Obama Has Faith in the Cuban People

By Beatrice Pignatelli

US president Barack Obama speaking to the Cuban people on Tuesday March 22, from the Havana Grand Theater.
US president Barack Obama speaking to the Cuban people on Tuesday March 22, from the Havana Grand Theater.

HAVANA TIMES — US president Barack Obama addressed the Cuban people from the Havana Grand Theater on Tuesday morning promising a new chapter in the history of both nations.

Obama spoke of the profound differences between the Cuban and US political and economic systems, recognizing the necessity to bury “the last remnants of the cold war” and abandon the former isolating attitude of the US towards Cuba – which simply has not worked.

Obama confirmed once more his efforts to call on Congress to “lift the embargo”, one of many statements that received a prolonged applause in the 1500-seated theater, referring to the policy as an “outdated burden on the Cuban people”.  Obama also spoke positively of the values of the Cuban educational and health care system, stating the contributions that Cuban doctors have made across the world.

However, the applause became more subdued when Obama touched on the thorny topics of “freedom of speech”, stating that even if the embargo was lifted, the full “potential” of the Cuban people would not be reached before real change took place within Cuban society.

In order to achieve this change Obama pointed to the Cuban people stating in Spanish: “Yo creo en el pueblo cubano”. “I believe in the Cuban people”. He highlighted the importance of the role to be played by the younger generation of Cubans to shape the future of democracy, freedom of speech, and to find solutions for problems such as the dual currency system.

Obama used the United States as an example of democracy, having an African American President who may be passing on the presidency to a female, Cuban or socialist candidate. The President urged the Castros not to fear “democracy” but rather embrace it as it allows social evolution.

Weaving in cultural references from Cuban national hero Jose Marti and personal stories of the Cuban people, the speech was weighted with, as journalist Gregory Korte noted, “a century of historical baggage”.

Obama spoke out to Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits, to families that have been separated for years and to the individual pain and suffering that has been caused by decades of political conflict between Cuba and the U.S. He added that the two countries were “like two brothers who have been estranged for many years, even though we share the same blood.”

However, Obama finished his speech with optimism and hope, delivering the closing line: “Si se puede” – yes we can.

Watch Obama’s speech to the Cuban People on March 22, 2016.

Remarks by President Obama to the People of Cuba

Gran Teatro de la Habana
Havana, Cuba

10:10 A.M. CST

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) Muchas gracias. Thank you so much. Thank you very much.

President Castro, the people of Cuba, thank you so much for the warm welcome that I have received, that my family have received, and that our delegation has received. It is an extraordinary honor to be here today.

Before I begin, please indulge me. I want to comment on the terrorist attacks that have taken place in Brussels. The thoughts and the prayers of the American people are with the people of Belgium. We stand in solidarity with them in condemning these outrageous attacks against innocent people. We will do whatever is necessary to support our friend and ally, Belgium, in bringing to justice those who are responsible. And this is yet another reminder that the world must unite, we must be together, regardless of nationality, or race, or faith, in fighting against the scourge of terrorism. We can — and will — defeat those who threaten the safety and security of people all around the world.

To the government and the people of Cuba, I want to thank you for the kindness that you’ve shown to me and Michelle, Malia, Sasha, my mother-in-law, Marian.

“Cultivo una rosa blanca.” (Applause.) In his most famous poem, Jose Marti made this offering of friendship and peace to both his friend and his enemy. Today, as the President of the United States of America, I offer the Cuban people el saludo de paz. (Applause.)

Havana is only 90 miles from Florida, but to get here we had to travel a great distance — over barriers of history and ideology; barriers of pain and separation. The blue waters beneath Air Force One once carried American battleships to this island — to liberate, but also to exert control over Cuba. Those waters also carried generations of Cuban revolutionaries to the United States, where they built support for their cause. And that short distance has been crossed by hundreds of thousands of Cuban exiles — on planes and makeshift rafts — who came to America in pursuit of freedom and opportunity, sometimes leaving behind everything they owned and every person that they loved.

Like so many people in both of our countries, my lifetime has spanned a time of isolation between us. The Cuban Revolution took place the same year that my father came to the United States from Kenya. The Bay of Pigs took place the year that I was born. The next year, the entire world held its breath, watching our two countries, as humanity came as close as we ever have to the horror of nuclear war. As the decades rolled by, our governments settled into a seemingly endless confrontation, fighting battles through proxies. In a world that remade itself time and again, one constant was the conflict between the United States and Cuba.

