Raul Castro Calls for Respect for Cuban Sovereignty

Raul Castro addressing the Cuban parliament on Dec. 29, 2015. Foto: Ismael Francisco/cubadebate.cu
Raul Castro addressing the Cuban parliament on Dec. 29, 2015. Foto: Ismael Francisco/cubadebate.cu

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban President Raul Castro called today for respect for the national sovereignty of the country in order to move forward on the full restoration of diplomatic relations with the United States.

“We will never accept conditions that lacerate the sovereignty and dignity of the country,” Castro told lawmakers during the closing of a National Assembly session.

The Cuban president said that with the new bilateral situation with the United States “it should not be expected for Cuba to abandon the cause independence or give up the principles and ideals that generations of Cubans have fought for a century and a half.”

In closing the plenary session of the Cuban Parliament, Castro said that to fully normalize relations with the United States, the Guantanamo Naval Base must be returned and the embargo applied against Cuba removed, reported the official press.

“What is essential now is that President Barack Obama use his broad executive powers to modify the embargo, which would give meaning to what has been achieved thus far and allow solid progress to occur,” Raul Castro told the lawmakers.

He further reiterated the commitment of his government with “Cuban citizens right to travel and emigrate and return home”.

Since last month, thousands of Cubans are stranded at the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua with the intention to travel to the United States. On Monday, the government of El Salvador agreed to establish an air bridge to that country so the migrants can then continue on by bus to the US border.

“Our government has been in contact from the very beginning of this situation with the region’s governments, searching for a suitable and quick solution, as pope Francis has also called for, and taking into account the difficult circumstances of the migrants,” said Castro.

The Cuban president noted that “the main stimulus for illegal emigration” from Cuba to the United States “are special laws like the Cuban Adjustment Act” which grants Cubans permanent residency after a year spent in the country, which is not the case with migrants from other countries of the continent.

The Cuban Parliament approved the state budget for 2016 in which 58 percent of the investment plan will be aimed at economic areas considered “key” to the country, such as tourism, energy, oil and agricultural production. No comparative figures were given.

The Cuban National Assembly consists of 612 members representing all the country’s municipalities, and is elected every five years. It meets only twice yearly for a couple days of committee meetings and what is usually a one-day plenary session. Virtually all votes are unanimous.

9 thoughts on “Raul Castro Calls for Respect for Cuban Sovereignty

  • There is no reason for Obama to do more than is absolutely necessary because they are politically insignificant. I agree with Moses that it isn’t up to Obama to support them if the ordinary Cubans don’t make the effort. Obama can’t put one case of possible miscarriage of justice (Bacalao) before the wellbeing of the whole of the Cuban population. By the same token it would be silly for Raul Castro to make the hunger strike of 29,000 inmates in California a prerequisite for progress in the relationship with the US. If you want to bring up the “weekly beatings” I would like to see see some evidence. Where are the pictures from last week for example.

    As far as the migration issue is concerned – the current policy is nonsense. On the whole the US should treat Cuba as any other country. ie they should accept political refugees without question (which they don’t at the moment) and accept an agreed number of economic migrants through proper channels. There is also some sense of having some special arrangements which are agreed between the two countries. An example of this would be the particular arrangements between Britain and Ireland.

  • You assume Obama wants to do more for Cuban dissidents. I’ve seen no evidence of that. Quite the contrary, he does as little as is absolutely necessary. And not even that.

    Those Cubans fed up with Castro have fled to the US, or elsewhere. This steady, and lately growing, exodus has provided the Castro’s with a safety valve to bleed off dissent.
    Therefore, do you propose an embargo on Cuban immigration to the US? Block the flow of exiles, forcing them to stay locked on the island, where they will finally be forced to confront the regime to the degree satisfactory to your taste?

    I accept as fact that you, Moses, detest the Castros. But I see no evidence that Obama and his closest circle of advisors and sycophants share your negative views. On the contrary, his former chief of staff, Rahm Emmanuel, has just return from a no doubt charming family vacation in quaint and fashionable progressive Cuba. Obama’s most loyal allies in congress are regulars on the Washington-Havana junket.

    Let’s face it, Moses, the left wing of the Democratic Party, of which Obama is their champion, positively adore Fidel, Che, and the Cuban Revolution. They refuse to see anything wrong with how Raul treats the Cuban dissidents. To say they’re ignorant of the weekly beatings Castro’s goons inflict on the Ladies in White is too generous. They actively ignore the violent repression. They excuse it or pretend it doesn’t happen or that it’s irrelevant.

    Or in some cases, (pause here for self-reflection, Moses) …in some cases they arrogantly declare its not vigorous enough opposition to warrant their concern. Are you waiting for Bacalao to die in his hunger strike before you consider his cause worth interrupting your President’s golf schedule for?

    So ask yourself, would you risk your neck protesting against a regime with 6 decades of experience at oppression which has finally opened an alliance with your one and only potential source of help? Or would you cut your losses and get the hell out of hell before the new US money flow ensures your gaolors’ ultimate victory?

