Cuba-US Take First Step To Normal Relations, More to Come

By Isaac Risco (dpa)

From a 1902 cigar box. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — The governments of Cuba and the United States will meet again in the coming weeks to continue working on details for resuming diplomatic relations, the negotiators said today after a first round of talks in Havana.

In their first encounter the diplomats were unable to establish a concrete roadmap for resuming the relations broken off in 1961. They hope a new round of negotiations, at a date yet to be determined, will lead to the reopening of embassies.

“There is no deadline yet defined,” said the chief negotiator for Cuba, Josefina Vidal. “We should get together soon. We have to agree on a date,” she noted.

“In the coming weeks we will exchange proposed dates for the next meeting,” said Vidal after the first encounter with the high level US delegation led by Roberta Jacobson, assistant secretary for Latin American affairs at the State Department.

Both Jacobson and Vidal, who heads the US Affairs desk at the Cuban Foreign Ministry, said they were unsure whether more encounters beyond a second round would be needed on the issue of opening embassies.

Both sides stressed that negotiations on Thursday took place in a “friendly” atmosphere.

“The first round of talks was a positive and constructive dialogue,” Jacobson said in her first appearance before the press since she arrived in Havana on Wednesday.

“We discussed real and concrete steps required for the restoration of diplomatic relations between our countries,” she added.

Jacobson also stressed that diplomatic normalization will be a “long and complex” process beyond the reopening of embassies.

“The restoration of relations and opening of embassies is only part of a broader process of the normalization of relations,” said Jacobson the highest government official in Washington to visit the Caribbean island since 1980.

In their appearance before the media, both parties also spoke on the sidelines of the “deep” differences between the two countries after decades of ideological rivalry.

The situation of human rights is of central interest to my government, said Jacobson. In answering a question she noted: “Yes we have differences on this issue, profound differences.” According to the US diplomat, her delegation addressed the issue at talks today. However Vidal denied it.

The Cuban side, however, emphasized that it expects new diplomatic relations to respect the “sovereign equality” and “national self-determination”.

“For Cuba this means reciprocal respect for the political, economic and social systems of both states and avoiding any form of interference in each other’s internal affairs,” Vidal said.

“Nobody should expect that to improve relations, Cuba will relinquish its principles,” she added. The government of Raul Castro has ruled out on several occasions political reforms in the one-party system that has governed the island for over half a century.

Washington and Havana simultaneously announced on December 17, 2014, a historic agreement to restore diplomatic relations after more than half a century of rupture and confrontation.

The high-ranking delegations from the two countries meet on Wednesday in a round of negotiations on migration issues, and then on Thursday to begin the process for establishing respective embassies.

10 thoughts on “Cuba-US Take First Step To Normal Relations, More to Come

  • January 25, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    A multi-party electoral system is absolutely no guarantee of a democratic government as is the case with the GOUSA.
    If the people are free to choose their own CANDIDATES and those candidates are responsive to their electorate once elected … is supposed to occur in a representative republic ( Cuba and U.S. )…. then party affiliation or no parties at all makes absolutely no difference to the electorate.
    Democracy means having the will of the majority expressed and acted upon by those whom they elect to represent them.
    This is not the case either in the U.S. or in Cuba.
    In Cuba they have one party that is those in power..
    In the USA , they also have one party allowed by those in power : the Capitalist Party which has two wings a Democratic center-right wing and a Republican right-center wing.
    You’ll never get to vote for anyone those in power in either system don’t want you to vote for.
    Again, U.S. foreign policy is about maintaining free-enterprise capitalism which is antithetical to democracy .
    And again , as Chief Justice Louis Brandeis once said; ” You can have free enterprise or you can have democracy but you can’t have both. “

  • January 25, 2015 at 10:37 am

    You should leave the quality of my bulb to those who know me. As to being entrenched in the past, my perspective is based in the fact that the leadership of Cuba has not changed in 56 years! Moreover, as Raul recently reiterated, the “hope” for the future is to remain in the past. You continue to gloss over the fact that your perspective is diametrically opposed by the Castro leadership. I take Raul at his word. He says there will be no change. Moreover, where has the “soft-sell” approach worked in the past? What totalitarian regime that has ever existed has ‘evolved’ into a democracy based on “peacefully fertilizing the garden” as you suggest? Your hope for Cuba is noble but not based in historical fact or the realities of the present. My hero, Frederick Douglass once said, “Power concedes nothing without demand”. No mention of peaceful fertilizing.

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