I have come here to bury the last remnant of the Cold War in the Americas. (Applause.) I have come here to extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people. (Applause.)

I want to be clear: The differences between our governments over these many years are real and they are important. I’m sure President Castro would say the same thing — I know, because I’ve heard him address those differences at length. But before I discuss those issues, we also need to recognize how much we share. Because in many ways, the United States and Cuba are like two brothers who’ve been estranged for many years, even as we share the same blood.

We both live in a new world, colonized by Europeans. Cuba, like the United States, was built in part by slaves brought here from Africa. Like the United States, the Cuban people can trace their heritage to both slaves and slave-owners. We’ve welcomed both immigrants who came a great distance to start new lives in the Americas.

Over the years, our cultures have blended together. Dr. Carlos Finlay’s work in Cuba paved the way for generations of doctors, including Walter Reed, who drew on Dr. Finlay’s work to help combat Yellow Fever. Just as Marti wrote some of his most famous words in New York, Ernest Hemingway made a home in Cuba, and found inspiration in the waters of these shores. We share a national past-time — La Pelota — and later today our players will compete on the same Havana field that Jackie Robinson played on before he made his Major League debut. (Applause.) And it’s said that our greatest boxer, Muhammad Ali, once paid tribute to a Cuban that he could never fight — saying that he would only be able to reach a draw with the great Cuban, Teofilo Stevenson. (Applause.)

So even as our governments became adversaries, our people continued to share these common passions, particularly as so many Cubans came to America. In Miami or Havana, you can find places to dance the Cha-Cha-Cha or the Salsa, and eat ropa vieja. People in both of our countries have sung along with Celia Cruz or Gloria Estefan, and now listen to reggaeton or Pitbull. (Laughter.) Millions of our people share a common religion — a faith that I paid tribute to at the Shrine of our Lady of Charity in Miami, a peace that Cubans find in La Cachita.

For all of our differences, the Cuban and American people share common values in their own lives. A sense of patriotism and a sense of pride — a lot of pride. A profound love of family. A passion for our children, a commitment to their education. And that’s why I believe our grandchildren will look back on this period of isolation as an aberration, as just one chapter in a longer story of family and of friendship.

But we cannot, and should not, ignore the very real differences that we have — about how we organize our governments, our economies, and our societies. Cuba has a one-party system; the United States is a multi-party democracy. Cuba has a socialist economic model; the United States is an open market. Cuba has emphasized the role and rights of the state; the United States is founded upon the rights of the individual.

Despite these differences, on December 17th 2014, President Castro and I announced that the United States and Cuba would begin a process to normalize relations between our countries. (Applause.) Since then, we have established diplomatic relations and opened embassies. We’ve begun initiatives to cooperate on health and agriculture, education and law enforcement. We’ve reached agreements to restore direct flights and mail service. We’ve expanded commercial ties, and increased the capacity of Americans to travel and do business in Cuba.

And these changes have been welcomed, even though there are still opponents to these policies. But still, many people on both sides of this debate have asked: Why now? Why now?

There is one simple answer: What the United States was doing was not working. We have to have the courage to acknowledge that truth. A policy of isolation designed for the Cold War made little sense in the 21st century. The embargo was only hurting the Cuban people instead of helping them. And I’ve always believed in what Martin Luther King, Jr. called “the fierce urgency of now” — we should not fear change, we should embrace it. (Applause.)

That leads me to a bigger and more important reason for these changes: Creo en el pueblo Cubano. I believe in the Cuban people. (Applause.) This is not just a policy of normalizing relations with the Cuban government. The United States of America is normalizing relations with the Cuban people. (Applause.)

And today, I want to share with you my vision of what our future can be. I want the Cuban people — especially the young people — to understand why I believe that you should look to the future with hope; not the false promise which insists that things are better than they really are, or the blind optimism that says all your problems can go away tomorrow. Hope that is rooted in the future that you can choose and that you can shape, and that you can build for your country.

I’m hopeful because I believe that the Cuban people are as innovative as any people in the world.

