Vicente Morín Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — The immediate threat facing Havana right now is that beer and rum supplies may run out, as people are celebrating wholeheartedly. Putting an end to half a century of political intransigence seemed impossible. Now, the end of this conflict may mean a Nobel Peace Prize for Raul Castro and restore Obama’s lost prestige in this connection.
People are very excited. Obama has just announced that the United States will re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, following talks with Raul Castro. Alan Gross was sent back to his country and the three Cuban spies that had been imprisoned in the US have returned home. The exchange of prisoners is a significant development, but the significance of yesterday, December 17th, is even greater.
I have always laid my bets on Raul Castro, the reformer. In one of his customarily short address, he spoke of loyalty to principles and the need for moderate exchange. I am positive that, as in Mao’s China, his predecessor would never have been capable of achieving this.
It is a historical imperative. Obama recognized we can’t continue to do the same things, while acknowledging we also can’t completely erase our history. An essential part of the US president’s address is his confidence that a new space for freedom of expression, trade union rights that have hitherto been denied Cubans and broader freedoms in general, will be opened up by this.
It is well worth stressing that, when Raul Castro entered office, he negotiated the release of political prisoners, most of them imprisoned during his brother’s mandate, with the mediation of the Catholic Church. Cuba’s new leader also released nearly three thousand common inmates whose crimes were of a financial nature.
Now, other prisoners of conscience have been released from prison. It is notable that, though political repression is far from over in Cuba, repressive measures decreased considerably during Raul Castro’s administration. Without a doubt, the new Cuban leader wants to stick to his promises, something difficult to achieve in a country that has experienced over fifty years of communist authoritarianism.
To conclude, Obama spoke of a hostility that leads nowhere. It is indeed excellent that this superpower should renounce its plans of stifling Cuba, of forcing it to its knees. The challenge facing Cuban revolutionaries now is to adapt to this new reality.
In his historical address, Raul Castro stated Cuba is making headway in the so-called “updating process” aimed at bringing authentic reforms to the country. Private capitalist property has returned to the island and foreign investment, once considered taboo, is being encouraged.
The road ahead of us is long and there is still much terrain to cover, but the step taken on December 17 will go down in history. I ask that Raul Castro be awarded the Nobel Prize that Fidel thought Obama unworthy of. Obama, in turn, should regain the prestige he lost as a peace-keeper.
Vicente Morín Aguado: [email protected]