here .
    Moses himself came up with only Myanmar (Burma) as the one country where (he claimed) the U.S. had democratic INTENTIONS ( his word) .
    So I ask: Given the volumes of evidence that point to the contrary , where is the historic and precedential evidence supporting the claim that the (GO) U.S.is NOW all about wanting democracy ?
    Why are allegedly serious news sources reporting this without laughing ?
    Has everyone forgotten history ?

  • so does my country, but just imagine bush as president for 50+ years its no different but people should have a choice of who should lead them

  • The natives of Northamerica are still isolated on inland islands,reserves, not sure what that means but they were given treaty rights and monthly war reperations and still live on communes under a spiritual guides CHIEFS.Recently morally corrupt governments have forced them to protest with hunger strikes as they break the treaties. Many natives are raped and murdered sumarilly .Knights of the Templar and Demonocracy have not served them well there.They are not allowed to vote.
    The natives of Cuba rose up in the Revolution under God and their spiritual leaders,their fight was a just one and a different kind of freedom prevailed. Following this statement I may have to move to Sochi Russia, they seem to be in control there and the northamerican terrorists would be hard pressed to assassinate me there.That said the point is the truth is not always what it seems , so negotiate for treaty rights and reperations.
    In any disscussions a currency valuation is of utmost importance since honest trading partners should base themselves on their per capita debt not percapita nukes, negotiating at end of a gun barrell is what it is.FRUITLESS
    As you look across from the table know this you are facing fear and greed.The trading markets work and can not be denied , where else can you put all the wheath coming to Cubas shores, so like China markets show, Socailism can
    coexist , I have experienced this and understand the value it holds for the Global
    economies.YOU ARE DEBT FREE and have much value in these instruments
    like Saudi Kings.
    It is the right of the Cuban people to play hard ball and ironically it is a national sport and common ground.
    Think about it.
    Thank you

  • Talk of brutal, I wonder why there are more prisons in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world and there are more prisoners incarcerated than anywhere in the world…a large majority on minor offences because the prisons are a private business…all for profit prisons.

  • Cuba is broke and so are 95% of the Americans living from paycheck to paycheck and too blinded by being hijacked by the neocons and corporate myopia.
    It is a bloody shame to borrow money from China to wage illegal wars on people with lies and innuendo.
    Start with closing Guantanamo Bay,having kept innocent people without charges and against any international laws.
    Assets of the Bush family…now there is a joke in favour of the most shady of them all.
    Stuck in 1958, but happy and cheerful with 95% literacy rate, free education, free medical and more doctors helping others per capita than any other country. People in the U.S. are at the mercy of the crooked system that bankrupts you if you get ill or have baby whilst working.

    Two sides to a coin, my friend. Take the blinkers off.

  • Huh, what?

  • I am just back from My 87th research trip to Cuba. Not once has a Cuban complainded about their human rights. Why is the U.S. so concerned ?
    Gordon Robinson Port Alberni B.C.
    [email protected]

  • At least they’re talking and trying to understand each other’s point of view. A start in the right direction! We could use that approach in many other countries.

  • Oh. I guess you believe the US government and stand behind them. Sad. Really. Great job upvoting yourself, though. You’re my hero.

  • Cuba is broke. After running through all the money they stole and “inherited” after murdering so many prominent citizens in cold blood, the Castros have empty pockets. Still we have at least a little sympathy for them, it was once legal here in Tampa to shoot yankees. Cuba could not be a more obvious economic failure, even the reds have finally figured that out, so naturally, the feeble-minded communists make insane demands. That’s not to say our diplomats are any great sages, with more money than wits, they are ever prone to give away the store. But we do wish to have Cuba become a destination instead of just an impediment to navigation that it has been all these years. Cuba must be willing to pay their debts, especially to those people we dried off of our beaches, pay for the emptying of their insane asylums and prisons onto our shores, pay for the assets stolen from the Bush family and other Americans. If they do, they can pay their just debts with American money. If they don’t, they will stay stuck in 1958 for a very long time.

  • regardless most of the world already has relations with Cuba and it hasn’t done anything, the same brutal corrupt dictator castro family for 50+ years

  • The people of Cuba have little access to this site….thankfully in this case. They won’t be able to read your craziness.

  • ….something the Castros know all about

  • Jacobson would probably suffer from Alzheimer if she were to be asked about human rights violations in Saudi Arabia or Israel.
    It is the standard decontextualization policy of the U.S….also known as talking from both sides of the mouth.

  • People of Cuba beware. This is all because the US is fighting with Russia and nothing more. The Zionists are using you as pawns. As an American, I wish we could have a good relationship with Cuba, but under these circumstances, it will be contrived.

  • A wonderful start. As with any journey … getting off on the right foot is all it takes …

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