Is Cuba Ready to Negotiate with the USA?

Fernando Ravsberg*

Sevent percent of all Cubans were born under the US embargo.

HAVANA TIMES — The governments of Cuba and the United States have maintained a series of negotiations in different areas of common interest for a number of years now. The two countries refer to such talks as “technical” in nature, but they could well represent the preamble of deeper and more political negotiations.

The issues discussed till now are related to ecological disasters, immigration, rescue and salvage operations, aviation safety, postal services, seismology and inter-military relations at the Guantanamo Naval Base. Curiously, the United States has not wanted to include the fight against drug trafficking on the agenda.

Agreements that have had positive results have been reached in some of these areas. Talks surrounding aviation safety, for instance, allowed for satisfactory bilateral coordination during an incident involving a US light plane that crossed Cuban airspace and crashed in Jamaica in September.

The essential issues behind the conflict – the embargo, the nationalized US properties, the financing given Cuba’s opposition, human rights, the inclusion of Cuba in the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, those imprisoned in the two countries and the Guantanamo Base – continue to go unaddressed.

Cuba’s highest authorities have repeatedly told the United States they are willing to sit down and negotiate any issue Washington cares to lay on the table, provided talks are based on three basic principles: such conversations must be undertaken as equals, in acknowledgement of the sovereignty of States, without any meddling in the internal affairs of the other.

US diplomatic chief in Cuba surrounded by dissidents, who receive US 20 million in funding from Washington every year.

Cuban analysts insist that these principles “are set in Stone” and that they are recognized by the UN, adding that, on previous occasions, the United States found it hard to sit down and negotiate on equal footing with a small island in its “backyard” that has very few resources and a mere 11 million inhabitants.

What’s more, when Havana insists on talks “among equals”, it also means to say that, on such controversial issues as human rights, it will not only debate about Cuban dissidents but also about the situation in the United States, extra-judicial detentions, torture, selective murder and police violence.

Some previous attempts at a rapprochement failed because Cuba did not accept the demands made by the United States. At different points in history, the latter demanded the suspension of support for revolutionary movements in Latin America, the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Africa, the breaking of ties with the Soviet Union and a change in its political system as a condition for negotiations.

One of the most urgent issues the two countries face right now are the prison sentences of 3 Cuban agents in the United States and a US agent in Cuba. While Washington calls for the unconditional release of Alan Gross, Havana proposes a “humanitarian solution”: an exchange that will benefit the four detainees.

The White House insists Cuba ought to unilaterally release Alan Gross because his detention is the main obstacle to a bilateral rapprochement. In 2010, the United States even terminated all contracts with the island to pressure Havana, resuming talks 2 years later.

For the Cuban government, the release of its 3 agents – considered heroes on the island – is also a very sensitive issue that it would no doubt put on the agenda. It does not, however, appear to be an obstacle to negotiate other issues, if its counterpart requested this previously.

No one in Cuba knows for certain whether Obama will take any decisive steps in this connection in what remains of his term in office, but many believe there have never been better conditions for such a step – not even the Carter administration had a better opportunity when diplomatic headquarters were opened in the two countries and maritime and fishing agreements were signed.

During the Obama presidency, rhetoric in both countries was less aggressive and no tense situations arose.

During the Obama presidency, there have been no tense situations and the rhetoric in both countries has been less aggressive. Most émigrés, including important businesspeople, support a rapprochement, and The New York Times has recently published six editorials calling for a change in policy towards Cuba.

The main problem today may be the intensification of Cuba’s financial persecution, but that may not be a policy aimed at the island in particular, but rather a repercussion of being on the United States’ list of countries that sponsor terrorism, something which Obama could easily change.

In its most recent editorial, The New York Times notes how the old confrontation mechanisms become contradictory in today’s context. While maintaining a quick-visa program aimed at persuading Cuban medical doctors to leave their missions abroad, the US government publicly acknowledges the role that the island’s physicians are playing in Africa and even collaborates with them in the struggle against Ebola.

At the international level, all of Latin America and the United States’ European allies are pushing Washington to cease in its policy of hostility towards Cuba. Regional governments included the island in the Summit of the Americas, despite Washington’s protests, while Brussels negotiates an agreement with Havana.

Cuban politicians consulted prefer not to speak on the basis of speculation and avoid addressing the issue, but they appear to have certain expectations, as though they were convinced that the ball is in their counterparts’ court.

The average Cuban, however, does not seem that hopeful. It wouldn’t be the first time negotiations begin and meet with frustration after the initial steps. What’s more, nearly everyone has in some way become accustomed to living this way: 70 percent of Cubans have lived under the embargo since the day they were born.

(*) Visit the webpage of Fernando Ravsberg.

37 thoughts on “Is Cuba Ready to Negotiate with the USA?

