Obama: “Change will come to Cuba”

By Beatriz Juez  (dpa)

Cartoon: progresoweekly.us

HAVANA TIMES — President Barack Obama said today he is confident that changes in Cuba will result from the new policy of his country towards the island and supports ending the embargo, but warned that this will not happen soon.

“Change will come to Cuba, it has to come,” Obama said in his year end press conference, two days after announcing the normalization of diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than half a century of rupture and ideological confrontation between Washington and Havana.

The US president said it is logical that there will be changes on the island because “they have an economy that does not work.” “They relied in the early years on the Soviet Union and after Venezuela. And these (subsidies) cannot be maintained.”

“It could happen fast or it could happen slower than I’d like, but it will happen,” said Obama, who believes that the new US policy toward Cuba will accelerate the process.

However, the president warned that these changes on the island “are not going to happen overnight.”

The president said he “shares the concerns of dissidents and human rights activists” of the island, because “this is still a regime that represses its people.”

Before going on vacation, Obama acknowledged that the policy of isolation on the island conducted by his predecessors has failed, noting that after more than half a century of imposing the embargo, the Castro brothers remain in power.

“If you’ve done the same thing for 50 years and nothing’s changed, you should try something different if you want a different outcome, and this gives us an opportunity for a different outcome,” said Obama.

The president predicted that process of change on the island will certainly have its snags but he is convinced that with the new US policy toward Cuba “we will have a better chance of achieving change than we would have had otherwise.”

Obama said it is too early to think about visiting Havana or Castro making a trip to Washington and hinted his desire to go the island in the future, suggesting that it would be after his term as president, which ends in two years.

“I think that ultimately we need to go ahead and pull down the embargo, which I think has been self-defeating in advancing the aims that we’re interested in,” Obama said. “But I don’t anticipate that that happens right away.”

The president acknowledged that Congress is divided over his new policy toward Cuba. “There are supporters and detractors in both parties of our new approach,” admitted the president, who was confident that Congress will hold “a healthy debate” on whether or not to lift the economic and commercial embargo on Cuba.

Obama will face stiff opposition in Congress, especially by the congress people and senators of Cuban origin. Senators Bob Menendez, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio oppose any concession to the Castro brothers, likewise representatives Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. All are of Cuban origin.

There is also resistance among part of the Cuban-American community in Florida, an important swing state in recent presidential elections.

On Wednesday, Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced the start of talks for the normalization of bilateral relations between the two countries, which were broken off since 1961. In addition, Havana freed USAID subcontractor Alan Gross on humanitarian grounds and both countries made a prisoner exchange including the US release of the remaining three imprisoned of the Cuban Five. Cuba released a CIA operative that had been in jail on the island for nearly two decades.

45 thoughts on “Obama: “Change will come to Cuba”

  • Cubans don’t “suffer” from the embargo. Cubans suffer from the Castros response to the embargo. If the embargo caused suffering all by itself, the Castros would have suffered too. Not so amazingly, the Castros and their elite have managed to avoid its effects. They simply decided to use the embargo as the excuse for their mistakes. Most Cubans know this.

  • Stop the Embargo and the judge

  • My family has been suffering the Embargo for 50 years but they know who to blame. USA/Cuba Embargo=Terrorism American Style

  • The reality is more complicated than that, Dan.

    Cuba was prosperous, but the wealth was unequally shared. There was a small, very wealthy elite. Then there was a growing middle-class, about 1/3 of the population. These were teachers, engineers, shop & restaurant owners, & etc. Their income and standard of living was rising quickly in post-war Cuba.

    There were small land owning farmers who, while not wealthy, did live comfortably. The urban working class had active, independent unions and were better paid than any other workers in Latin America. The main Cuban trade union invested in and helped build the Habana Libre Hotel in the 1950’s, as an investment for their member’s pensions. The Revolution later confiscated it from the union.

    There were also rural poor, not a majority, but a significant minority at about 1/3rd of the total Cuban population, who lived in miserable conditions. They benefited from the Revolution and became it’s most fervent supporters.

  • No? Please avail yourself of UN statistics on education and wealth pre 1959. The vibrant Cuban culture that existed prior to Castro was destroyed. That culture is now, for the mist part, destroyed. At lease the diaspora was able to salvage somethings including traditional Cuban cuisine. What a shame that if you want authentic Cuban food you won’t be able to find it in Cuba.