In a global economy, powered by ideas and information, a country’s greatest asset is its people. In the United States, we have a clear monument to what the Cuban people can build: it’s called Miami. Here in Havana, we see that same talent in cuentapropistas, cooperatives and old cars that still run. El Cubano inventa del aire. (Applause.)

Cuba has an extraordinary resource — a system of education which values every boy and every girl. (Applause.) And in recent years, the Cuban government has begun to open up to the world, and to open up more space for that talent to thrive. In just a few years, we’ve seen how cuentapropistas can succeed while sustaining a distinctly Cuban spirit. Being self-employed is not about becoming more like America, it’s about being yourself.

Look at Sandra Lidice Aldama, who chose to start a small business. Cubans, she said, can “innovate and adapt without losing our identity…our secret is in not copying or imitating but simply being ourselves.”

Look at Papito Valladeres, a barber, whose success allowed him to improve conditions in his neighborhood. “I realize I’m not going to solve all of the world’s problems,” he said. “But if I can solve problems in the little piece of the world where I live, it can ripple across Havana.”

That’s where hope begins — with the ability to earn your own living, and to build something you can be proud of. That’s why our policies focus on supporting Cubans, instead of hurting them. That’s why we got rid of limits on remittances — so ordinary Cubans have more resources. That’s why we’re encouraging travel — which will build bridges between our people, and bring more revenue to those Cuban small businesses. That’s why we’ve opened up space for commerce and exchanges — so that Americans and Cubans can work together to find cures for diseases, and create jobs, and open the door to more opportunity for the Cuban people.

As President of the United States, I’ve called on our Congress to lift the embargo. (Applause.) It is an outdated burden on the Cuban people. It’s a burden on the Americans who want to work and do business or invest here in Cuba. It’s time to lift the embargo. But even if we lifted the embargo tomorrow, Cubans would not realize their potential without continued change here in Cuba. (Applause.) It should be easier to open a business here in Cuba. A worker should be able to get a job directly with companies who invest here in Cuba. Two currencies shouldn’t separate the type of salaries that Cubans can earn. The Internet should be available across the island, so that Cubans can connect to the wider world — (applause) — and to one of the greatest engines of growth in human history.

There’s no limitation from the United States on the ability of Cuba to take these steps. It’s up to you. And I can tell you as a friend that sustainable prosperity in the 21st century depends upon education, health care, and environmental protection. But it also depends on the free and open exchange of ideas. If you can’t access information online, if you cannot be exposed to different points of view, you will not reach your full potential. And over time, the youth will lose hope.

I know these issues are sensitive, especially coming from an American President. Before 1959, some Americans saw Cuba as something to exploit, ignored poverty, enabled corruption. And since 1959, we’ve been shadow-boxers in this battle of geopolitics and personalities. I know the history, but I refuse to be trapped by it. (Applause.)

I’ve made it clear that the United States has neither the capacity, nor the intention to impose change on Cuba. What changes come will depend upon the Cuban people. We will not impose our political or economic system on you. We recognize that every country, every people, must chart its own course and shape its own model. But having removed the shadow of history from our relationship, I must speak honestly about the things that I believe — the things that we, as Americans, believe. As Marti said, “Liberty is the right of every man to be honest, to think and to speak without hypocrisy.”

So let me tell you what I believe. I can’t force you to agree, but you should know what I think. I believe that every person should be equal under the law. (Applause.) Every child deserves the dignity that comes with education, and health care and food on the table and a roof over their heads. (Applause.) I believe citizens should be free to speak their mind without fear — (applause) — to organize, and to criticize their government, and to protest peacefully, and that the rule of law should not include arbitrary detentions of people who exercise those rights. (Applause.) I believe that every person should have the freedom to practice their faith peacefully and publicly. (Applause.) And, yes, I believe voters should be able to choose their governments in free and democratic elections. (Applause.)

Not everybody agrees with me on this. Not everybody agrees with the American people on this. But I believe those human rights are universal. (Applause.) I believe they are the rights of the American people, the Cuban people, and people around the world.

Now, there’s no secret that our governments disagree on many of these issues. I’ve had frank conversations with President Castro. For many years, he has pointed out the flaws in the American system — economic inequality; the death penalty; racial discrimination; wars abroad. That’s just a sample. He has a much longer list. (Laughter.) But here’s what the Cuban people need to understand: I welcome this open debate and dialogue. It’s good. It’s healthy. I’m not afraid of it.