  • So it seems commenter Rich Haney has written a book:

    Celia Sanchez: The Legend of Cuba’s Revolutionary Heart

    From what I can tell from the promo blurb and the one customer review, Haney advances several novel theories about Sanchez & her role in the Cuban Revolution. As the reviewer wrote:

    “Despite the circumstance that almost all the data cited is inaccurate or even false it seems this is the only book length English language biography of Celia Sanchez Manduley, and thus of interest.”

    While I may not agree with your biases, and I may dispute some of your facts, I do intend to read your book and glean from it what verifiable facts are presented. At the very least, it promises to be an adventurous story.

  • Sweig’s alleged “objectivity” is thoroughly discredited by the fact that in the acknowledgements to her book on the Cuban Revolution she thanked the Cuban intelligence agents Josefina Vidal and Jose Gomex Abad. These two Cuban agents had worked with Sweig in Havana, directing her to the information they wanted her to use.

    Vidal was expelled from the U.S. in 2003 for espionage, following the arrest of the Cuba spy, Ana Montes. At the time she served as a “diplomat” in New York at Cuba’s mission to the U.N. Abad was one of the main conspirators in the 1962 plot to bomb Macy’s department store.

    An “objective” historian would not thank two Cuban intelligence agents for their help in writing her book.

  • ” I am viscerally pro-democracy and not pro-Castro but I think his revolution says a lot more about the U. S. than about Cuba”. In other words, you are more anti-US than you are pro-Castro. OK, but this simply means that you are more willing to overlook UMAP camps and pre-criminal laws in Cuba as long as the Castros remain poster boys for the anti-US resistance movement. Likewise, these democratically-elected leftist presidents take advantage of the iconic potency that Castro’s anti-establishment present to give credibility to their own progressive movements. But people like my wife, who actually lived under Castro tyranny with no other perspective or agenda other what it was like to live with shortages, crumbling infrastructure, declining education and health care and the lack of personal freedoms are not fooled by Castro’s revolutionary imagery. She opposes the dictatorship and also opposes the pre-revolution Batista and Mafia-ruled false democracy that dominated Cuba. What she wants, as do a majority of CUBANS is a free and independent Cuba. Free of Castro and US dominance.

  • Moses, anti-Castro zealots who have, for the most part, controlled the Cuban narrative in the U. S. since 1959 pretend that the Batista-Mafia-U.S. dominance of Cuba in the 1950s was exactly what the majority of Cubans on the island wanted and needed. That is a lie. Were all the Castro worshipers from Nelson Mandela to many of the greatest Latin American authors (Marquez, etc.) stupid? Are all those Castro worshipers democratically elected Presidents of Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia, etc., etc., stupid? Are the only smart people in this world the ones who have reason to hate Castro the most, such as the Batistianos, the Mafia and greedy foreign businessmen. I am viscerally pro-democracy and not pro-Castro but I think his revolution says a lot more about the U. S. than about Cuba because it chased the Batistianos, the Mafisoi, and those businessmen off the island, back to the U. S. from whence they came. If that is not so, tell your readers why it is not so.

  • Oh Gordon, get real!

  • It is the people of Cuba who suffer the consequences of the Castro family regime. The Cuban Revolution was not declared to be communist until following the event.
    Fifty five years of dreary existence have instllled a deep feeling of resignation by some and an even deeper desire to get out of Cuba by many.
    The three Cuban airlines are all controlled by Gaviota SA, the pilots are all military and tthe airports are similarly controlled by GAESA. These entities are owned and controlled by the military not by the government. For fifty five years Raul Castro Ruz has controlled the military – who needs additional planes?
    Although it appears fashionable for US citizens using these pages to criticize US Government actions, it is wrong to blame the US for the sins, errors, ommissions and ouright incompetence of tthe Castro family regime and the puppet government. It is not the embargo that prevents Cuba from growing sufficient tomatoes, potatoes, coffee or from producing sufficient toilet paper. it is not the embargo that strictly limits the importation through travel of clothes for resale by indiviiduals.
    It is the regime which makes all foreign purchases for the state monopoly shops (most operated by TRD part of Gaviota SA).
    My reasons for opposing the embargo have been that it is the greatest political support for the Castro familoy regime, being used as the reason for all the regimes deficiencies. Just watch any of the state TV stations. Just watch Randy Alonso Falcon and the much watched nightly “Mesa Redondo” described as being an international program – which means that it comprises a bunch of regime hacks discussing international matters, rather than discussion by international sources.

  • Rich, you have quite a romanticized view of Fidel and his passing. Yes, there will be sadness for some, but it will not be universal. Fidel’s ultimate demise will send Cubans to the streets with tears AND cheers. As a yuma, you and I have the freedom to idolize or criticize as we please. In Cuba, Fidel’s critics are silent under penalty of law but you should not assume they don’t exist. When he has gone on to that special Hell reserved for dictators, his critics in Cuba will “come out of the woodwork”. Let’s wait and see shall we?