    I know it doesn’t fit in with your world view. I suggest you speak with Cubans about the reality.

  • It was so good that my family and I took the first opportunity to leave. And those that continue to risk their lives to escape speak much more eloquently than I

  • Cubans DO NOT have the best education nor the best medical care in the world. The Japanese and the Danes would vigorously beg to differ. In very practical terms, when Cuban professionals relocate to other “first world” countries, the defects in their basic training and education is revealed. For a poor third world country, they are among the best-trained, but when you put a Cuban engineer up against a German engineer, or a Cuban doctor alongside an American doctor or a Cuban-trained chemist side-by-side with an British chemist, the Cuban comes up short. Don’t believe the hype.

  • You obviously no nothing about Chile, Mexico or Colombia. The “general public” is far better off than their fellow Cubans.

  • The Castros have no wealth? So how did their corporation Rafin SA (RAul and FIdel) purchase a 27% stake in ETECSA, the Cuban telecommunications corporation from Telecom Italia SpA for $706 million in January of 2011?

  • Cuba’s economy works even less for poor folks. Fidel said so himself in remarks on September 8, 2010 when he said, “The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore”. You should do your research before posting.

  • In 1959 Under-Secretary of State Thomas Mallory laid out the proposition that to overthrow the Cuban revolution short of an outright military invasion, it would be necessary to impoverish all the Cuban people to such an extent that they would overthrow their own revolution.
    This historical and factual info is readily available online and if you don’t know about it, you cannot begin to understand what the embargo is all about and it is NOT democracy.
    Mallory’s ideas were soon placed into effect with the embargo which since then has had its initial purpose work in impoverishing the entire population of Cuba but failed in the aim of having the people reject their revolution to go back to capitalism .
    But of course, to enemies of the revolution, the shape of the Cuban economy is all Fidel’s fault.
    If they do end the embargo and Cuba is relieved of the ongoing and now trillion dollar cost of the embargo on this tiny economy , it will be only then we will know the truth about who is to blame for poverty in Cuba.
    …..And. more importantly to me at least, whether (democratic) socialism is truly what the government and Communist Party of Cuba want for Cuba.

  • The U.S. is not interested in establishing democratic institutions in Cuba.
    It wants to reinstall capitalism . PERIOD.
    The USG has a 100 year history of enforcing capitalism upon weaker countries beginning with the U.S/European invasion of the nascent Soviet Union in 1918 to overthrow what it considered a communist/socialist threat that never eventuated.in that country.
    The USG also has a history of supporting any and all dictatorial systems that supported capitalism and opposed democracy.
    You need read only two books -or read the contents of the two eponymous websites : “Killing Hope” and “Rogue State” to know and understand this history.
    In short, you have a serious misunderstanding of actual U.S.G. intentions in the world and who actually owns and runs the government of the USA .
    Do please visit and the suggested websites and for a antidote to the bullshit of the U.S. corporate media whose thinking you reflect, visit ZNet and read the newly reprinted articles daily .
    And by all means, when you’ve read some of this, come back and show me where they or I am wrong.
    There is nothing I look for more than to be PROVEN wrong and you would do me a service if you can do so. .

  • Once prosperous ? Don’t believe it. It was prosperous for a small elite. The majority lived with parasites and illiteracy.

  • Change will come to each and every country, each and every man and woman and each and every day of our lives, what is your point Mr. President?

  • Why swallow hard and accept this policy? I think you should put a billboard round your neck and picket the Whitehouse for a month as you promised.

  • i have been to cuba several times and the general public is better off than anywhere in latin america. all children in school, no street children, lots of cultural activities, more people in private business, no gun violence, no strip clubs. many get assistance from relatives abroad and things are getting better all the time.

  • How’s this for change?

    “Cuba’s Coast Guard sinks boat carrying 32 refugees who were trying to reach Fla.”

    “We were screaming and crying for help as the boat was sinking. But they ignored us. Instead, they continued charging against our boat. Some people dove in the water and others stayed aboard as the boat sank,” the Miami Herald reported Gonzalez, who was contacted during a press conference hosted in Miami by the Democracy Movement, as saying. “They knew there were children aboard, but continued to charge against us. They didn’t care.”

