Biden: US Wants”Real Change” in Cuba

Havana newsstand.
Havana newsstand.

HAVANA TIMES — US Vice President Joe Biden said today that Washington believes that Cuba has made some “small encouraging signs” of change but that the Obama administration still wants to see “real change” leading to a “democratic” future of the island.

At the same time, he warned that the imprisonment of US agent Alan Gross in Havana is still one of the main obstacles to a dialogue with Cuba, reported DPA news.

“We have seen some small encouraging signs as the release of political prisoners, the lifting of travel restrictions and small economic reforms,” ??Biden said in his keynote speech to the 43rd Conference of the Americas at the State Department in Washington.

However, he criticized what he called the continuing “abuse and arrest” of people who want to express an opinion different from the official policy of the island.

Therefore, he said, although the Obama administration has made some gestures toward liberalization of Cuba travel and remittances for Cuban-Americans, the ultimate goal is still seeing a democratic island and that the US would continue working in that direction.

“What we really want to do is encourage the next level of cooperation in Cuba, (encourage) real changes, significant, permanent, the type of peaceful democratic change and courageous that Cubans like (the late dissident) Oswaldo Paya have defended,” said Biden.

That is why “we will continue taking steps to support the Cuban people and the prosperous democratic future they deserve,” he said.

In any dialogue with Havana the case of Alan Gross continues to weigh heavy, Biden reiterated.

The Vice President recalled that even “many of those who support more involvement in Cuba” have spoken out in favor of Gross’s release and he assured that the Obama administration is “working on it”.

69 thoughts on “Biden: US Wants”Real Change” in Cuba

  • What “pisses me off” is that Cubans have no real choice, Dan Christensen.
    What “pisses me off” is that there are no free and fair elections in Cuba.
    What “pisses me off” is that the Castro constitution made Cuba a one party state controlled by a corrupt elite.
    If the dissidents indeed had no chance in an open elections the Castro regime would not have to resort to their abusive system.
    The fact the regime has to resort to disallowing free an fair elections where voters can chose from candidates of all political persuasions exposes your lies.
    The do so for a reason. the regime knows it would lose.
    The regime’s actions speak louder than your propaganda words, Dan Christensen.
    Those opposing Castro on’t want another dictatorship, Dan Christensen. To the contrary. they wants a free and open democracy.

  • You are just pissed off that your “dissident” pals can’t seem to get anywhere within the system. To the extent that anyone in Cuba knows about them at all, they are seen as traitors in the pay of that belligerent and genocidal superpower to the North. (Your beloved embargo seems to backfired in this regard. It has strengthened rather than weakened the resolve of the people.)

    Your own man in Havana has written off these “dissidents” of yous as bunch of money-grubbing losers who couldn’t get elected dog-catchers, losers who have shown absolutely no capacity to lead. In his despair, he conceded that the next generation of leaders will, in all likelihood, come for the mid-ranks of the current government. (see WikiLeaks)

    In Cuba, the majority really does rule. They will never go back to your “good old days” under a US-backed dictatorship.

  • sure it`s defending human right to try to wreck the country…. as long as it`s against commies, it`s human rights ! ?

  • The party is just another organization controlled by the dictatorship.
    So are all other organizations that are involved in the process of vetting and selecting the so-called candidates for these utterly controlled elections.
    By these I mean the Committees for the defense of the revolution that control the process to select the acceptable candidates for the local elections. These were set up with the help of the Stasi (state security) of East Germany and other communist security agencies. Their purpose is to report any dissent. Not supporting the proposed candidates can be dangerous.
    These pre-approved candidates then propose the candidates for national elections together with the mass organizations (unions, federation of women, …) which the regime also controls. Without their approval nobody gets on the ballot.

    In short and exposing Dan Christensen’s fallacy: it is the party that is the issue that ensures there are no free and fair elections: its is the regime. To claim the party has no role is denying reality as the single party in this one party state and all other organizations in the country are no more than fronts of the regime that controls them all.