  • And, Griffin, unlike the Batistianos and Mafiosi, Fidel never had getaway airplanes, boats, or ships ready to flee the island just in case a powerful force was attacking. In the past 55 years many of those “getaway” exiles in Miami and Union City have made sure to tell Americans what a coward Fidel was/is. That, like most other Cuban propaganda, is not exactly the truth, as you must know. I am not a Fidel Castro fan but I am a huge democracy fan and that is why I believe the Cuban Revolution says a lot more about the U. S. than it says about Cuba.

  • There will be sadness on the island and throughout Latin America when Fidel Castros passes, but “jubilation,” as you said in Miami. That dichotomy is something that, I hope, the U. S. democracy will one day once again be strong enough to reflect on sanely.

  • Hi Rich, I am catching up with some of the views expressed on these pages. But just so you know, my home including my wife and our dog, are in Cuba and I spend most of my time there. In consequence of being unable to access Internet – we don’t live in Habana, my contributions to these pages are intermittant, but they are based on the reality of life in Cuba, not upon what professional authors have written. As I am related through marriage to 68 Cubans and as I walk the streets daily. converse with those patiently waiting for up to forty minutes at the empresa to buy their 200 gram loaves for 5 pesos each, I am well aware of their views.
    My knowledge of the history of the revolution is based predominently upon the experiences of Cubans who are now in their seventies and eighties. When looking at the balcony of the city hall in Santiago de Cuba from which Fidel Castro Ruz made his victory speech on January 2nd 1959, I tthought about what he said;
    “i do not seek power and I will not accept it”
    Within a month he said:
    “Revolution first, elections later.”
    That was prior to actually becoming a member of the Communist Party.
    As I have discussed witth many Cubans, Revolution has historically been for tthe liberation of the people – it was in England with Cromwell, it was in France, it was in the US “Taxation without representation is tyranny”
    In the case of Cuba it has been for control and imposition upon the peopole of a one party state. Many Cubans now recognize that – and it is smouldering.
    The Castros extoll the virtues of the educational and medical systems. Cubans are amazed when told that all the Western European countries and my own country of Canada have social medical programs starting with the UK in 1948 and costing I may add about 10-11% of GDP as compared with the US at 17.8% of GDP. But, they now wonder why they need a high standard of education to pedal a bici-taxi!
    Do the academic authors tell you that?

  • Please share with us the insights you picked up from the girls on the Malecon.

  • I have seen the interviews with Murrow, Sullivan and Walters. Castro was a consummate actor. He knew what to say to the US public. He also knew how to charm the pants off of Walters (figuratively, I mean).

  • I don’t assume to know what goes on in Posada Carriles head, but nobody believes he will ever gain political power in Cuba. So to clarify, the Batistianos are dead or dying.

  • Rich,

    I appreciate your detailed responses. I have read over 40 books about Cuba, most of them fiction by some of the great Cuban writers, everybody from Carpentier to Gutierrez. A few histories and biographies as well. I know a far bit about the Cuban revolution, and I am continuing to learn more.

    What I have learned is that Fidel was a committed Marxist long before the Revolution chased Batista from power. He didn’t “turn commie” because the US snubbed him in April 1959. He allied Cuba with the USSR because he needed a strong ally at his back to keep the US at bay. He did not want to become a puppet of the Russians, and often bumped heads with them, but he also found useful methods for extending and cementing political control from his Soviet mentors.

    I will try to find more about Celia Sanchez. Of course, I have heard of her & her important role as a close confident of Fidel’s, but the information is usually brief and not too detailed. Fidel trusted her as a loyal aid because he knew she posed no threat to his designs on power.

    I am critical of the Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro. That does not mean I am a supporter of the Batista dictatorship or of US interference in Cuba. I reject that false dichotomy imposed by many of the Castro apologists who write and comment here.

  • You didn’t address the fact that on February 1959, Fidel announced that the elections he had promised would be postponed for two years. He would not have then gone to the US to tell Eisenhower he was going to hold elections in 6 months. That makes no sense.

    Certainly, Fidel & Celia were determined to defend their revolution against the inevitable US intervention. I doubt very much that Fidel had any doubts about US attitudes toward his project when he arrived in the US in April. He planned all along to lead the Revolution in a Marxist socialist direction & he knew the US would never accept this. He needed time to keep the US at bay, while drawing the USSR in as a counterweight. It was a strategy he executed brilliantly.

    As for the South American politicians you admire, even if I disagree with their political perspectives, Bachelet & Rousseff have my respect for the struggles they have gone through. Cristina Fernandez is nothing but a corrupt pseudo-leftist oligarch. She is ruining the economy of Argentina.

