Roberto Veiga Gonzalez*
HAVANA TIMES — The normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States has long been a thorny issue. Bilateral conflicts between the two countries date back to the 19th century and reached a peak with the embargo policy applied following the triumph of the revolution in 1959.
That said, following Raul Castro’s appointment as head of State, the matter has been gaining momentum (unexpectedly for some), to the point that the strained relations between the two countries and the island’s ties to other States and a number of supra-national institutions could be modified. It is also worth emphasizing that this could make Cuba’s domestic social structures (be these economic, civil, political or other) more dynamic.
It’s not that I am inclined to think that the improvement of our internal and international relations ought to ultimately depend on the sensibleness of US power sectors vis-a-vis the issue of Cuba. I believe, on the contrary, that, regardless of the policy of any country, no matter how powerful they are, any bloc of countries or any international mechanism, the progress and balance of the nation should always ultimately depend on our political maturity and ingenuity.
I am also of the opinion, however, that, without normalized relations between Cuba and the United States, securing the internal conditions and the atmosphere needed to consolidate ourselves as a nation in important areas would prove burdensome. We cannot deny the history, culture, geography and other economic, social and political realities that bind us to the United States, for better and for worse.
In this sense, we are duty-bound to strengthen the ties that could make a positive contribution to both societies and, on the basis of the mutual trust this ought to afford us, we must make an effort to overcome the negative situations that could arise, or become more intense, as a result of power asymmetries. This could contribute to helping us overcome the difficulties we face and set us down the road of economic and socio-political development.
There’s a broad consensus within Cuban society regarding the need to transform the current social model in order to make it increasingly easier to materialize the shared aspirations of the nation. The country’s current collective longings stem from a process of national maturation rooted in the numerous achievements and frustrations it has accumulated over history.
The generations that share the country today wish to have greater possibilities to develop responsible forms of freedom and social justice, greater balance in terms of the entire range of rights, educational, cultural and spiritual efforts capable of bolstering human virtue and solidarity within communities, an economic model aimed at development and the common good, a heterogeneous social tapestry that is committed to the overall development of society, an increasingly more effective citizen’s democracy and relations of peace and cooperation with all of the world’s countries.
There are, however, different ideas and proposals as to how to move forward to attain the above, and this demands the tracing of common path among Cubans. This process is already a reality in the nation today, but it still lacks all of the needed facilities.
To secure these, as we all know, developing the country’s socio-political institutions is of the essence. Though some sectors find more than enough reasons to try and destabilize this process and exclude those sectors committed to the historical process known as the Cuban revolution from it, it isn’t difficult to see that the changes brought about by this, though potentially positive, would not suffice in terms of achieving greater and more plural political participation. This is both obvious and irrefutable, as no one in their right mind provides others with the tools needed to destroy them.
In addition, if we pay close attention to the genuine demands of those Cubans who are in dearest need of change in the country, we see that we cannot aspire to restoring the past or to completely and hastily dismantling the current system. We must, rather, strive to broaden the entire universe of human possibilities in a peaceful and gradual manner.
Therefore, if we seek to transform Cuba’s current model to a more positive arrangement, in which there are, of course, no newly excluded sectors, but rather collective and liberating efforts based on solidarity, we must develop the conditions that make it possible. To achieve this, we require an intense leap forward where the economic and social stability of the country is concerned, for this, in turn, will reduce the potential for an internal, heart-rending political confrontation and will gradually create – likely to the displeasure of some at either end of the political spectrum – the conditions for a diverse, serene and edifying political spectrum.
I have focused on this, which eminently appears to be an issue of domestic policy, because I want to reiterate that, without the normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States, it would be very difficult to achieve economic and social stability on the island, conditions that could sustain a far more audacious and intense process of reforms. The potential for pluralistic political participation would also not be feasible while it can be argued, and even proven that spaces for citizen participation can be utilized by certain US power sectors, and their allies, with a view to perturbing and irresponsibly modifying sovereign socio-political processes.
In this connection, we must express satisfaction over the island’s current reform process. Though perceived as inadequate and confused now, these can mobilize a process sustained by a vision that can create ever more solid forms of social justice in a continuous and unrestrained fashion.
Similarly, we must commend all efforts in the United States aimed at arriving at a solution to these bilateral conflicts, particularly those undertaken as of 2006, when the Cuban head of State and government announced the country’s willingness to hold talks with the US administration and, on the basis of respect and equality, to address all pertinent issues, with a view to easing tensions between the two states.
The movements in Cuba and the United States that support these processes have expanded and are being coordinated by important personalities and sectors in the two countries. This embodies a possibility and a radical sign of hope that was long unheard of for most Cubans. It suggests that human and political hatred, the different but identical attempts at exclusion and vengeance, and the creation of mechanisms for confrontation and destruction, may today be on the retreat, and that their somber ambitions to determine the present and, most importantly, the future of the Cuban nation, may also be vanishing.
*General Coordinator of Cuba Posible.