Obama and Raul Castro dialogue: What’s next US-Cuba?

By Isaac Risco (dpa)

Raul Castro and Barack Obama at the Summit of the Americas. Photo: Estudios Revolución.

HAVANA TIMES — A “historic” gathering with an open ending, the Panama Summit will be remembered as the scenario in which the presidents of the United States and Cuba turned to dialogue, but it will be just one more stop on a long road.

“We are ready to discuss everything, but we have to be patient, very patient,” said the president of Cuba, Raul Castro, during his meeting with his US counterpart in Panama City.

Barack Obama also acknowledged that both parties will often “disagree”, but hoped they do so “with respect”.

Full normalization of relations between Washington and Havana will be a “long process, difficult and complex,” predicted Cuba Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, when he appeared before the press to discuss the historical dialogue between Obama and Castro.

Despite the thaw between the two countries, “profound differences” persist that will not be easy to remedy. Even the planned reopening of embassies is without a date. Rodriguez could not even confirm when the fourth round of the negotiations who occur. The talks began in January.

The United States has not yet announced the removal of Cuba from its list of countries sponsoring terrorism, noted Rodriguez, which is currently seen as one of the main obstacles to the advancement of the diplomatic rapprochement.

In Panama there was speculation that Washington would announce the removal of Cuba from the “black list” during the days of the summit. The list, in effect since 1982, currently includes Iran, Sudan, Syria and Cuba. The White House said that the evaluation process has concluded, but the decision is not taken.

Raul Castro and Barack Obama dialogue at the Summit of the Americas in the presence of their delegations. Photo: Estudios Revolución

Obama attributed the inaction to a temporary issue. “I’ve been traveling and I want to make sure I have a chance to read it (evaluation),” he explained.

Rodriguez also called for a prompt solution to the problem faced by the Cuban Interests Section in Washington because no bank will handle its accounts, due to ramifications of the US embargo on the island. The building is destined to become the next Cuban Embassy.

Even when praising Obama for approving measures to ease the embargo, Rodriguez was critical: “Cuba appreciates the very limited steps taken by the US government,” he said.

But Washington has repeatedly stressed since it began diplomatic negotiations with the Castro administration that it will continue to support Cuban dissidents. “Our governments will continue to have differences,” Obama noted in Panama.

Before his first greeting with Castro at the summit, the US President even received two Cuban dissidents, along with 13 other civil society activists from around the continent. The anti-Castro opponents had participated in the civil society forum that took place in the days before the summit, in which there were several incidents between Castro supporters and dissidents.

Raul Castro and Barack Obama on April 11, 2015, at the Summit of the Americas in Panama.

“Nobody thought that decades of mistrust and suspicion were going to disappear overnight,” said Michael Shifter of the Washington Inter-American Dialogue think tank before the summit.

Full normalization of relations with Cuba in the region itself will be a difficult task. To date, Havana refuses to return to the Organization of American States (OAS), despite the body lifting six years ago its 1962 sanctions against Cuba.

The government of Raul Castro rejects the OAS, traditionally seeing it as an “instrument of domination” of Washington in the region.

“Rapprochement, if any, will occur in the coming years, through other UN agencies,” predicted the outgoing OAS general secretary, José Miguel Insulza, in a conversation with dpa in Panama.

The new secretary, Luis Almagro, said he expects to achieve the return of Cuba during his mandate.

21 thoughts on “Obama and Raul Castro dialogue: What’s next US-Cuba?

  • Mr Bego,

    I lived 48 years in Cuba, and I know it from east to west and from the top to the bottom of the society. You do not have an idea about the country but talk about from hearsay.

  • Remittances from the US far exceed remittances from all over the entire world combined, not just Spain. The US did not destroy Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia destroyed Yugoslavia. Cuban food is not all organic. And you want to talk about brainwashing and propaganda? Do you really live in Cuba? Finally, let don’t eat garbage. You Castro guys are piece of work! Hahaha!

  • Well said! Cuba did well on its’ own and proved the strength of Cuban unity against the usa and its’ criminals. Cuba can and will continue on its’ own path. The only option left to usa is to follow or be abandoned by all of its’ current allies, who seem to be flocking to Cuba from the region like bees to the spring flowers full of nectar.

