Isbel Díaz Torres
HAVANA TIMES – The delegation of US Democrats headed by Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democratic Party minority in the US House of Representatives, showed much contentment and enthusiasm this past week in Cuba.
Many of these representatives, like Minnesota’s Collin Peterson, have been attempting to normalize relations between the two governments for more than 25 years, and the announcement made on December 17 last year has been like a much-awaited reward for their long efforts.
Generally speaking, the US representatives didn’t stray far from the issues that the Undersecretary of State announced last month: Cuba’s removal from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, the opening of Cuban accounts in US banks and the establishments of embassies in the two countries.
It would nevertheless be good to analyze some comments, in order to understand the details that are being kept from the public.
At the residence of the Press and Cultural Attaché of the US Interests Section in Havana, Nydia Velazquez told us that, in addition to taking part in official gatherings, she met with Cuba’s self-employed (some of whom were private restaurant owners) during this trip.
The congresswoman is interested in providing technical assistance and incentives to these small business owners, so that their ventures can grow and expand through the “type of model that works,” through US financial institutions that is.
Collin Peterson, member of the Agriculture Committee, told his counterparts that “we want to help you” and that “we can sell you good food at a good price.” Rosa DeLauro, from Connecticut, proposed that Cuba import rice from the United States.
The enthusiasm is such that Massachusetts representative Jim McGovern (also from the Agriculture committee) announced that the US Parliament’s Cuba Task Force would soon be reestablished and expressed that he is confident they will succeed in lifting the embargo.
Some, like New York’s Elliot Engel, didn’t forget one of the key issues of these negotiations. “We’re very concerned with human rights,” said Engel, adding that “I’d like to see more changes from the Cuban side.”
Unfortunately, the US delegation was unable to reveal how the Cuban government responded to these sensitive issues. Nor did we hear anything about the United States’ offer of greater Internet connectivity on the island.
California’s Anna Eshoo, who met with Harold Cardenas, one of the young bloggers from La Joven Cuba, merely enumerated the potential benefits the Internet would bring Cubans and expressed her hope that 95 % of Cuba would soon enjoy a broadband connection.
Did she know about the international telecommunication services agreement that the Cuban phone company ETECSA and the US company IDT Domestic Telecom signed on Friday, the day after the press conference?
Perhaps she did, but they didn’t make anything too clear. The message was unequivocal: in contrast to the image of neutrality Jacobson offered us in January, the posture now seems to be one of unbridled enthusiasm.
This suggests the doors are being opened more and more, in accordance with a pre-established plan to which our people have no access.