We do have too much money in American politics. But, in America, it’s still possible for somebody like me — a child who was raised by a single mom, a child of mixed race who did not have a lot of money — to pursue and achieve the highest office in the land. That’s what’s possible in America. (Applause.)

We do have challenges with racial bias — in our communities, in our criminal justice system, in our society — the legacy of slavery and segregation. But the fact that we have open debates within America’s own democracy is what allows us to get better. In 1959, the year that my father moved to America, it was illegal for him to marry my mother, who was white, in many American states. When I first started school, we were still struggling to desegregate schools across the American South. But people organized; they protested; they debated these issues; they challenged government officials. And because of those protests, and because of those debates, and because of popular mobilization, I’m able to stand here today as an African-American and as President of the United States. That was because of the freedoms that were afforded in the United States that we were able to bring about change.

I’m not saying this is easy. There’s still enormous problems in our society. But democracy is the way that we solve them. That’s how we got health care for more of our people. That’s how we made enormous gains in women’s rights and gay rights. That’s how we address the inequality that concentrates so much wealth at the top of our society. Because workers can organize and ordinary people have a voice, American democracy has given our people the opportunity to pursue their dreams and enjoy a high standard of living. (Applause.)

Now, there are still some tough fights. It isn’t always pretty, the process of democracy. It’s often frustrating. You can see that in the election going on back home. But just stop and consider this fact about the American campaign that’s taking place right now. You had two Cuban Americans in the Republican Party, running against the legacy of a black man who is President, while arguing that they’re the best person to beat the Democratic nominee who will either be a woman or a Democratic Socialist. (Laughter and applause.) Who would have believed that back in 1959? That’s a measure of our progress as a democracy. (Applause.)

So here’s my message to the Cuban government and the Cuban people: The ideals that are the starting point for every revolution — America’s revolution, Cuba’s revolution, the liberation movements around the world — those ideals find their truest expression, I believe, in democracy. Not because American democracy is perfect, but precisely because we’re not. And we — like every country — need the space that democracy gives us to change. It gives individuals the capacity to be catalysts to think in new ways, and to reimagine how our society should be, and to make them better.

There’s already an evolution taking place inside of Cuba, a generational change. Many suggested that I come here and ask the people of Cuba to tear something down — but I’m appealing to the young people of Cuba who will lift something up, build something new. (Applause.) El futuro de Cuba tiene que estar en las manos del pueblo Cubano. (Applause.)

And to President Castro — who I appreciate being here today — I want you to know, I believe my visit here demonstrates you do not need to fear a threat from the United States. And given your commitment to Cuba’s sovereignty and self-determination, I am also confident that you need not fear the different voices of the Cuban people — and their capacity to speak, and assemble, and vote for their leaders. In fact, I’m hopeful for the future because I trust that the Cuban people will make the right decisions.

And as you do, I’m also confident that Cuba can continue to play an important role in the hemisphere and around the globe — and my hope is, is that you can do so as a partner with the United States.

We’ve played very different roles in the world. But no one should deny the service that thousands of Cuban doctors have delivered for the poor and suffering. (Applause.) Last year, American health care workers — and the U.S. military — worked side-by-side with Cubans to save lives and stamp out Ebola in West Africa. I believe that we should continue that kind of cooperation in other countries.

We’ve been on the different side of so many conflicts in the Americas. But today, Americans and Cubans are sitting together at the negotiating table, and we are helping the Colombian people resolve a civil war that’s dragged on for decades. (Applause.) That kind of cooperation is good for everybody. It gives everyone in this hemisphere hope.

We took different journeys to our support for the people of South Africa in ending apartheid. But President Castro and I could both be there in Johannesburg to pay tribute to the legacy of the great Nelson Mandela. (Applause.) And in examining his life and his words, I’m sure we both realize we have more work to do to promote equality in our own countries — to reduce discrimination based on race in our own countries. And in Cuba, we want our engagement to help lift up the Cubans who are of African descent — (applause) — who’ve proven that there’s nothing they cannot achieve when given the chance.