  • I still contend that Cubans must do more before Obama should step up his criticism. Let them fill up the prisons with dissidents and be forced to build new ones if necessary. I don’t see the Cubans who have remained in Cuba as desperate enough. The Cubans who may have lit themselves on fire in protest have left or are leaving the island. I share your disgust for the Castros. I just don’t see Cubans doing enough to save themselves.

  • In 2009, the Iranian people were marching in the streets against the tyranny of the Mullahs, and Obama made the mildest of speeches, not daring to directly condemn the Iranian regime. Why? Because he hoped to cut a deal with Iran on the nuclear weapons program. Ask any Iranian you meet in California what they think of Obama’s let-down in 2009.

    Likewise, Obama will say nothing to criticize Raul Castro because he will never risk his precious legacy. CNN won’t report on it for the same reason, as Obama’s lapdogs, the liberal media won’t report on any inconvenient facts from Cuban which might cast Obama’s Cuba policy in a bad light.

    In case you haven’t noticed, Castro’s goon are already beating up innocent dissidents. Every week scores of Ladies in White are assaulted and arrested. Yo ask why don’t Cuban authors write about it? The Cuban author Angel Santestieban was imprisoned for blogging his criticisms for the Castro regime. Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo writes about it everyday.

    Obama is doing exactly what he should be doing? Certainly Raul Castro agrees with you, but in the past 12 months, while Obama has handed Castro one unearned concession after another, the repression in Cuba has gotten worse, the numbers of Cubans fleeing the island has doubled and the Castro regime has a new lease on life.

    Do you disagree? Please present some facts to the contrary. I defy you to find one.

  • Obama has gone out of his way to help Cuba. Rewarding Obama with a few simple gestures would help Obama go further. Settling the old property claims are Cuba’s best bet to get the embargo to end. Holding up settlement over counter claims would be foolish. Cuba will have plenty of leverage on trade, taxes and development rights. With the Maduro era coming to an end, this is the time to end Cuba’s economic isolation.

  • Griffin, Obama must walk a fine line in defending the political rights of foreigners in foreign lands. If Cubans were in the streets burning trash bins and refusing to go to work in state jobs, no doubt the Castros would unleash their goons to suppress the unrest. Once this made the lead story on both CNN and Fox, our US President would have the political cover to express his support for the dissenters. The problem is that Cubans themselves have shown tepid reactions to their own repression. However morally correct an overt expression of support would be, Obama doesn’t have the political capital go forward too quickly. I agree that he seems overly concerned with his legacy of having restored relations with Cuba but why has no other prominent dissenter joined in the hunger strike. Why haven’t the scores of Cuban writers who oppose the dictatorship published something every day to bring attention to this case. I think Obama, especially with this last action, has done exactly what he should be doing.

  • Raul Castro’s idea of “sovereignty” includes the power of his government to crush all dissent within Cuba. The Cuban independent labour organizer, Vladimir Morera Bacalao, who was freed last January as part of the “historic” deal with Obama, was re-arrested in April for posting a sign in his yard which read, “I vote for my freedom and not in an election where I cannot choose my president.”

    Today, Morera Bacalao is on a hunger strike in prison to protest his unjust incarceration. He is now close to death.

    And yet, so profound is Obama’s respect for Raul Castro’s sovereign right to treat Cubans with utter brutality, the US President has said nothing in defence of this Cuban political prisoner.

    Raul can rest easy, knowing his sovereignty is safe. Obama is more interested in preserving his legacy and will not allow any inconvenient hunger striker to disturb the progressive narrative.

  • Just a heads up to Raul, it’s called the United States and right now without that country 90 miles away you’d be well under water! USSR and now Venezuela, two countries that kept you going for a while pretty much are treading water themselves so let’s just go over the “deal!” We in the US have a system, right or wrong, that engages its citizens in a process of voting for various individuals. There could be some radical differences or minor but nevertheless we usually have options. Within that group are expatriates from Cuba, most of whom came to this country with very little, and now have made a good wage AND VOTE! They FLED Cuba because you took away their homes, businesses, CHURCHES, schools and way of life! They now have power and exert that power within this political system. Most do not like the fact that doctors have to work, in Cuba, some driving cabs, just to provide the basics for their children. Most do not like seeing people arrested and detained for freedom of speech! Most do not like seeing a country run down like a poor village in India! There are many other reasons why these VOTERS don’t like you and your system but overall the speech you just gave is the latest. Your system is bad! Socialism takes away motivation and innovation but you’re just not getting it. In short, you either will change or face the consequences of the likes of so many
    tyrants who are now dust in the wind! We are a democratic republic and we send to you billions of dollars as well as tourist revenues. Best you don’t insult us and our way of life! Feliz año nuevo

  • It comes as no surprise that Lil’ bro’ Raul made no mention of what Cuba must do to merit normal relations with the US. He is likely well-studied as to what Obama can do to get the boot of the US embargo off of his neck. He should spend at least as much time figuring out what he can do to earn the mutual respect of President Obama. Releasing political prisoners would be a great start. Legalization of independent media and scheduling open and independent elections would probably nail it.

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