  • Really? By whom, Cuba or the US?

  • Bardach, Sweig, Stephens, and Kornbluh are objective experts regarding Cuba. Celia was far more pragmatic than her soul-mate, the impulsive Fidel. Yes, Fidel sent that nuclear-fueled letter to Khrushchev; yes, Fidel defied Khrushchev’s direct orders and thus, during the height of the Missile Crisis, the spy plane piloted by Rudy Anderson, was indeed shot down; and, yes, the most famous note or letter Fidel ever wrote was the anti-U. S. diatribe to Celia after a Batista airplane, supplied by the U. S., bombed the home of a peasant that Fidel said had nothing at all to do with the Revolutionary War. In his less impulsive moments, Fidel repeatedly over the decades campaigned for normal relations with the U. S. and, at times, made headway with Democratic Presidents Kennedy, Carter, Clinton, and Obama but never, of course, with the Batistiano-aligned Bush dynasty or Batistiano-controlled U. S. Congress. Bardach, Sweig, Stephens, and Kornbluh — in books and online — have documents those facts endlessly. Dismissing my facts is fine but how in the world do you have the temerity to dismiss the incredible facts readily provided by great journalists such as Bardach, Sweig, Stephens, and Kornblug? Are they dismissed simply because…alas!…they know and report unbiased, true facts about Cuba?

  • Griffin, where we disagree remains an item you ignore. In 1959 the prime decision-maker in Cuba was Celia Sanchez, who had — by all accounts — the 100% backing of Fidel. While Fidel in 1959 did indeed mention two years as the optimum time for a democratic election, Celia Sanchez was planning for a fall of 1959 election because, as she told Marta Rojas, “We will never have more support on the island than we have during this first year.” Yes, I know that the right-wing viciousness regarding Cuba by Nixon, the Dulles brothers, Posada, etc., beginning in 1959 has been approved even by those who so rightfully criticize Nixon, the Dulles brothers, Posada, etc., for their other major indiscretions. That is what, even in a democracy, unchecked propaganda can achieve. On YouTube there is a video clip in which Fidel, while in New York, spoke off-the-cuff about democracy and it can be accessed on YouTube by a “Fidel Castro speaking English” search. Also, his interviews with Ed Sullivan in January of 1959 and with Edward R. Murrow shortly thereafter are worth reviewing, as are his two interviews by his friend Barbara Walters. Sullivan, Murrow, Walters, etc., had no revenge, economic or political motives when they conducted those interviews. I don’t believe the same can be said for the vast cottage industry of anti-Catroism that has pervaded the post-Batista era in the U. S.

  • Again, Griffin, you overlook a basic fact. Celia Sanchez, after the Nixon double-cross in April of 1959, was the decision-maker in Cuba and she hunkered down to defend Revolutionary Cuba by whatever means she could muster. She decided the democratic election she had planned would not be necessary after Nixon assured her and Fidel that the U. S., the Mafia, and the Cuban exiles would do all in their considerable power to re-capture the island. Yes, in both Cuba and the U. S. — as indicated by his wild reception in the U. S. in April of 1959 — Fidel Castro was wildly popular. It has been estimated that 95% of the Cubans would have voted overwhelmingly for him in a democratic election if it had been held in the fall of 1959. Apparently Nixon and others realized that too. I believe to this day that at least 70% of Cubans on the island would support Fidel against any anti-revolutionary or Cuban exile. The fact that anti-revolutionaries and a few second generational Cuban-Americans still dictate the Cuban narrative in the U. S. is not supported by the Cubans I met on the island nor by the yearly UN vote nor by the array of Fidel worshipers who keep getting democratically elected as Presidents throughout Latin America, including the worshipful Dilma Rousseff who has just been re-elected President of Brazil, the Latin American superpower. The two other lady Presidents who worship Fidel — Michelle Bachelet in Chile and Cristina Fernandez in Argentina are also examples.. Of course, Americans are told that all those Fidel-loving Latin American Presidents are stupid Commies and so are all those nations who vote in unanimity in the UN against America’s Cuban policy. Anti-revolutionary propaganda blared by Batistianos chased off the island decades ago, I believe, reflects badly on the U. S. democracy, which is and always has been my first love and primary concern.

  • Griffin, you state that “the Batistianos are all dead and gone.” First generation Batistianos like Luis Posada Carriles are still alive and living freely in Miami. A key Batista minister, Rafael Diaz-Balart, died, reportedly as a billionaire, in South Florida, but two of his sons — Lincoln and Mario — have been elected to the U. S. Congress from Miami; another Diaz-Balart son is a very rich banker; and another Diaz-Balart son, Jose, is now a news anchor at Telemundo and NBC and he will tell you all day long about how great the first generation of Batistianos were in Cuba and how great the second generation of Batistianos are in the U. S. As for myself, a democracy lover, I disagree with Posada and the Diaz-Balarts and, I believe, even since 1959, such disagreements are still allowed in the U. S. although great journalists — such as Emilio Milian (car-bombed in Miami) and Jim DeFede (fired by the Miami Herald) — might disagree with me on that score.