  • The Communist Party of Cuba does not participate in elections in any way. Non-members can and do get elected. I don’t have stats for every year, but in the late 1990’s, something like 20% of the National Assembly were not Party members.

    Candidates in national elections meet with voters in their district, usually in meetings at their places of work to present themselves and answer questions.

    A candidate for the National Assembly can only be elected if he or she obtains the support of the majority (50%+) in their district. If no one on the ballot obtains majority support, an entirely new slate of candidates must be put forward.

    Once elected, most of the delegate’s time as a member of the National Assembly is spent in legislative committee meetings. The plenary sessions take up only a few days of the year.

    Candidates for the National Assembly are nominated in a secret ballot by the democratically elected Municipal Assembly. Local unions, farmers’, women’s and students’ groups can only suggest nominees to the Municipal Assembly. And, of course, the voters themselves have the final veto.

    Candidates for the Municipal Assembly are nominated in open public meetings in each neighbourhood.

    Your “dissident” pals are weeded out only by their demonstrated lack of leadership in their respective communities. According to your own man in Havana, former USINT head, Jonathan Ferrer, they are too busy fighting among themselves and grubbing for money! (WikiLeaks) Unlike the case in the US, you can’t just buy a nomination in Cuba. Must be frustrating as hell for you.

    Every member of the government including Fidel and Raul must stand for election to the National Assembly every five years. The President and Council of State are elected by members of the National Assembly from among its membership, also by secret ballot. Nothing undemocratic about that.

  • I have no friends in Miami nor Sevilla.
    Batista was a dictator. So is Castro.
    Human rights in Cuba are much more violated than in Spain (protection by EU convention and courts) and the US (protected by the constitution and the supreme court).
    I will not refrain from posting posts that describe the reality in Cuba so you can mislead people more easily.

  • Well, why don`t you tell this your friends in Miami or Sevilla, your beloved Y and B, thinking that the embargo is so great and that under Batista everything was even greater. start defending Human Rights in the US ansand in Spain. That´ll keep you busy instead of posting phony articles on Cuba.

  • I do not know which repression you talk about. Are you talking about this paid muppets thinking they can ignore any Cuban law?

  • The Cuban people is being punished by the Castro regime.
    Cloe to 5 billion dollars in remittances (cash and goods) go to Cuba mainly from the USA.

    Cuba is the one with repressive laws that punish people that haven’t committed any crimes for being dangerous.
    As far as genocide goes: Cubaqus has exposed the lie that the embargo is genocide and correctly made the point that it is the Cuban regime that is condemned by the international community.

    As far as “nothing being wrong” with being anti-Castro: I agree. I also want Cubans that are anti-Castro to be able to freely express themselves in Cuba.

    As far as the tools go: you are wrong on both counts. The embargo is not genocide or unjust punishment of the Cuban people. Similar sanctions worked for South Africa and Myanmar.

  • Whatever it is, it is pro-Cuban to defend human rights.

  • According to me there is no opposition in Cuba.
    In the US there is a lively opposition with various parties and a lot more groups at the local level.

  • Your post is rather disingenuous. Cuban elections are not a “no-party system”. They are a one party system, the Cuban Communist Party which is the only legal political party in the country. In theory, non-party members may run for office, bit they are never elected. In theory voters may reject candidates, but this has never happened. No candidate is allowed to criticize the government or the Communist Party. All media, TV, radio & print, is controlled by the Communist Party.

    Once elected, the parliamentarians meet briefly, listen to speeches and then rubber-stamp whatever proposals the Party and government (who are all the same people, anyway) put in front of them, including the election of the ministers.

    You claim that the Communist Party cannot nominate, finance nor endorse a candidate. That is not actually true in practice, as the various organizations which do nominate the candidates; the CDRs, the Youth League, the Federation of Cuban Women, and the Workers’ Central Union of Cuba, are all controlled and directed by the Communist Party. Thus, a candidate is nominated in the name of the Trade Union, but the trade union is controlled by the Party, so in practice the union nominates the candidate the Party wants.