    González said the boat was carrying 32 people, including seven women and two children, onwe of which was her eight-year-old son. After being hit on Tuesday morning, the Cuban Coast Guard rescued most of the survivors, who were then locked up by the State Security in Versailles, Matanzas.”

    Sounds like business as usual for the Castro regime.


  • I agree.
    Cuba does not need the US.
    Cuba needs foreign Capital investment.
    Is anybody willing to invest without fair rules and laws regulating those investments; will they be willing to invest knowing that at a given moment, arbitrarily, their property could be confiscated and called exploiters, greedy or else criminals?
    Without the incentive of a decent return on investment (quite possible without resorting to bribes, corruption of slave wages) who will be willing to invest in Cuba.
    Will foreign companies be allowed to hire Cuban workers directly or thru a Government that arbitrarily may decide that these lucky workers are making to much money ?
    Will there be a Free Press capable of exposing corruption at whatever level may be present. ?
    Will the Cuban Government allowed for Labor Unions, Civil Societies, etc
    After all, Cuba has announced they will not change any aspects of their so called system. Until some of the changes mentioned above, and other I am not capable of foresee, the Cuban people will continue to have the best education in the world without the benefit to improve their lives, and have the best Medical care in the world to live longer that everybody else in the same substandard conditions.
    The embargo is indefensible, lifting the embargo and keeping the Cuban people deprived of their Rights is perverse.

  • The revolution certainly didn’t benefit the Cuban people.

    Don’t lecture a Cuban who lived the reality of your fantasy because if there’s one thing Cubans on the island despise it’s the idealistic fool who visits knowing full well he can leave whenever he likes.

  • Don’t lecture a Cuban who lived the reality of fantasy

  • I spent 10 years in Cuba dont tell me about who the Revolution benefited. USA/Cuba Embargo=Terrorism American Style.

  • It’s true that income is more equally dustributed in Cuba. ….There’s almost no income and everyone is equally impoverished. As for the Castros themselves, it’s no secret that they and the military oligarchy controll key sectors of the economy including the income generated.

  • Has Canada ever seized the property of US citizens without compensation? No. Why not? Because that would be a stupid policy. The Cuban a Revolution seized US owned property without commendation. They have paid the price for that unwise policy ever since.

  • The U.S. embargo was imposed in response to the Cuban government seizing property of US citizens without compensation. Mao seized US propert n China ( much less than that in Cuba) and the US imposed an embargo on China. Eventually, China provided compensation, the US dropped the embarg, and trade resumed. Saudi Arabia has neve seized US property. Therefore, no sanctions. It’s nothng personal, it’s just business.

    Over the years, concerns about human rights and democracy were added to the reasons for the embargo. That was an ethical improvement.

    But if you are waiting for consistency in government policy, you will wait a very long time. Your government policy is based on a variety of reasons, some good, some not. You have to decide if t is a good, and effective, policy in the end. Whatever the valid reasons for the US embargo, it has not been effective. So will this new direction be effective?

  • For a serious and scholarly look at the history of Cuba and what U.S. foreign policy is really about I would recommend both this article by Noam Chomsky https://zcomm.org/zcommentary/obamas-historic-move/
    and any of the other commentary at ZNet on Cuba.
    I would invite everyone to compare what Chomsky writes with what you might have believed up until now and I challenge anyone to find any errors of fact in the article.

    Secondly Cuba has a STATE CAPITALIST economy.

    It is NOT socialist.

    It is NOT communist.

    Both socialism and communism, by definition, require a worker-led society and Cuba is led from the top by the elected government and the Cuban Communist Party and therefore cannot be defined as a socialist nation.

    In capitalism the workers are given what the bosses, the owners of their company decide to pay them

    Under Cuba’s state capitalism the government and the Party decide- and again., like capitalism, UNDEMOCRATICALLY from the top what the workers will get and how they will work.

    Communist Cuba is an invention of the corporate media and the State Department . It does not exist .

    That said, REAL communism, real socialism is indeed the biggest fear of the people who own and run the government if the USA because despite the rhetoric the USA has rarely if ever supported a democratic movement .

    It HAS intervened some 60 times since the end of WWII against democratic and humanitarian movements .