  • Mr. Griffin, you are welcome to your opinion but not your facts. The embargo that solidified the embargo dates back to 1962 and not 1960 although the U. S. in 1960 had begun to hurt the island’s sugar dependency, etc. If you check Peter Kornbluh’s books or his National Archives website you will see the de-classified U. S. document that depicted the embargo in 1962 as having the purpose of starving/depriving the Cubans to entice them to overthrow/assassinate Castro. You are correct about Mikoyan’s visit to Cuba in which he signed the trade bill that began to replace some of the economic burdens being applied by the U. S. Cuban and Russian documents, as well as journalists like Carlos Franqui and Herbert L. Mathews, confirm that Mikoyan was enchanted when he notice that the petite lady, Celia, with a “baseball hat and ponytail,” was the one who “approved or disapproved” each item in the trade agreement before Fidel signed or didn’t sign them. I am quite aware that the Cuban exiles have had as a priority the denial of Celia Sanchez’s leading role in the revolution and in Revolutionary Cuba, perhaps because of machismo or a problem with vilifying the doctor’s daughter. Roberto Salas, the great photographer who worked intimately with Celia and Fidel, said in his book, “Celia made all the decisions for Cuba, the big ones and the small ones.” The best American biographer of Castro, Georgie Anne Geyer, confirmed that fact; Geyer said that Celia “over-ruled Fidel whenever and wherever she chose to do so.” And she chose a lot. Marta Rojas still lives and she was/is an intimate of Celia and Fidel and she too will today tell you, as she has told me, that, yes, “Celia made all the decisions for Cuba, the big ones and the small ones.” Carlos Franqui, the great journalist who was a key part of the revolution before turning against it, accompanied Celia, Fidel, and Camilo to the U. S. in April of 1959, a trip anti-revolutionaries like to ignore. Franqui wrote two superb and insightful books about the revolution, stating, “To not know the significance of Celia Sanchez’s dominance of Fidel is to not know the Cuban Revolution.” Mr. Griffin, I thus do no think you know much about the Cuban Revolution. And by the way, you mentioned Anatas Mikoyan factually. His trade mission to Cuba was most significant because of his fascination about learning that Celia Sanchez was the prime decision-maker on the island. Mikoyan nicknamed her “Spanish Eyes” and, at the airport, gave her his phone number and cable access in Moscow. She used both, including a cable regarding the possibility of nuclear weapons on the island. After the July-1953 Moncada disaster got Fidel a 15-year prison sentence, Celia still told her most fierce guerrilla companion, the teenage girl Tete Puebla, “Do or die, we are in it to win it.” They shocked the world by winning it. Tete Puebla, by the way, is today a General in the Cuban army. Go ask her. Linda Pressly, the top producer of documentaries for the BBC, called me five times regarding Celia Sanchez. Linda told me she was going to Cuba to finish her documentary about Celia Sanchez and asked me who I thought she should make sure to interview. I replied, “Tete Puebla and Marta Rojas, two brilliant women who are still very much alive and were intimates of both Celia and Fidel.” If you asked me the same question, Griffin, I would give you the same answer. I believe, for the sake of the U. S. democracy, truth about U.S.-Cuban relations is important, and that includes historic elements that affect the conundrum to this day. Pretending that the U. S. democracy was served by teaming with the Mafia to support the Batista dictatorship is a fallacy. Supporting revenge, economic or political motives of a self-serving few Cuban exiles, through two generations, also, in my opinion, has, for all these decades, hurt the U. S. democracy, not to mention the image of America around the world.

  • we dont require saudi arabia to hold free elections or release political prisoners and we dont require that of vietnam or china. just about every country in the world recognizes and trades with cuba except ours. time to get in tune with the world. there are many regimes worse than cuba’s with which we do business and allow travel.

  • Ann Louise Bardach and Julia Sweig are far from being objective observars of the Castro regime. For a second time you failed to address the Castro letter to the Soviet Premier urging nuclear strikes against the US. The historical record shows Fidel as a communist long before his visit to the US. Griffin’s comment below address Fidel’s real intentions behind his trip to the US. How do you defend the lack of democracy in Cuba today? If Fidel is (was) so well-liked, why has he refused to allow political opposition? Please give some thought to your response. Parroting the Castro propaganda has failed Castro sycophants for 55 years and will fail you in this thread.