    After all, that is what Cuba is. ANd it will NEVER belong to the usa. Soon Guantanamo will be returned to the mother country – CUBA – as well, and Cuba will be whole and stronger than ever.

    Unlike the fat, burger-eating criminals from the north.
    You know the song: yankee go home.

  • You obviously haven’t. So don’t be pretentious and patronising.

  • You are right. Your comment is a looney comment. Cuba needs usa like fish needs a dry land. And, oh by the way, the most of the remittances come from Spain, and Europe, not from the usa. So it is NOT the usa that keeps Cuba afloat. It is tourism industry and Cubans in Spain, and Europe.

    I am Yugoslav and live in Cuba since usa destroyed Yugoslavia in 1993. I could not be happier here. It’s a beautiful, peaceful and very safe country. Yes, a lot of things are missing, but we have our neighbours and friends. We are all in the same boat and we all help each other. The life is simple, fresh and the food is all organic. No commercial propaganda on TV. Just relaxing and educative programs.

    Unlike your capitalist propaganda brainwashing you 24/7. No wonder people in Cuba live longer than people in the usa. Or any of the “developed” “democracies”. And garbage that you eat.

    None of that sheet in Cuba. Stay away.

  • …..the Muslim President? Hahaha!

  • I hope that you are wrong.

  • Ha..ha…. You are funny….
    Did you hear that Obama was asking about human rights?? All I can say is be careful, Big Brother is watching you. Yes. You must be worried about Russians. They might invade Cuba saying “You got weapons of mass destruction”..

  • Walkinbear:

    I have never heard such an uninformed opinion about Cuba. Have you ever gone there and lived like the simple people (not tourist) do?

  • Since posting here and speaking as an independent voice, I have had assassination attempts on my character and life itself in my country of birth. (Aparttied or something like it exists in the heart of the queens men) and although having experienced extreme pressures throughout my life as early as 18 years when a representitive of the queen put my name on interpol illegally. My disscusions with the apropriate authorities ended with a warning of how dangerous the queens representitives really are, some years later after my Dental school was sabotaged , my golf car franchise was bankrupt , and many unspeakable files were created to destroy me and cover up this life ending illegal computer entry to interpol.
    The files eventually ended up in the Cuban authorities hands (I am fortunate to have survived)and they cleared me due to what I like to call mysterious ways.I am thankful and consider Cuba to be my adoptive country.The most recent attempt was documented and so I am pushed to disclose the interpol incident to try to prevent further cover up attempts through disclosure. And that is all I have to say about that .
    That said, it is better to forgive and move forward in a reasonable manner so as not to alienate those who may feel so. The Great Spirit wich has provided this path way should be heart felt. It is for me.
    Thank You

  • walkingbear well spoken

  • Fanciful. Cuba has won it’s freedom. The U.S. has zero interest in adding Cuba as a state. That historical ambition is long past. America is not Russia that keeps pushing into it’s neighbors lands.

    Cuba is not going to give up a thing. The current Cuban government has had stable authority since the 1960’s. Cuba will deal with U.S. on it’s own terms. A little more trade and a few tourist is not going to be transformational.

  • Short term, Obama is not asking much. Full compliment of Embassy staff with normal privilege is all. He is counting on longterm impact of closer relations. It is a gift to Cuba. Raul could not be happier.

  • I am not aware of any terms that require Raul “to cave”. Raul praised Obama as an honest man. The U.S. economy is the strongest in the world at this time. The hate for Obama on Cuba is misplaced. He has made lot’s of other mistakes, hate him for those. But on Cuba, he trying to change an ugly relationship that goes back decades.

    And some fresh news on Cuba economy, it could use some help.

  • Interesting that its the “crooks” in Miami who are keeping the failed Cuban economy afloat with billions in remittances. Funny that even today Cuban citizens risk their lives to escape Cuba. Why is that?

  • What a looney comment! First of all, George Washington was the first US President. US B52’s do not land in Cuba and Cuba needs the US like a fish needs water. There is so much bad information in this comment it really is not worth reading. My mistake. …

  • What is next: endless discussions drawn out by the Castro regime to slowly acquire one advantage after the other without allowing real change and without releasing control. That is clear.
    Raul says he is willing to “talk” about anything. He never said he would do something.