    Just think seriously about it for a moment: capitalism is totalitarianism/dictatorship anti-democracy embodied. .

    Your boss IS an absolute dictator .

    It matters little if your boss is a Koch brother or the government.

    You have no say in how things will go .

    The U.S. has been a force against democracy for well over 100 years and has been most expert in creating the myths of doing good in the world that only the most uneducated, ill-informed and disinformed people can believe.

    Check out the Killing Hope and Rogue State websites for all the proof you might want on this .

    I will not respond to the replies of the usual cast of clowns .

  • Where would Canada be if we could not sell to the USA ? Just think – every home in Cuba is fully paid for and the private – corate – government is very low compared to the USA.

  • Cuba needs some FREEDOM!!!

  • Generally, good news for Cuba. Very exciting stuff. For starters, there will be millions more tourists, many, many more tourist jobs with much better pay. There will be a building boom, hotels, resorts, infrastructure, more jobs still. In terms of foreign relations, Cuban government will have more cards to play with both for friends and foe. With enemies inside, you need closer friendship. Europeans, Chinese, other countries will fight with the US for investment opportunities, US will not dominate, as some here wrongly feared. Cuban government is smart, it will have more funds to diversify its economy.
    The biggest losers are those who fled and still have hatred for the government. If they are smart, they should start kissing government ass, because their little remittance will mean close to nothing pretty soon, and they will need to develop relations with government (officials), if they want to be of any use.
    I read from Chinese media, that earlier this year, Cuban government sent a US relations expert to China to discuss/exchange/learn how to deal with the US. (Can anyone verify that?) Generally, the Chinese are very happy about this US Cuba deal. I can see why.
    I wish the best for Cuban people, and its government.

  • Before commenting, I wish to say thank you for a very excellently written article, of the kind that we seldom see today. In the end, this move by Obama will prove good for everyone and that is what it is all about. Even the die hard haters, who suffered the most would like to see their home land whole again and thriving. From a personal point of view, it is hard to imagine how a tiny Island like this could have succeeded, being isolated from the world and dependent on benefactors that are unable to sustain their own populations. I am not saying this because I am against Cuba or Castro, for that matter, I am just saying that when you play the same hand of cards over and over and it never wins, it is time to shuffle the deck. The fact that Mr. Obama and Raul Castro are willing to do that seems to be a historic moment and the promise of good things to come. The only caveat is our own Congress, which has been permanently on vacation and is not expected to come back any time soon, so the relaxation of the embargo will not be under the tree, this year, for sure.

  • the castro brothers are not wealthy and have no overseas bank accounts. the income in cuba is much more equally shared than in the US. private business is expanding and the US can contribute to this with the end of the embargo. and cuba is much more democratic than our good friend saudi arabia where women cannot drive or be outside without a male relative.

  • We’ll obviously Cuba doesn’t agree with you. And besides if Cuba does not need the US why worry about the embargo? Oh yeah that’s right, they need the US

  • Castro took a once prosperous country and turned it into a beggar nation. The Cuban revolution was obviously not for the Cuban people. Only the Castros benefited. The disaster that is the Cuban revolution has a list of failures so long they can’t all be written down in this short post. …I mean how can Cuba have less head of cattle now that in 1959!! Really!!!

  • Best thing for Cuba would be to overthrow Castro and cede to the US as a territory like PR; getting all the benefits of US support; including military, tourism and trade. Case closed.

    I believe it was Marx that said; “you can tax people 100% of their income as long as you give them what they need to live”
    Really……….Who is to say what they need; and who is to say that there is only one class of people? Only Commies do this.
    The rich are the Government and the poor are everyone else.
    I bet a Doctor there doesn’t make as much as a sanitation worker in NYC.


  • You are probably not Cuban to say such a ridiculous thing. The Port of Mariel will remain a ghost town until the US embargo is lifted. American tourism is projected to nearly double the number of foreign tourists who visit the island. You are poorly informed.

  • The US embargo is a far cry from war. Go to YouTube and take a look at what Bashar Al-Assad is doing to his own people in Syria. Take a look at what Russian-supported rebels are doing to eastern Ukraine. Look at the ISIL terrorists and their destruction in northern Iraq. This is what war looks like. I don’t blame the Cuban people for anything. My wife and her family have been the victim of 55 years of Castro tyranny. I blame the Castros for all that ails Cuba, no one else.