    All candidates must then be approved by the National Candidacy Commission, taking into account criteria such as the candidates’ merit, patriotism, ethical values and “revolutionary history”. Thus any dangerous reformers or critics are weeded out. The NCC members are all Party Members, and they are appointed by, …can you guess? The government minister, who is by definition a member of the Communist Party.

    For example, Raúl Castro is the President of the Council of State, President of the Council of Ministers (sometimes referred to as the Prime Minister), First Secretary of the Communist Party, and Commander-in-Chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces. Simply put: all the top positions of power in Cuba are concentrated in one man who has never stood for election in a free and democratic vote.

  • You do realize The Onion is a satire website?

    China’s cheap labour is important to the US economy, but of even greater importance are the huge Chinese savings rates which allows them to finance the massive US debt. This symbiotic financial relationship has been called “Chimerica”.

    For many years the US did enforce an embargo on China. This was lifted only after Deng Xiaoping introduced economic reforms and the US-China trade & financial relationship developed from that point.

    Perhaps that will happen with US & Cuba one day. But if it does so under the current Cuban regime of the single party dictatorship it will not be for the better as far as the Cuban people are concerned.

  • It’s not about ‘schoolyard rules’. If you didn’t notice, I was being sarcastic all along. Alas the first one of being accused of that, not rules, but logic, are you and Griffin with the ‘good vs evil’ Disney-like campaign to overthrow the sovereign Cuban Republic.

    And it is about bullying and cowardice and sheer hipocrisy, making all this bullshit crap talk about ‘human rights’ when you have carnar relationships with the Saudi Monarchy and so on.

  • You are applying schoolyard rules to a relationship more complex than that. First of all, the US applies constant pressure on China for more democracy. At the same time, a destabilized China would be more problematic to the world economy than a China lacking democracy. Out of pragmatism, not cowardice does the US choose to moderate our pressure on China. On the other hand, the anti-Castro lobby bsed in Miami is far more vigorous in pressuring US government policy to maintain the embargo. It is equally pragmatic to acquiesce to this Cuban lobby. THERE IS VERY LITTLE TO BE GAINED BY THE US IN MAKING UNILATERAL CONCESSIONS TO THE COMMUNISTS IN CUBA. It is not because we are bullies that the policy is what it is. it is because Miami Cubans have effectively exercised their democratic rights to have their government reflect their interests. Like the Gun manufacturers and the tobacco companies, sometimes in an open democracy, a small and well-organized minority can influence the majority to effect policy that may not make sense to the majority. Sucks but whadya’ gonna do?

  • The fact remains that, under Helms-Burton, only certain economic systems in Cuba will be tolerated by the US regime. And the Cuban people are to have no say in the matter.

  • Utopies are the reality of tomorrow. We should dream together

  • it`s anti castro as represantative of a socialist system, as it is anti _chavez, Morales, Correa, Lula, Kirchner etc. Just don`t come with some phony argument

  • Well that`?s what I said, in the Us there is no freedom. Accordibng to you thre´s no opposition, strange. A hundred percent agree wih the government. CubaQS: I think you just shot a goal into your own goal yourself

  • Well, and I tell you its not

  • Defending the human rights of the Cubans by punishing them for things they didn’t with the sole purpose of inflict financial damage to a few people, and doing so against the Geneva convention for war crimes?

    Article 33: “No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.”

    Defending human rights by committing genocide against their population as defined in the Geneva convention?

    Article 2: “In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

    (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;”

    There is nothing wrong with being anti-Castro, but when you pick tools that target the civilian population you are in the wrong. And they are not stupid, at worst the Cuban government is guilty of incompetence (not even that, since they manage to avoid mass starvation after the collapse of the eastern block), while the disgusting anti-Castro crowd is intentionally inflicting misery in their population to force an uprising that overthrown their own government.

    That my friend is pure malevolence and Cubans are not stupid to not recognize it. In a sense, the anti-Castro hostility has been the most powerful ally the Castros ever had to keep them in power. Virtually any other government would have collapsed after the economic crisis that following the fall of the USSR and the ideological blow it represented to the Cuban revolution, but they survived. And not only survived, the harsh condition even failed to create any serious opposition to their rule.

