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”

  • December 27, 2014 at 8:54 am

    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.

  • December 25, 2014 at 8:30 pm

    Stop the Embargo and the judge

  • December 25, 2014 at 8:29 pm

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

  • December 23, 2014 at 10:35 am

    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.

  • December 22, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    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.

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