  • FREE? Right, everything under communism is free as long as they steal your money and property to pay for it. The government threw out the mafia because they were stealing their stolen property. Oblome gets a free cigar and destroys America for it,then his wife who is actually a man tells everyone how bad smoking is for them. She can’t control him but wants to tell all of America to stop smoking and what to eat. Everything Obummer has done has been a flop. Liberals are all insane.

  • At a 95% income tax rate, education and health care is hardly free. What was that about “good housing”? If by good you mean the kind that crumbles and collapses when the sun comes out after the rains, then yes, the housing is very good. At least those homes still standing. Oh yea, about that land reform. Cuba imports 80% of the food they consume. How is that land reform working out?

  • USA/Cuba embargo is an act of war meant to make the Cubans poor. So Moses are you the person to blame a battered wife for her bruises? The Cuban Revolution was not for the banksters!

  • Cuba does not need America. Cuba does not need American tourists. Cuba does not need to come to the USA. Cuba needs the big bully USA to stop punishing the world for doing business with Cuba. Stop penalizing banks, shipping companies, and businesses that want normal trade with Cuba. Cuba can do just fine ..actually great without USA …just stop the embargo ..stop the bullying.

  • the Embargo is an act of war geniusInformed, look into it. Dont bully Cuba!

  • One of the few times I agree with you Moses. You’re a very thoughtful and
    brilliant writer and i read your replies often. Glad you’re on board.

  • The Cuban people deserve a better future. Our policy of trying to hurt the Castro regime hasn’t accomplished anything, except to isolate the people of Cuba themselves. After more than 50 years of this ridiculous attempt to force democracy upon a country that may or may not want it, the Castros are still in power. Democracy isn’t something we can force on the world. Only the Cuban people can decide if they want democracy, and must fight for it on their own. Let me ask you this: Why do we have friendly relations with China? Why do we have friendly relations with Saudi Arabia? Why do we have friendly relations with these countries that have atrocious human rights records, yet have this kind of policy toward our close neighbor Cuba? Simple. Cuba offers us very little in terms of resources. It doesn’t fit the American policy of “show me the money”. It’s easy to isolate a tiny country like Cuba, which can do little or nothing in response. But if we truly cared about human rights, we would also be standing up to brutal regimes such as China and Saudi Arabia. Instead, their leaders dine in the White House, while the Cuban people pay for the policies of their leaders. I applaud our President for taking action in this matter. It is long overdue.

  • Cuba’s such a wonderful place. What was I thinking when I fled. I just love all you armchair Bolsheviks,. You’ve no idea what you’re talking about

  • Cuba’s economy does “not work” for the rich and the banksters!

    The Cuban revolutionaries threw out the mafia. They carried out a land reform in the countryside, eliminated illiteracy, built good housing, built a free educational system where the children of the working class and peasants — of any color — can study to become doctors. What kind of dictatorship makes its first priority to teach everyone to read. Compare Mississippi! Compare Haiti!

    The Cuban people have a system of free health care that is not controlled by monopoly capitalist insurance and drug companies.

  • Not the strategy I would have chosen, but especially after listening to President Obama in his press conference today, I believe he made a thoughtful decision. I believe President Obama wants to see the Castros out of power and democracy in Cuba. That is what I want too. So, I am swallowing hard and accepting this new strategy. At least in the short term, I would hope that the Castros go easy on their repressive tactics. The world press is paying a little closer attention these days to what goes on in the streets in Cuba. Supposedly the Castros have released or will release 50+ political prisoners. Let’s hope it takes at least a month before they re-arrest these people or others to replace them. Like Obama, I hope the embargo is lifted soon as well. Lifting it means the Castros are gone, multiparty elections are scheduled, an independent press is legal and the economy is market-oriented. These are all good things for the Cuban people. I expect the masters of propaganda Castros to take a few victory laps. But it doesn’t matter really. Toilet paper is still a luxury in Cuba every once in a while and everyone knows not to walk under balconies after the rain. Life, especially the worst aspects of it in Cuba, will stay the same for quite a while longer no matter how much they crow about victory, blah, blah, blah.

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