By Alberto N Jones
HAVANA TIMES – June 16, 2017, will be recorded in Latin America and world history as a sad, frustrating day, in which Cuba was seen vacillating, insecure, having lost the initiative, vision and ability to strike back, that characterized the Cuban Revolution since the days of the rebels in the Sierra Maestra mountains.
Hoping to express his gratitude to right-wing Cuban Americans who gave him substantial political support in the recent elections, president Donald Trump mounted a two-prong show in Miami, where hurling bravado and threats against Cuba dominated his speech, as he tried momentarily to deviate attention from serious legal issues haunting his administration.
Fifteen months ago, hundreds of observers, researchers and critics in and outside of Cuba, were dismayed by a senseless diatribe that was unleashed by a poorly expressed or worse understood sentence that was included in president Barack Obama conciliatory speech that was delivered in the beautiful Grand Theater in Havana, nearly derailing the objectives of the visit.
Honest and opportunist writers, commentators and thinkers alike, could not stop feeding on this issue and a few went as far as uttering offensive expressions against a visitor, who was an example of modesty, humility and a people’s person, who was genuinely interested in advancing the bilateral relations between the US and Cuba.
Cuba missed a precious and critical moment, in which some preferred to continue to mix excretions with a stick instead of adding effective, complementary actions that would expand and strengthen new areas of distension.
The miniscule scratch that this diplomatic opening did to the embargo was obscured with grandiloquent, self-gratification speeches demanding the lifting of the embargo, knowing it was codified into US law as jurisdiction of Congress and out of reach of the president.
In spite of this, travel to Cuba was liberalized and commercial, health, agriculture, scientific, cultural and other exchanges was widely encouraged. Inexplicably, Cuba did not take advantage of this small opening.
Cuba could and should have promoted the formation of large Cuban-American Joint ventures in potato, rice, corn, citric, fruit, poultry, pig and cattle industries, instead of holding on to millions of fallow acres, while having to import the majority of its foodstuffs.
Cuba should have promoted the creation of Cuban-American joint Hotel Enterprises with hundreds of dilapidated hotels and villas in the hands of Isla Azul, the Camping sites, and new nationwide investments.
Cuba could and should have removed stifling Customs rules that prohibit the entrance of all sorts of goods as permitted by Customs in the US and around the world, which would have turned it into a source of material supplies, where products, equipment, spare parts and other unavailable items could have been satisfied while earning millions of dollars in taxes for the country.
Cuba could have saved millions of hours lost. due the disastrous state of public transportation, by allowing to import of used trucks, buses and automobiles without market demand in the US, the same ones that were allowed into the country in small qualtities as donations in the past.
It is imperative the Cuban government recognize its mistaken calculations and modify the survival and development strategy of the country, by relaxing and liberalizing labor, commerce, services and other productive activities in dysfunctional state hands.
And now Trump
The spectacle that took place in Miami, as we watched president Donald Trump lecture Cuba like primary school children by demanding the implementation of verifiable policies by his government, the same ones he is incapable of demanding from any municipal government in the US, was depressing, repugnant and instructive.
It was painful to watch other Cubans in Miami cheer the threats of hunger, desolation and deaths with which a US president about to be questioned by the judicial system of his country, used to try and intimidate a heroic people that have spilled their blood in defense of their independence and sovereignty and that of other brotherly people.
Cuba can knock down this momentary set-back by using the massive support it has received from dozens of presidents, prime ministers, the Pope, kings and foreign ministers that have visited the country in recent years and favorably renegotiated Cuba´s external debts, leaving substantial amount of investment and development funds in the country with which, little or nothing has been done so far.
The future of Cuba and that of dozens of small, weak and underdeveloped nations depends of the survival of Cuba. No measure that leads to the preservation and the future of millions of islanders should be debated, doubted or its implementation postponed.