  • I have lived in Cuba and have a Cuban family. As a result, while I realize there will be much sadness at his passing, there will also be jubilation. In the confederate south of the US 150 years ago when slave-holding plantation owners died, it is well-recorded that many of the slaves they owned were mournful. That is not too say that these slaves were pleased with slavery. Cubans want to be free, including free of US domination as you suggest. A post-Castro Cuba need not mean a return to pre-revolution Cuba. Getting rid of the Castros frees Cuba to decide for themselves what kind of country they wish to build. I believe Cubans are anxious to be free, including the freedom to criticize Fidel if that is what they choose to do.

  • You stated that only a minority of Cuba exiles years for a return of the Batista years. A very, very small minority. In fact, if you can find even one Cuban exile alive today who supports that, please quote them here. Cuban exiles want a free, democratic and independent Cuba. Not one ruled by the Castro regime and not one dominated by the US either.

    The Batistianos are all dead and gone. They aren’t coming back, so you will have to drop them as your bogeyman.

  • I just returned from Cuba – research trip # 86 and feel there will some movement in U.S. / Cuba relations before the end of this year.

  • Rich, your timeline is wrong. You are entitled to your opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

    Anastas Mikoyan visited Cuba in February 1960, signing the sugar for oil treaty.

    The US embargo began on 19 October 1960.

    The Bay of Pigs invasion occurred in April, 1961. The Cuban army used Russian T-33 tanks during the battle.

    Therefore, your assertion that the US embargo & the Bay of Pigs invasion drove Cuba to align with the USSR is factually false. Cuba had already made that alliance.

    Your assertion that Fidel, Ciefuegos & Celia were democrats is false.

    According to Carlos Franqui, one of Cienfuegos’s closest friends during the Cuban revolution, Cienfuegos “sympathized with socialism” and that he followed the Marxist Che Guevara politically.

    Fidel was a Marxist before he began his fight against Batista. Fabian Grobart, one of the original founders of the Cuban Communist Party recruited Fidel Castro in 1948.

    Nixon did not “usurp” Eisenhower. Ike had no intention of meeting Fidel. He went golfing to avoid Fidel and sent his Vice-President to meet with the Cuban revolutionaries.

    Fidel announced in February 1959 that the elections he had promised would be postponed for two years. He would not have then gone to the US in April 1959 to tell Eisenhower of his plan for election in the autumn.

    I can find no evidence that Camilo Cienfuegos accompanied Fidel during the April 1959 trip to New York. If you have a source to support that claim, please post a link or page reference.

    The two prime decision makers were Fidel and Fidel. Celia, Raul, Camilo and everybody else took their cue from the big man. To do otherwise was unhealthy.

  • If the majority of Cuban’s supported Fidel, why did he never hold those free elections he had promised? He was very popular, especially so as he controlled all the media which fawned over him. If Castro had allowed free elections, he would have won a large majority.

    But there would still be a small legitimized opposition, and that was one thing the Comandante would never accept. No opposition or dissenting opinion of any kind would be tolerated.

  • Moses, of the six most important Cuban revolutionaries, three favored democracy for Cuba after the triumph of the revolution on January 1, 1959. Those three were Celia. Fidel, and Camilo. All three of them quickly embarked on a 12 day visit to the U. S. in April of 1959 to inform President Eisenhower only to have VP Nixon usurp Ike and tell Fidel he would be overthrown in weeks. The next three most important Cuban revolutionaries…Che, Raul and Vilma… did not make that key visit to the U. S. and Che, Raul, and Vilma all had strong communist leanings during and after the Revolutionary War. But the two prime decision makers were Celia and Fidel, both of whom believed democracy and friendly relations with the U.S. were what they had fought for, but all that changed with the Nixon threat followed by assassination attempts, the Bay of Pigs attack, the embargo, etc., which induced Celia to align Cuba with the Soviet Union and she initiated that with a cable to Deputy Premier Anatas Mikoyan. Such facts may not compute with the prevalent Cuban narrative espoused by Cuban exiles but they do compute with historic facts. I believe the U. S. democracy is still capable of embracing even Cuban truths, except obviously not in the present milieu. Peter Kornbluh at the U. S. National Security Archives and Sarah Stephens at the Center for Democracy in the Americas are excellent sources for documented, unbiased truths about Cuba, as are great books by Ann Louise Bardach and Julia Sweig.

  • Your post contains several factual errors.

    Fidel’s trip to the US in April 1959 was not “for the purpose of telling President Eisenhower that the island would have a democratic election that fall and the U. S. could tightly monitor it.” A few weeks earlier, on February 28, Castro had announced that general elections will be held in Cuba in 2 years. Quoted in the NY Times: “Elections could not be held now because they would not be fair. We have an overwhelming majority at present and it is in the interest of the nation that the political parties become fully developed and their programs defined before elections are held.”

