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 22, 2015 at 7:33 pm
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    I quote the report above:

    “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.”

    So much for the argument that some commenters here have made, that as soon as the US drops the embargo, “I’m sure Cuba will end it’s repressive practices and move toward democracy.”

    According to Raul, Cuba will remain a Communist dictatorship.

    Reply
    • January 25, 2015 at 2:21 pm
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      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 …..as 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 allowed.by 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. “

      Reply
  • January 23, 2015 at 12:54 am
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    I hope that commenters like Terry Downey, Dan, Walter Teague, Analyser, and Anti-Imperialist read your comment. Probably twice for the slow ones. It probably doesn’t matter if John Goodrich reads it or not. He will still hate male-dominated families.

    Reply
    • January 23, 2015 at 12:02 pm
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      And the problem is??? The embargo / Helms-Burton has not been repealed yet. I wouldn’t be talking about dramatic changes to my political system either until ALL US interventionist policies have been repealed, or at the very least, they are scheduled to be repealed. Chicken or the egg, gentlemen…chicken or the egg. Until the US shows a real commitment to actually end their tyrannical policies aimed at Cuba, there is no incentive for the Cuban government to explore and/or agree to change anything that has helped them survive the US war on Cuba for well over 5 decades. Only fully normalized relations can provide the incentive and opportunity for significant political change. The Cuban government has made it clear that they will not bend over to US demands. Nothing has changed. I’m amazed that you find this surprising…but then again, in your arrogant little world, I suppose Raul should get down on his knees and lick your boots. Thank God neither of you are on the US negotiating team.

      Reply
      • January 23, 2015 at 4:48 pm
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        Hahaha! You are incredible. Raul just said what he WON’T do, and you choose to interpret that as what he WILL do but just doesn’t want to talk about it yet.

        Reply
        • January 25, 2015 at 6:47 am
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          Moses, you’re absolutely bankrupt as to the future possibilities. There’s no hope for you, because you’re firmly entrenched in the past. You have a hard time even grasping the present, never mind the potential for the future…and the sad thing is…you seem to enjoy it that way and make no apologies. I’m sure you have a hard time thinking beyond your last chess move too. For all your intelligence, you’re still quite a dim bulb when it comes to understanding the ‘soft-sell’ approach…and the inevitable promotion, support, and potential for democracy in Cuba after relations have been fully normalized. The move to democracy has to be Cuba’s decision…not yours, and certainly not your government’s. Cuba does not respond to pressure…period! All your government should be doing is peacefully fertilizing the garden to allow the potential for democratic principles to take root in Cuba.

          Reply
          • January 25, 2015 at 10:37 am
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            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.

    • January 24, 2015 at 1:43 am
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      Patterson, you really are deluded or more simplistically brain washed into the BS and propaganda generated by Washington DC’s spin doctors.
      The US has egg on its face stretching back to good ole Dwight and JFK. The US got its rear end booted out and its response is to play infantile, spiteful games.
      Along with the US Government, your delusional beliefs that the US is doing Cuba a big favour is bordering on psychosis.
      Once again the so called super power flexes its tyrannical muscles inappropriately.
      Time to remove you US standard issue rose tinted spectacles Patterson et al.

      Reply
      • January 24, 2015 at 8:02 am
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        Hahaha! From “egg on its face” to “rose tinted spectacles”, your comment is full of clichés but no dates, facts or any thing else to sustain your position, which by the way has nothing to do with Raul’s comments and seems to focus on my brain and the US. And you call me delusional.

        Reply
  • January 24, 2015 at 5:11 pm
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    “Poor” Moses…diplomacy…at some level…dialogue with that dangerous little island to the South….that has never “caved in” to the “bullies” to the north….just eats his little heart out….pitty…..some of us SEE Cuba with it’s “flaws”…..the likes of Mr Moses ONLY sees One Big flaw….with no hope…my Cuban friends SEE the Flaws AND the hope

    Reply

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