  • Do you think…after all he has been through in his life, that Raul is going to cave in to the muslim president who fronts a massive move to overwhelm and overtake Cuba? NOT gonna happen. The congress will NEVER allow Obama to exit Guantanamo or to dust the embargo. And the Cubans have no thought of handing the government over to the thieves and crooks in Miami. Cuba does not need the USA. The USA needs Cuba…a project to pull them out of their economic/political death spiral. Keep the violence, guns, drugs, abuse, corruption, inflation, desecration of resources in the USA. Cuba is doing just fine and making moves forward.

  • Tomas Jefferson…the first US president made it abundantly clear he wanted to include Cuba in his package of new American States. He was honest about this. Since 1898 the Americans made strong moves to overwhelm and capture the Cuban economy and to push towards annexation of the island nation. Didn’t happen! The Revolution in cuba was perhaps the most just revolution in recent history…an effort to throw the crooks, the mafia, the pimps, the drug dealers, the land thieves and other Americans out of the country, and to return Cubans to the Cubans. Afterwards, at the Bay of PIgs, the Cubans repelled a full scale invasion by Americans at the Bay of PIgs. JK Kennedy declined to support the failed attempt with a full out air attack. For this reason, Castro well knew that Kennedy had every intention ifo invading Cuba with a full out attack of regular forces. Kennedy was indeed told to invade Cuba or suffer the consequences. What happened next in Dallas is in the history books! Kennedy’s death had much to do with Cuba, the Mob, The Trafficante family, Mayer Lansky and the pressure to invade Cuba. Febe Robozo…a cuban expat living in Key Biscayne in Florida, had a private suite in Richard Nixon’s White House. Mass murderer Louis Posada lives today in Miami, as a “hero” to the ex Cuban thugs pushing for the overthrow of Cuba. Obama wanted the photo-op shot shaking Raul’s hand, to help detract from his Pro-Muslim politics. But he shook the hand of a Cuban whom he still has listed as a terrorist! This they did with Nelson Mandela as well! As he shook the hand of Raul, the embargo remains in full force and effect. Those huge b52 Stratofortress nuclear armed jets still land in Cuba during their world-scouring hovering missions aloft. And there has not been one rec cent paid to apply any relief to the untold billions of dollars in damages caused by the illegal American embargo. Then there is the issue of Americans wanting seized properties back. Well….what are the chances of the USA rebuilding homjes destroyed in Vietnam, in Iraq, or in Panama where at Christmas time in 1989 they entered “looking for Noriega” and burned and entire neighborhood to the ground, killing six thousand people who died in the flames and helicopter gunfire. What are the chances of the USA changing from their war-based economy, to becoming a civilized country. Why would Cuba want to import American democracy, when it is so rife with corruption, greed and murderous ecapades abroad? Why would Cuba want to discuss human rights with the USA… a country where prejudice against people based on skin color still exists, and where cops kill unarmed innocent blacks as if it is “just another day in the office!” Cuba has befriended the entire world. They can move ahead continually now, as they have been doing these past few years, making sensible changes and moving foward and trading with China, India, Russia, Canada, the UK, all South and Central America, France, Germany, Holland, Spain, Italy etc. Mexico, Indonesia…Australia too. Cuba does NOT need the USA in any form shape or dimension. The USA wants to set in placea a strategy to overwhelm Cuba…to steal that island nation, and add it to their collection of States that continue to crumble under the load of street drugs, violence, corruption, bad politics, commercial/economic foreign wars by design, declining resources, lost jobs, and a virtual sellout to China. Last time I checked, China was a communist country, yet they own almost $3 trillion of US Debt! So why is Cuba’s communist system such a huge concern for the USA as they sell out to the Chinese?

  • It remains to be seen what short-term goals that Obama hopes to achieve in exchange for the concessions he is making to the Castro dictatorship. Like his diplomatic efforts in Iran, he will have to go public with his deal with Cuba. It’s clear what the Castros are getting. A lifeline to replace the Venezuelan support that is crumbling away. What is not so clear up to this point is what the Castros have offered in trade for that lifeline. So far it’s been a free ride.

  • Obama has a new friend. Odds favor Obama visiting Raul in Cuba before his term ends. It won’t matter much if Rubio or Clinton are President, the path forward whether slower or faster is now set. Like Nixon opening China, it is hard to close the door once the past starts to be put away.

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