    It is absurd of you to claim Fidel then went to the US to promise elections in the fall, when he had already postponed them for 2 years.

    Fidel was invited by the US Press Club. He hired a public relations firm to advise him on how to present a favourable image to the US public. His delegation included José Pepín Bosch and Daniel Bacardi, whose property Fidel would seize in a few months time. Also travelling with Fidel were members of the Cuban Communist Party, using false ID. While meeting with Nixon, the Vice-President presented a list of names of people in the new Revolutionary government who the US suspected of being Communists. Fidel faked surprise at the information and turned to one of his entourage named in the list, “Coño, did you know this guy is a Communist?”

    In his book, “The Real Fidel Castro” biographer Leycester Coltman wrote,

    “Nixon confronted him with evidence of growing Communist influence in Cuba. Castro brushed this aside, saying there was no need to be so frightened of the Communists. …Nixon raised the executions and the failure to set a date for elections. When Castro said that the people supported the revolutionary trials, and had no interest in early elections, Nixon replied that a leader should do what is right and not just follow the crowd. …Castro felt he was being patronized and humiliated.” p. 157

    Whatever his other faults, Nixon was a shrewd judge of men. He was not fooled by Fidel’s charade. He came away from the meeting with the conclusion that Castro was “either incredibly naive about communism or under communist discipline — my guess is the former.”

    The purpose of Fidel’s trip was to gain public support in the US as a means to keeping the US government at bay a little longer. He needed time to cement his grip on power. His goal was to establish a Marxist regime in Cuba, with himself as ruler, and he knew the US would never accept that. He needed time to draw in the USSR for their economic, diplomatic and most crucially, military support. Fidel’s actions in the coming months confirmed this interpretation of events.

  • Cubans in Miami and Union City “will come out of the woodwork” when Fidel dies but most on the island will be saddened. You suggested I check my facts. I formed that opinion when I visited the island courtesy of the George W. Bush administration and made it a point to eat with and stay with everyday Cubans selected randomly. Your belief that the Cubans on the island are anxious to rant their hatred of Fidel Castro once he dies is as misguided as most of the other propaganda since 1959. As a democracy loving American I am aware of how much the U. S. Cuban policy has hurt our democracy and I believe it will continue to do so long after Castro is gone. Cubans on the island want better, richer lives but not at the expense of being dominated again by Spain, the Mafia, or the U. S. If you, Moses, have been to the island and formed a different opinion, let us know. Only a minority of Cuban exiles yearn for a return of the Batista years. The Cubans on the island yearn for friendly relations with the U.S. but minus the Batistianos and the Mafia.

  • Moses, you really did not get around to refuting any of the points I made because there are documents to support them. President Kennedy leading up to the Bay of Pigs was assured by the CIA that Castro would run to his getaway plane when the bombs started hitting the island prior to the land invasion. And JFK was assured that the Cubans on the island would rise up against Castro once they realized the U. S. was attacking. Such drastic untruths about Cuba have been replicated since 1959. If you think Mexico, Peru, and Colombia are more important than Latin American superpower Brazil, etc., why not discuss why every Caribbean and Latin American nation adamantly opposes the U.S. Cuban policy, or would to do so refute your entire thesis? Or tell us how sweetly the Batista/Mafia dictators treated the Cubans. If the majority of Cubans on the island did not support Fidel, he would have been gone long ago.

  • There are so many false facts in your comment, I don’t know where to begin. You have also failed to include real facts that would undermine your thesis. How does the Castro letter to Khrushchev urging the Soviet President to launch nuclear bombs on various US cities jibe with your claim that Fidel wanted to normalize relations with the US. Nicaragua and Bolivia rank as most important Latin American nations while Mexico, Peru and Colombia are ignored. What kind of list is that? Check your facts Rich. Fidel was a communist long before the Bay of Pigs. Finally, Fidel Castro’s legacy is far from rosy. Once the despot dies, Cubans inside of Cuba will come out of the woodwork with stories of his tyranny. Foreigners like you have only the lies he has told you to judge him by. Cubans who have suffered his rule will yet have their day to share their version of the truth.

  • The Castro regime is not (yet) willing to honestly negotiate with the US. It still hopes that it will survive and be able to achieve an end to sanctions without compromising.
    Only when the hardship reaches the regime’s elite (end of Venezuelan subsidies and Russia not stepping in) will it try to nehgotiate.