We’ve been a part of different blocs of nations in the hemisphere, and we will continue to have profound differences about how to promote peace, security, opportunity, and human rights. But as we normalize our relations, I believe it can help foster a greater sense of unity in the Americas — todos somos Americanos. (Applause.)

From the beginning of my time in office, I’ve urged the people of the Americas to leave behind the ideological battles of the past. We are in a new era. I know that many of the issues that I’ve talked about lack the drama of the past. And I know that part of Cuba’s identity is its pride in being a small island nation that could stand up for its rights, and shake the world. But I also know that Cuba will always stand out because of the talent, hard work, and pride of the Cuban people. That’s your strength. (Applause.) Cuba doesn’t have to be defined by being against the United States, any more than the United States should be defined by being against Cuba. I’m hopeful for the future because of the reconciliation that’s taking place among the Cuban people.

I know that for some Cubans on the island, there may be a sense that those who left somehow supported the old order in Cuba. I’m sure there’s a narrative that lingers here which suggests that Cuban exiles ignored the problems of pre-Revolutionary Cuba, and rejected the struggle to build a new future. But I can tell you today that so many Cuban exiles carry a memory of painful — and sometimes violent — separation. They love Cuba. A part of them still considers this their true home. That’s why their passion is so strong. That’s why their heartache is so great. And for the Cuban American community that I’ve come to know and respect, this is not just about politics. This is about family — the memory of a home that was lost; the desire to rebuild a broken bond; the hope for a better future the hope for return and reconciliation.

For all of the politics, people are people, and Cubans are Cubans. And I’ve come here — I’ve traveled this distance — on a bridge that was built by Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits. I first got to know the talent and passion of the Cuban people in America. And I know how they have suffered more than the pain of exile — they also know what it’s like to be an outsider, and to struggle, and to work harder to make sure their children can reach higher in America.

So the reconciliation of the Cuban people — the children and grandchildren of revolution, and the children and grandchildren of exile — that is fundamental to Cuba’s future. (Applause.)

You see it in Gloria Gonzalez, who traveled here in 2013 for the first time after 61 years of separation, and was met by her sister, Llorca. “You recognized me, but I didn’t recognize you,” Gloria said after she embraced her sibling. Imagine that, after 61 years.

You see it in Melinda Lopez, who came to her family’s old home. And as she was walking the streets, an elderly woman recognized her as her mother’s daughter, and began to cry. She took her into her home and showed her a pile of photos that included Melinda’s baby picture, which her mother had sent 50 years ago. Melinda later said, “So many of us are now getting so much back.”

You see it in Cristian Miguel Soler, a young man who became the first of his family to travel here after 50 years. And meeting relatives for the first time, he said, “I realized that family is family no matter the distance between us.”

Sometimes the most important changes start in small places. The tides of history can leave people in conflict and exile and poverty. It takes time for those circumstances to change. But the recognition of a common humanity, the reconciliation of people bound by blood and a belief in one another — that’s where progress begins. Understanding, and listening, and forgiveness. And if the Cuban people face the future together, it will be more likely that the young people of today will be able to live with dignity and achieve their dreams right here in Cuba.

The history of the United States and Cuba encompass revolution and conflict; struggle and sacrifice; retribution and, now, reconciliation. It is time, now, for us to leave the past behind. It is time for us to look forward to the future together — un future de esperanza. And it won’t be easy, and there will be setbacks. It will take time. But my time here in Cuba renews my hope and my confidence in what the Cuban people will do. We can make this journey as friends, and as neighbors, and as family — together. Si se puede. Muchas gracias. (Applause.)

END
10:48 A.M. CST


38 thoughts on “Obama Has Faith in the Cuban People

  • June 14, 2016 at 2:44 pm
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    As a African American, I don’t need you to lecture me on stacked decks. If the world was perfect, the US would not exist. But Castros Cuba is worse not better. However small the fraction of the fraction, at least the opportunity in the US exists. In Cuba it is illegal to grow your business beyond a certain level. In Cuba, you have a right to substandard housing, guaranteed employment in a job someone else chooses for you and a right to access poorly staffed and poorly supplied health care. You are comparing the painful reality of life in the US to the imaginary life in Cuba propaganda. Apples and oranges.