    For that, my friend you must thank the rabid anti-Castro mob that smelled blood and went for the kill. And killing they did indeed, mostly on children an elderly Cubans too weak to handle the food deprivation and the unsanitary conditions in hospitals and elsewhere caused by the extreme shortage of supplies. And some went blind because of the neuropathy epidemics caused by the lack of vitamins.

    So be serious here. Anti-Castro has been synonym of anti-Cuban for so long that they just hate for hating sake and don’t rarely stop to think about the effects of their hatred in their fellow Cubans and if they do, they don’t care.

  • On that point, I have to agree with you, Luis. While the US has from time to time called for improvements in human rights in China, or criticized them for specific incidents, they do not call for regime change in Beijing. They should.

    But then again, Castro never condemns China either. Cuba still supports North Korea, Syria, Iran and Belarus: all of them brutal dictatorships. Hypocrisy is never in short supply all around the world.

  • You claimed Cubaverdad was based in Miami.
    It isn’t.
    You lied and not just about this.
    Please discuss facts and refrain from posting these ridiculous accusations.

  • Raul Castro says he wasn’t.
    Why do you disagree with him?

  • That was a ludicrous statement.

    Look up the facts on the web.

  • What opposition and where?

  • I know very well what a Stalinist system is.
    So does communist Paul Hampton:

    “Is Cuba socialist?

    Paul Hampton of Workers’ Liberty spoke in debate with Bernard Regan, a leading member of the Socialist Teachers’ Alliance, at a London Workers’ Liberty meeting on 3 February 1999.
    Paul Hampton argued that Cuba displays the essential characteristics of Stalinism”

  • that`s what you pretend. strangely enough hardly anybody on the island believes that.

  • Us senators usually are deaf to what Cuba says. All of a sudden they could hear?

  • well, persoonally I think he should be sent home, because he`s just a poor chap. They should maybe put someone from the CIA in prison instead. I think Gross was lured by the US secret services and kust sold and left alone. Unless theywanted to create an incident, to have another pretext for more troubles.

  • Well Miami, Madrid, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego NYC or Sevilla or whatseoever, its not really the question. Miamista is a question of style and containence. There`s not much difference between European rightwingers or Us- american ones. Anyways the finance each other, so what?I mean what does European mean? Is that a political category? I`m European , too. So what?

  • don`t tell me that that lively opposition is not controlled by the FBI and the secret services. Be a little bit objective.

  • guess you don´t know what a stalinist system is. you would not even be able to publish here, if it were so

  • Cubans have more real choice than US voters. Unlike the case in the US, in Cuba, candidates are not nominated by distant, money-hungry political machines. In Cuba, the nomination process is strictly a grassroots process. There, voters nominate their neighbours to local assemblies who, in turn, nominate candidates for national and provincial assemblies. To keep things honest, voters in national elections have the option of rejecting every candidate on the ballot and calling for an entirely new slate of candidates — real power that US voters can only dream of.

  • A choice to start with. Cubans have no choice today.
    The Stalinist system denies them any choice.
    Even the highly unacceptable picture you paint would be an improvement.

  • Starting little wars is somehow more noble than engaging in big conflagrations? The innocent victims in the Congo would likely disagree. Besides, as we big ol’ bad imperialists say, “if you gotta go to war, go big, or stay home”.

  • Brazil? Well, you are entitled to your opinion. Not surprisingly, I heartily disagree.

  • Has Cuba dropped an atomic bomb, napalm or agent orange? Bombed Indochina a bigger quantity of explosives than of the entire WWII? Invaded another country to pillage their natural resources based on lies? Instigated coups? Sent drone attacks to kill at a distance? No? Then I have the right to talk about war-monguering.

  • A choice between ‘good cop’ right-wingers and ‘bad-cop’ right-wingers’? OK. I already told you that in 20 years here in Brazil we managed to build a more solid democratic process than that of the US in 200 years.