  • In the U. S. the Cuban narrative since 1959 has been dominated by elements that fled the Cuban Revolution to, essentially, resurrect the ousted Batista dictatorship on U. S. soil, namely Miami and Union City. In 1952 the U. S. teamed with the Mafia to support the Batista dictatorship in Cuba because rich U. S. businessmen partook in the rape and robbery of the island, a process that two generations from U. S. soil have replicated because the Miami-Union City-Washington triangle since 1959 — with self-serving sycophants such as the Bush dynasty, Robert Torricelli, Jesse Helms, Dan Burton, etc. — have dictated a U. S. Cuban policy that every Caribbean nation, every Latin American nation, and — based on the yearly vote in the UN — the rest of the world, including America’s best friends, heartily disagrees with. Mr. Ravsberg makes a lot of salient points in this article. I would add this fact: Since 1959 Cuba has realized that Revolutionary Cuba needs friendly relations with its neighbor that happens to be the richest and strongest nation in the history of the world, and the Castro government has repeatedly let the U. S. know that it would bend over backwards to further that aim, making any concessions except relinquishing its hard-earned sovereignty. U. S. influence in Latin America and the image of the U. S. democracy has taken a hit for six decades because of America’s Cuban policy. Any American who cares enough about the U. S. democracy to Google the history of U.S.-Cuban relations would understand undeniable examples of Cuba’s repeated desire, since the overthrow of the U.S./Mafia-backed Batista dictatorship, to have the U. S. as a friend and a key trade partner. For example, in April of 1959 Celia Sanchez and Fidel Castro, right after the triumph of the revolution, made a 12-day trip to the U. S. for the purpose of telling President Eisenhower that the island would have a democratic election that fall and the U. S. could tightly monitor it. But the promised meeting with Eisenhower was aborted by Vice President Richard Nixon’s wing of the White House and Nixon, famously, assured Castro face-to-face that Revolutionary Cuba would be overthrown in a matter of “weeks.” Celia Sanchez was so outraged she returned to Cuba and loudly proclaimed, “The Batistianos will never regain control of Cuba as long as I live or as long as Fidel lives.” She died of cancer in 1980; Fidel is 88 and alive but unwell. So, her proclamation still lives. The Bay of Pigs attack in April of 1961 and numerous CIA/Mafia assassination attempts against Castro quickly followed what Cuba considered a double-cross perpetrated by Nixon in April of 1959..But it was only after the 1961 Bay of Pigs attack and the assassination attempts that Fidel Castro announced in 1962 that Cuba was a Marxist state aligned with the Soviet Union. The John Kennedy presidency that began in 1960 inherited the concerted U. S. plan to overthrow Revolutionary Cuba, and both JFK and his brother Robert famously carried through the Bay of Pigs attack as well as a continuation of the assassination attempts. However, by 1963 President Kennedy, with ABC News Anchor Lisa Howard acting as the intermediary between Celia Sanchez and President Kennedy, told his top aides — such as Press Secretary Pierre Salinger — that, when he returned from Dallas, his “top priority” was to normalize relations with Cuba. Within days after making that vow, on Nov. 22-1963, JFK returned from Dallas in a coffin. Yet, Celia Sanchez and Lisa Howard continued to try to normalize U.S.-Cuban relations via direct contact with President Lyndon Johnson. It is known that Johnson himself got Lisa Howard fired as the ABC-TV News Anchor. Then on July 4, 1965 Lisa Howard “mysteriously” died. Even after all that, as any Google researcher could easily document, Fidel Castro, who primarily acted on Celia Sanchez’s dictates, sent a truly remarkable, detailed, written letter to President Johnson literally begging the U. S. to normalize relations with Cuba. Peter Kornbluh at the U.S. National Security Archive website, has posted that letter. In that letter — now an historic document — Castro even pointed out that LBJ, if he thought such efforts to normalize relations with Cuba would hurt his chances for re-election, could wait until after the U. S. election to announce his intentions. That Castro-to-Johnson letter makes for insightful reading, but Americans are not supposed to Google or read such things because to do so might depart from the Cuban narrative that has prevailed in the U. S. since 1959. Of course, LBJ and his cohorts ignored the Castro overture and then the Vietnam War, not Cuba, was the issue that convinced him not to seek re-election. As a democracy-loving zealot, I am saddened by a U. S. Cuban policy that has so badly for all these decades harmed the U. S. democracy and America’s image, especially throughout Latin America. At the same time, that policy has bolstered and solidified Fidel Castro’s image and will do the same for his soon-to-be legacy, which already has seen Castro worshipers democratically elected Presidents of Latin America’s most important nations — Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua, Bolivia, etc. As an American, I wish in the year 2014 those Latin American presidents worshiped America more than they worship Mr. Castro.

  • Time for Cuba to allow independent political parties and legalize a free press. Time for Cuba to release all political prisoners and hold open and transparent elections. Time for the Castros to step down. Do you think we have a deal?

  • time to end the embargo and take cuba off the list of countries who are state sponsors of terrorism. Cuba is holding peace talks between FARC and the Colombian government so that is no longer an excuse. We have full relations with China and Vietnam so why not Cuba?

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