  • June 14, 2016 at 1:22 pm
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    Would I rather be a compañero in Cuba, where healthcare is a human right, education and work are guaranteed, and my neighbor actually cares to see me succeed rather than seeing me as competition? Well, considering the alternative, yes.

    The whole point you ignore and will continue to reject is that you don’t GET to choose. You aren’t born in Mississippi as the youngest of 7 kids and just get to CHOOSE to go live in NYC at a law firm. You don’t get to choose to have decent healthcare (let alone a healthy environment), or get to choose to receive a decent education (let alone higher education, or a world class education). The deck is stacked against you, and it’s more likely to win the lottery than it is to “bootstrap” yourself into enjoying the rare fruits of capitalism you describe. But you will deny this and claim that it is the personal responsibility of the non-privileged to “work” their way into privilege–an impossibility that is put forward as possible based on the fraction of a fraction of a percentage of people that manage the feat. Or you will deny the fact that privilege exists under capitalism, which is willful ignorance at best and a sick joke at worst.

    This is to say nothing of the fact that capitalism’s success which you have apparently enjoyed literally hinges on things like child labor and sweatshops overseas, imperialism, interventionist wars, and on and on. But you got yours, so everybody else should shut up, right?

  • June 7, 2016 at 3:31 pm
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    Nice. A drive-by insult. No intelligent, coherent argument to substantiate your personal attack, just a low-brow comment. Care to justify your remark or would you prefer to be ignored?

  • June 7, 2016 at 10:18 am
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    Your ignorance is pretty tragic.

  • April 14, 2016 at 2:12 pm
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    Unemployment should not be feared in any system. RE-EMPLOYMENT is the problem. The employment needs of an agile economy should change as the economy shifts. Socialism lacks agility because the economy is planned from the top down. Market forces, while not perfect, are a far better means of ensuring economic efficiency.

  • April 14, 2016 at 2:06 pm
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    Wage slaves? Bourgeois class? Your socialist claptrap has clouded your judgment. While our system is far from perfect, it remains the best system in the world. Capitalism has fed more people and healed more illness than any other economic system. If I had to choose between being a “wage slave” in New York or a ‘comrade’ in Havana today, there is no doubt that I would choose New York. So would you.

  • April 14, 2016 at 9:44 am
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    We have a choice to be wage slaves and prop up a bourgeois class that lives on our surplus production and hides their profits from taxation, thereby denying us the social programs that should be human rights due to lack of funding. GREAT SYSTEM, WOULD SUFFER UNDER AGAIN 10/10

  • April 14, 2016 at 9:42 am
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    Spoken like someone who has never faced unemployment in his or her life. Not everyone is as fortunate as you, in fact, the majority aren’t.

  • April 14, 2016 at 9:40 am
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    I’ve learned about the anti-leftist propaganda machines that you have obviously been subject to.

  • April 8, 2016 at 7:35 pm
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    You have some serious personal issues, especially since you can’t recognized a word when used in its non literal sense as a rhetorical device.

    John, I find that those who are so sure in their beliefs are usually the ones who are so very very wrong.

  • April 8, 2016 at 7:24 pm
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    No one “guarantees” work. Not even Cuba guarantees work. Perhaps North Korea still pushes that fiction. If you want to give it a try over their be my guest.

  • April 8, 2016 at 4:00 pm
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    For this reason and several others there are safety nets for those children. And because it is the US, all of these children have the opportunity to change their circumstances. Socialist regimes that “guarantee” work also guarantee low pay and a lack of hope.

  • April 8, 2016 at 3:25 pm
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    God provides jobs?
    That’s a new one.
    How about nailing up would-be messiahs for an occupation or slaying Philistines ( Moses comes to mind) .
    It’s tough finding work sacrificing oxen . I’ve applied to umpteen synagogues and churches but the synagogues frown on getting blood on the carpets and the churches all wanted to hold a barbeque.
    Hey God , how about a living wage, for every human being .
    IMO, God’s a bit too much like Moses and I.C, in the way they don’t care about people.

  • April 8, 2016 at 3:18 pm
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    Yup and right now in the free U.S. some 40 million CHILDREN are FREELY choosing to live in poverty either because their parents can’t find a job or can find only work that does not pay a living wage.
    Guaranteed work is a socialist concept that you could not understand as it deals with human needs.

