by Café Fuerte

Anthony-J-BlinkenHAVANA TIMES — One of the closest foreign policy advisers in the White House said Wednesday that President Barack Obama will not take executive action to ease the embargo on Cuba. He noted that any change of policy towards the island depends on the regime of Raul Castro showing “significant changes”.

“Unless Cuba is able to demonstrate that it is taking significant steps, I don’t know how we could move forward in our relationship,” said Antony J. Blinken, deputy national security adviser, during a hearing in the US Senate.

Blinken appeared before the Senate to testify at his first confirmation hearing for the post of Assistant Secretary of State, nominated by Obama. After his introduction he answered the questions in a session chaired by the Cuban Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Marco Rubio asked for clarification

And near the end of the two-hour hearing, Senator Marco Rubio took his turn to interrogate Blinken about his opinions about the situation in Venezuela, the crossroads of the negotiations between the government and the FARC in Colombia, and Cuba.

Regarding Cuba, Rubio called for clarification on recent reports that over the next two years of his presidency, Obama could issue executive measures on Cuba to remove barriers of the embargo and promote the normalization of relations with the Castro regime.

Rumors about that possibility have increased in recent weeks following a barrage of editorials from The New York Times asking the administration to renew its policy toward the island.

Blinken denied it and said that such a policy change is not foreseeable in the midst of the attitude of the Cuban regime to maintain prisoner the US contractor Alan Gross, sentenced to 15 years in prison.

“Anything you could do in Cuba should be consistent with the law and secondly, everything in the future should be done in full consultation with Congress,” the official said.

In the wrong direction

Blinken maintained that the Cuban government has been moving in the wrong direction, increasing political arrests and keeping in prison Alan Gross, whose unjust incarceration remains an obstacle to the normalization of relations.

Blinken said the president has ideas on how to promote the democratization of Cuba and on how to prepare the Cuban people for future changes. He said that if an opportunity arises to move in that direction “he may take advantage of it.”

“But that depends on Cuba and the actions it takes,” he noted.

Rubio insisted that the types of changes in Cuba sought by the Obama administration should not only be in the economic sector.

Democratic reforms

Blinken said that any progress in the bilateral relationship will be determined by “democratic reforms, not simply by economic reforms.”

At the end of the session, Menendez spoke to suggest that Washington should not accept that Cuba attends the Summit of the Americas in Panama in April 2015. He further recalled the recent position of the Cuban regime in opposition to a UN resolution to sanction North Korea, backed by the vast majority of the international community.

Menendez also recalled that Havana insists on the release of three Cuban spies in US prisons in exchange for the release of Alan Gross, when they are very different cases. He also mentioned the name of Ana Belen Montes, a former Pentagon official sentenced to 25 years, as part of the long arm of Cuban espionage on US soil.

Blinken is expected to be confirmed for the position in the State Department before the congressional end of the year recess.

Watch Obama adviser Antony J.Blinken’s responses to questions on Venezuela, Colombia and Cuba:

35 thoughts on “Obama Firm on Cuba Policy, says adviser

  • “|There is no value in having the same argument over and over with people who absolutely refuse to look at the evidence that is presented to them.”
    Quite right Mr. Goodrich!
    To you “evidence” is regurgitated Chomsky and the egg headed opinions of academics safely esconced in their ivory towers and with no actual experience of the reality of life in communist states.To me evidence is that which I or relatives have witnessed.
    But I suppose that I would be churlish if I did not acknowledge your responding to my observations which I guess implies that I am not included in those whom you deem unintelligent. The merit of such recognition by you is however of dubious value.

  • “Institutions of higher learning” are not monolithic ideological factories. There are academics who teach your favourite definitions of Communism and socialism, and there are other academics who teach other interpretations and definitions. That’s a fact you will just have to accept.

    You last paragraph:

    “There is no value in having the same argument over and over with people who absolutely refuse to look at the evidence that is presented to them.”

    You really, really need to read that out loud to yourself a couple dozen times. It’s about you.

  • A very long post written evidently to prove that you do not know what communism is and prefer to take the word of state capitalists like Stalin, the Castros, the Vietnamese , Koreans etc (but only in this instance) as to what communism is.
    To requote/paraphrase Noam Chomsky “…if socialism (communism) are described accurately that description MUST include a bottom-up, democratically- run means of production run by the workers and not a boss, political dictator or manager as they are in capitalism US style and state capitalism as in those countries you accept as socialist or communist.
    You and the other anti-revolutionaries MUST accept the word of Stalin in order to maintain your position as to the true nature of socialism and communism and anarchism for that matter.
    You are entitled to your own opinions but you are not entitled to define philosophies and economic systems that already have definitions taught in institutions of higher learning .
    You are not entitled to your own “facts”
    I recognize the futility of explaining fact to those who refuse to look at it or accept it.
    There is no value in having the same argument over and over with people who absolutely refuse to look at the evidence that is presented to them.

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