Raul Castro: Critical but Less Hostile of USA

Daniel Garcia Marco y Beatriz Juez (dpa)

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban President Raul Castro will address the UN General Assembly for the first time on Monday, with a speech less hostile than those of his older brother, a testament to the rapprochement with the United States.

“For us, both are lacking in political savvy,” Fidel Castro declared at the UN on September 26, 1960, referring to presidential candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

It was his first address at a UN plenary session and both his anti-US rhetoric and the 269-minute duration of the speech (a record in the General Assembly’s 70-year history) are still vividly remembered.

Raul Castro, who has been Cuba’s president since 2008, is not likely to deliver a speech as long or critical tomorrow. The younger of the Castros is more pragmatic and less rhetorical, and, after more than 50 years of ideological rivalry, the United States and Cuba have re-established relations, making these times rather different.

“He will likely make room in his speech for anti-imperialist statements and a defense of the Cuban revolution, as well as the reforms that he has implemented. He will probably underscore the role President Obama and Pope Francis played in the rapprochement between Washington and Havana. And, without a doubt, he will condemn the US commercial blockade,” Michael Shifter, chair of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue Organization, told DPA.

Raul Castro’s speech at the UN Summit on Sustainable Development on Saturday may have been a sample of tomorrow’s address.

On the one hand, Castro condemned the embargo that the United States has been imposing on the island for over fifty years and that only Congress has the authority to lift.

“The economic, commercial and financial blockade maintained on Cuba for more than half a century brings challenges and privation to the Cuban people, and it is the main obstacle in the way of our country’s economic development,” said Raul Castro, affirming that the embargo is condemned by 188 UN member states.

On the other hand, he underscored the rapprochement with the long-standing ideological enemy and quoted Barack Obama, who supports the lifting of a blockade that has been softened through executive measures.

“The re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, the reopening of embassies and the policy changes that President Barack Obama has announced vis-à-vis our country constitute an important step,” he declared.

Tomorrow, September 28, Castro will speak a few hours after Obama takes the floor of the UN General Assembly. Then, according to the White House, the two leaders will meet face-to-face on Tuesday, the first time since the historical meeting in April at the Summit of the Americas in Panama. Last week, the two leaders spoke over the phone prior to Pope Francis’ visit to the two countries.

“President Raul Castro is going to reaffirm Cuba’s long-standing foreign policy commitments during his speech and no one should expect him to embrace a world order led by the United States or the power of the market economy system,” Cuban political analyst and assistant professor at the University of New York Arturo Lopez-Levy told DPA in connection with the speech.

On Saturday, the socialist leader called on nations to “change the prevailing international economic order.”

“But we’re going to see less confrontation in terms of how he portrays the United States’ role in the world,” Lopez-Levy added.

Since Fidel Castro’s 2000 speech, no Cuban president had spoken before the UN General Assembly. “It’s a positive step, for it marks the return to a forum in which only countries like North Korea or Syria do not participate,” Shifter said with respect to the diplomatic gesture.

The times are changing. Ideologies survive, but the enemy is less so. “Imperialism is going to be framed as somewhat less imperialistic,” Lopez-Levy pointed out.

People also change. Fidel was different than Raul Castro, who maintains a “pragmatic kind of leadership,” the political analyst affirmed.

Though it isn’t likely to last four hours, the speech won’t be a brief remark like Saturday’s – that was just a glimpse at what’s to come. “Given the importance of the event and Cuba’s habit, I would not expect a short speech,” Shifter stated.

3 thoughts on “Raul Castro: Critical but Less Hostile of USA

  • “… inspite of American secret religion based on the Knights of the Templars new world.” Hahahahaha!

  • The best speech ever was delivered by pope Francis in Philedelphia on the true seventh day, and I was praying for his safety as he stood next to a statue of George Washington who was the leader of the rebel armies against the American Apartied.
    The fact is George Washington was never elected and niether was his successor and so the Pope was reafirming the Cuban Governments success and confirmation under God. The first concern of any situation is in respect to God , even at personal peril as Pope Francis has shown while showing great wisdom for Gods wishes inspite of American secret religion based on the Knights of the Templars new world.
    Perhaps his declaration of acceptance of all religion was sufficient to keep them
    from doing there historical deeds of murder of popes which is well documented.
    President Obama has control and is himself a miracle and a leader of wisdom
    in his efforts along with Cuba along side the Swiss Army to protect Pope Francis as he delivered the message of God which was perfect.
    President Castro can hold his head high and deliver a message to the United Nations with the full support of Gods witness. I would think war reperations of 2 trillion U.S. dollars would be fair despite the 150 billion calculation tabled previously
    ,I base this on the 2 trillion dollars they spent killing religion in the middle east and
    the trillion plus banking support of fraudulent banking of U.S. realestate investments world wide… The U.S. currency is just too over valued really so 2 trillion is in line for Cuban rebuilding. That would be my thoughts anyway.
    May God be with the president as he adresses the U.N.
    Thank you

  • No matter how long or short the speech is, you can be sure Castro-lite will be careful to blame everybody else for Cuba’s problems. He will surely drone on in that annoying nasal voice of his about how rich countries should give poor countries free stuff without any responsibility of the poor countries to stop doing dumb things that causes them to be poor. He will praise Big Bro’ with nary a mention of how much Fidel has screwed things up. The only good news is that if he is going to speak AFTER President Obama speaks, the chamber will mostly be empty. Except for the poor slobs from Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua. They have to stay so someone can applaud on cue.

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