  • April 8, 2016 at 3:15 pm
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    I hear you and understand you but I am in disagreement with you .
    As a citizen of the Empire, it is my duty to point out the crimes of my government which has (IMO) caused the grinding poverty in Cuba along with the repression brought on by the U.S. hostilities.
    No government allows protests against it in times of war .
    Were you to live in Colombia or under Pinochet , both favorites of the US government and dissented or protested , they’d find your decapitated body in the bush.
    I cannot believe that you actually referenced Pinochet who was a war criminal but given your pro-U.S. bias , I am not surprised.
    You should know that the CIA and the GOUSA overthrew the democratically elected Salvador Allende, killed him and went on a totalitarian reign of terror killing thousands.
    You choose very strange examples to make your argument for democracy.in Cuba but your ignorance of history does make you a fine prospect for U.S. citizenship.
    We already have lots of people who have a revisionist view of history and you’d fit right in .

  • March 23, 2016 at 8:13 pm
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    Read the Castro national rag Granma. There are criticisms of his speech such as he didn’t apologize. He didn’t commit to when he would close Gitmo. He didn’t promise to pay reparations. Idiots!

  • March 23, 2016 at 6:40 pm
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    Great job ! Now let’s see it work the way it was intended to my future wife is a Cuban and I’m very proud of her and the way she has believed that anything in life is really possible good luck to all…..

  • March 23, 2016 at 5:21 pm
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    Oh please Dan! Cubans are dying for the suffocating repression to end. One of the first things a Cuban arriving in the US sen senses, and comments on, is a liberating sense of freedom. The knowledge that they can say pretty much anything without fear. You enjoy that feeling, why not Cubans? And yes, Cubans do want to keep their social safety net. So what? What does that have to do with Capitalism?

  • March 23, 2016 at 4:38 pm
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    It is nice. Only in Cuba are you ‘assigned’ a job. Everywhere else we have a choice. Where do you live? Under a rock?

  • March 23, 2016 at 3:58 pm
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    Against my expectations, I have to agree that it was a great speech. Obama showed a lot of passion, intelligence and courage. I guess different people will pick out different things, but for me the most important things was that he came down clearly in favour of self-determination of the Cuban people and that he wasn’t there to tear things down. Also his clear commitment to ending the embargo/blockade was very heartfelt. But there were also many other commendable things.

  • March 23, 2016 at 3:26 pm
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    IC,that’s funny. I don’t know what you base your statement that “Cubans are doing everything to embrace Capitalism” on. My last time there a few months ago sure didn’t give me that impression. Rather, people were more concerned about preserving their social safety net. I don’t equate a simple cuentapropista with a capitalist exploiting the surplus value of another.

  • March 23, 2016 at 11:54 am
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    Yes, deciding on job that best suits you is a privilege available to all Americans. Thank God for that.

  • March 23, 2016 at 11:52 am
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    Oh that’s rich! The Cubans are doing everything possible to embrace capitalism and these misguided kids are trying to embrace communism. Haven’t they learned anything from history?

  • March 23, 2016 at 11:20 am
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    Same. Amazing feeling to actually support and respect one’s own president.

  • March 23, 2016 at 10:10 am
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    The youth caucus of the Green Party just voted to propose an anti-capitalist plank in the main party platform, so the tide is rising.

  • March 23, 2016 at 10:09 am
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    Must be nice to be able to get whatever job best suits you. Maybe check your privilege a little bit before you weigh in.

  • March 23, 2016 at 1:46 am
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    Dan – You being able to tell a socialist or a social democrat from a communist gives me hope. I sincerely hope there are more like you out there. But I don’t think the US is ready for social democratic politics just yet, if it ever will be.