  • To some people anti-Castro is anti-Cuban.
    In reality “anti-Castro” is pro-Cuban. Defending the human rights of Cubans can hardly be “anti-Cuban”. Supporting the repression in Cuba most certainly is anti-Cuban.

  • As usual Dan Christensen is just trying to mislead people. Two senators heard what Raul said. I guess some people can’t accept that.

  • Cubaverdad isn’t even based in Miami. It is made up of Cubans and Europeans. Your ignorant attacks show what you are all about.

  • These “facts” of yours were rejected by the UN body that commissioned the report in question. And the author was immediately sacked.

  • This was no “UN assessment.” It was the work of one man. His report was rejected and he was sacked by the UN body that commissioned it.

  • He was a spy. Not even Amnesty International questions the charge. (They have, however, questioned the proceedings against the The Five.) Your senator Leahy is the only source for your outrageous claim. Deal with it, Paul.

  • US policy isn’t “anti-Cuban”. It is anti-Castro at worst.
    The Castro regime is the problem both for the Cuban people and the US government.
    You should be more concerned about human rights and democracy in Cuba.

  • What you post is propaganda.
    I post facts backed up with links to the data. The site you refer to is well documented and has ample links to credible sources (UN, …) to support what it says.
    In Cuba the regime controls all aspects. The regime controls the only party allowed, trade unions, … and other so-called representative organizations.
    The CDR ensure repression.
    In the US the government and the one party in power do not control everything. A lively and working opposition exists in the arena of democracy.
    Cuba knows no such free dialogue.

    The facts posted on the site are correct as the references show.

  • forget about Cubaverdad. Propagandd from mIami. Nothing more or less.Tell me: don`t the Us parties not control every aspect? Basically there`s no joice anyways, just between club of millobairs and club of millionairs. Let´s talk about reality, the Us- american way.

  • well if you call fighting for freedom wars yeah. While the Us have led about over a 200 wars of repression and opression worldwide. thats the difference

  • Lots of human rights organizations have called for the release of Alan Gross, Dan Christensen.

    Try and deny all you want, Dan Christensen, Raul denied the man was a spy.

    He can’t take his words back.

    It was no senator, but two senators, Dan Christensen.
    Raul let the cat out of the bag. You can’t put it back Dan Christensen.

    “Jailed American Jewish contractor Alan Gross “was no spy,” Cuban President Raul Castro agreed in a meeting with two visiting U.S. senators, Patrick Leahy and Richard Shelby.”

  • Biden should be more concerned about the unjust anti-Cuban policy of the administration. The misinformation spread about Cuba through media outlets, the buying of “dissidents” ant the anti-Cuban policies sheds doubts on the “democratic” future that the US markets for Cuba.

  • At least people have a choice.

    In Cuba they don’t have a choice.

    The UN’s assessment of the so called elections is correct:
    “the electoral process is so tightly controlled that the final phase, the voting itself, could be dispensed with without the final result being substantially affected”
    See: E/CN.4/1998/69

  • Luis I agree with you about the problems with todays electoral campaigns. But please don’t start talking about war-monguering because Cuba has participated in over 8 conflicts since the revolution. For a small country like Cuba that is pretty hefty so I’m sure they know a thing or two about violence.

  • No national government — other than, of course, the USA — has called for Gross’s release. Neither has Amnesty International. The international community simply isn’t buying into your line that he was in Cuba on some kind of “humanitarian” mission.

    Raul has never claimed that Gross wasn’t a spy. Your US senator — the only source for your outrageous claim — obviously got his wires crossed. The Cuban government has always called him a spy. By refusing to adopt him a “prisoner of conscience,” AI would seem to agree.

  • How about getting some balls and demand ‘democracy’ and ‘regime-change’ in China, Mr Biden? A coward bully, that’s what you are, Uncle Sam.

  • Your ideology is just disgusting. The way electoral campaigns are financed today goes against the democratic principle of equality between candidates… and you naturalize it by reducing politics with economy, and economy with accountancy!