  • March 22, 2016 at 10:02 pm
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    The Castro dinasty have give the power call for MULTIPARTY elections the two and half millions Cubans in exile can be able to vote in that election free press, international monitors of the elections Just like Pinochet did in Chile. But they don’t do it because they know they going to loose it in Cuba the people would vote for anyone but a Castro those ppl they you see in convocatiries march in Havana are people that are almost force to do it they are afraid to loose theirs jobs or making difficult for their families their children. Those Act of repudiation that the government organized with Hordes of people trying to intimidate the opposition is not even for the opposition, they are for the rest of the population sending them a LOOK WHAT GOING TO HAPPEN TO YOU IF YOU DECEND IF YOU JOING THEM. They know the people in the opposition are already determined the Act is to intimidate others and I know that because I’m cuban I was born in Cuba, I lived under the dictatorship, and suffered it I got in the ocean with my two children 6 y 4 years old in 1980 not because I want materials things back then the “Bloquade” was hardly even mentioned because the dictatorship back then was getting a lot of money from the old URSS. back then like now they could buy anything from any other country in the word and take care on people necessities, but not Castro was financiting Guerrillas in Central America, a war in Angola, and construction of a new airport in Granada when the cuban people live is the worst tenements. And remember I was born there. I’m not a trasnochada lefties from Canada trying to sell you anything.

  • March 22, 2016 at 9:41 pm
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    The writer of the headline tells us what Obama is thinking. He “has faith.”
    How can any one of us know what Obama is thinking?

  • March 22, 2016 at 7:11 pm
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    Great speech and wonderful message. President Obama is one of the most charismatic speakers I’ve ever seen and listened to. Might not have voted for him but he sure made me proud to be an American! The citizens of Cuba, watching todays game between US team and Cuban seemed elated.

  • March 22, 2016 at 5:57 pm
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    Don’t confuse the ability to run for office with the ability to win an election. Just about anybody can run. Case in point. ..Donald Trump. But to win an election, you have to convince a majority of voters. Communists have yet to attract a majority of people, never mind voters to support their platform.

  • March 22, 2016 at 5:43 pm
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    Numbers 1 and 2, I vote with my feet. Number 3 in the ballot box. There are no contradictions to be seen.

  • March 22, 2016 at 4:07 pm
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    The article’s title: “Obama has faith…in the Cuban people” brought this statistic to mind about his faith: some 50% of people who identify themselves as Republicans believe President Obama to be a Muslim .
    I only got that from one source, so it may or may not be accurate but it does SEEM to reflect a broad segment of the generally disinformed U.S. electorate.

  • March 22, 2016 at 4:02 pm
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    Hey democrat,
    When was the last time the church you frequent let you vote on scripture’s accuracy and truth ?
    Hey democrat,
    When was the last time you told your boss how much you should be remunerated and how you should best do your job ?
    Hey democrat,
    When was the last time your senator or Representative contacted you to ask your opinion on how he/she should vote. ?
    Hey democrat,
    WTF do YOU, an avowed and PRACTICING totalitarian know about democracy that you feel morally entitled to preach to a country you want to crush and starve.?
    What do you love so much about the lack of democracy in your own life ?
    Do you not see the contradiction in your two situations: what you are and what you preach ?

  • March 22, 2016 at 3:55 pm
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    Right on the money david,
    For the president of the Empire to be preaching democracy to anyone is the height of arrogance, historical amnesia and imperial hypocrisy.
    U.S. foreign history is replete withor anyone and scores of interventions to not only to PREVENT democracy and democratic organizations but the overt overthrow of legitimate, democratically elected governments in at least four instances.
    The United Snakes has more people in prison than “communist” China or Russia or any country
    just for being poor and black and if they aren’t called political prisoners, they certainly are in reality.
    Yeah, supreme arrogance, imperial hypocrisy writ large.

  • March 22, 2016 at 1:22 pm
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    Great speech. He spoke from a teleprompter but it was clearly a speech he was comfortable with. He is a fantastic public speaker but this speech like so many others he has made seemed very personal. He was polite and respectful of his host but he didn’t pull any punches either. Without being condescending or ‘preachy’, he made it clear to the Cuban people that US values like freedom of speech are what set America apart from Cuba. He mentioned free elections several times leaving no doubt that Cuba need not be afraid of democracy. I almost never feel this way but today would have been a great day to be an American in Cuba.

  • March 22, 2016 at 11:31 am
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    Only in America does Bernie Sanders qualify as a “Socialist”. He is a social democrat, i.e. capitalist. Is Obama saying that a Marxist could get anywhere near the public with his message, much less be allowed to win an election ? Imaginate !

  • March 22, 2016 at 11:29 am
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    “Fellow communistas, I believe you should have the right to protest and criticize your government. (wink, wink, nod, nod to president Raul) You have nothing to fear from the USA. Your only fear should come from if you protest and criticize your government.”

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