    And ignoring the military-industrial complex as usual. You too forget ‘the records’ of the colonial wars of the 19th century and, of course, WWI and WWII. And the whole history of your war-monguering country. It’s just way too much violence that tiny little Cuba cannot fathom to compete with.

  • Alan Gross was in the end only “guilty” of having in his possession a chip he had to declare. Even Raul Castro has admitted he was no spy.

    More on his case:

  • I guess he means a system where everyone has a real chance of being a candidate and to be elected as such.

    The Cuiban regime controls all aspects of the electoral process in Cuba: from the selection of the candidates to the electoral process itself.

    The UN’s assessment of the so called elections is correct:
    “the electoral process is so tightly controlled that the final phase, the voting itself, could be dispensed with without the final result being substantially affected”
    See: E/CN.4/1998/69

    More on the Cuban electoral process:

  • Long live the Almighty, and only one Fidel Castro Cruz, and that is my story.
    Democracy, we are talking about democracy, how hypocrite can we be to talk about democracy.
    We have our own democracy in Cuba, why we have to have the phony, and fake democracy that we have in the U.S.
    The embargo is for the people.
    And now that is my real story.

  • Well said, Brien. In Cuba, elections are really a “no-party” system. No political parties are allowed to influence the outcome of a vote. By law, the Communist of Party of Cuba cannot nominate, finance or even endorse a candidate. It costs nothing to win even the highest office in the land. Candidates for public office are nominated either in open, public meetings in each neighbourhood, or by local assemblies who themselves were nominated in this way by their neighbours. To keep things honest in national elections, Cuban voters have the option of rejecting everyone on the ballot, thereby calling for a entirely new slate of candidates — real power that US voters can only dream of.

  • Just another false pretext for what amounts to genocide. If it wasn’t Alan Gross, it would be something else. The US regime isn’t interested in “improved relations.” They are only interested in Cuba’s complete and unconditional surrender.

  • The last thing the US regime wants is more democracy in Cuba. Under the terms of the Helms-Burton Act, it won’t matter what kind of elections they hold if the outcome doesn’t meet with the approval of extremists in Miami and Washington. Under the terms of Section 206, Cuba’s socialist system must be dismantled and the ownership and control of the means of production (land, infrastructure, etc.) returned to the private (read US corporate) sector. It wouldn’t matter that under its current socialist system, Cuba has built from scratch the best health care and education systems in the region despite over a century of genocidal US trade sanctions. Under the terms of HB, the Cuban people would have no say in the matter. How is that for commitment to “democracy?”

  • That’s funny! You want to see a ‘socialist’ US? How about an authentic socialist anywhere. It doesn’t exist, nor will it ever, except in the fantasy world of unrealistic and over-idealistic minds of people like you.

  • Brien, what do you care about campaign spending? It is private money being spent with union printers and restaurants and caterers and media outlets and consultants and all sorts of other job creating expenses. Elections in the US are good for the economy. Rich people spending their money with middle-class service providers. A two-party system is clearly far from the ideal, but it beats a one-party system hands down. All politicians make false promises and lie, even socialist dictators. That goes with the job. Socialist dictators create far more violent conflicts than democracies do. Check the record. Dictators just usually fight within their own country and against their own people.

  • What does he mean by “democracy”? A two-party system where as much as a billion is spent electing a US president? Where most of that money is spent polling and adjusting promises uttered only to get elected, with little attention to actually meeting the citizens’ needs?
    Democracy is defined through meeting people’s needs as opposed to lying to to get elected and then following the military/industrial agenda that spends most of the budget on pursuing wars all over our planet?

  • Ayaya, aprendera algo un dia EEUU? Quiere eso, y eso y eso. La misma cancion de siempre.Yo querria tambien ver a una s EEUU socialistas Sr. Biden, y que?

  • I am 100% in agreement with the VP’s comments regarding Cuban reforms. As Biden confirmed, Cuba must send Alan Gross home in order to reinvigorate discussions towards normalizing relations between the US and Cuba.

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