Cuba and the USA: Relations That Never Should Have Been Broken

By Pedro Campos

The flag pole at the US embassy in Havana.   Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — This Friday, August 14, the American flag will be raised in Cuba during the reopening of the US embassy in Havana, a symbol of the re-establishment of relations negotiated by Raul Castro and Barack Obama.

This restores relations that should have never been broken, for, if there were reasons for the two governments to put distance between them, the peoples of Cuba and the United States had more reasons to never cut those ties. Unfortunately, governments act in accordance with their interests and not always to serve the interests of their citizens.

The peoples of Cuba and the United States in fact never cut friendly ties. We see this clearly among the island’s population, which exudes joy at the reestablishment of relations, which clearly shows that the years of obfuscation and confrontation between the two governments did not manage to change popular sentiment.

This friendship was also always evident among the American people, and it was demonstrated whenever a Cuban who left the country, fleeing political persecution or looking for new economic horizons, was welcomed in the United States.

Though we Cubans have always condemned US government interference in the internal affairs of Cuba and its imperial policies in general, we have also been able to acknowledge the great contributions that the United States has made to the world’s culture and economy – and the development of our own country, in particular. The negative has not blinded us to the positive.

The history of Cuba – whether we like it or not – cannot be written without acknowledging the impact – both positive and negative – that relations with the United States has had. This is not the time to write a complete history of this process or dwell on the more unpleasant aspects of it. Some positive events, however, are worthy of recollection at this historical juncture.

Cuba and the United States have very similar histories. The main demographic roots of the two peoples are European and African immigration, the two countries had a plantation and slave economy, were exploited by metropolis, staged wars of independence and aided one another in those struggles.

When the United States was nothing more than a handful of scattered English colonies, illegal trade in or the contraband of alcohol and tobacco, in violation with what the Spanish crown had decreed, was one of the chief sources of income of Cubans, and many Cubans who sympathized with the independence cause of these colonies took part in their struggle against England.

The declaration of independence of 1776 spurred on the development of Cuba’s independence movement, and the democratic and libertarian airs that emanated from that process fanned the annexationist designs of many Cuban patriots who saw that as a means of casting off the Spanish yoke.

Without a doubt, the United States was then the most significant libertarian reference in the world.

Cuba and the United States have very similar histories. The main demographic roots of the two peoples are European and African immigration, the two countries had a plantation and slave economy, were exploited by metropolis, staged wars of independence and aided one another in those struggles.

The United States’ intervention in the 1898 war against Spain can be interpreted in different ways, but no one can deny that the American volunteers who fought as troops in the war did so with imperial designs. I’m talking about the people, not governments.

If many US imperialists craved control over the island, most US citizens looked upon the island in a protective way.

The majority of the Cuban people have never shared the hatred towards the United States professed by some leaders. Mobs and groups of demonstrators yelling slogans can be come across anywhere, particularly during periods of confrontation. But not once have supporters of the Cuban government burnt the Star – Spangled Banner on Cuban soil, for everyone knows that flags represent the people and not solely the government.

Over the past 60 years, many of the developments in Cuba-US relations have been manipulated by both governments in the search for political advantages. Many stories have been very badly told. Let us hope this new stage of relations will allow for other (and more realistic) versions of events to come to light.

No one can expect the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the two governments to automatically solve all of the problems that have weighed on these relation. We are just now starting a normalization process.

There remain many blockade-embargo laws that must be eliminated, the problems surrounding the Guantanamo Naval Base, the economic damage caused to both countries by the policy of confrontation and numberless other bilateral issues that must be addressed.

Cuba has its own share of internal problems, affecting its political system (which must be democratized), its economy (which must be socialized and become open to all forms of production, lifting all restrictions on self-employment and independent cooperatives, to put an end to the State monopoly over the economy).

We also have serious issues to address with respect to property and human rights. But those are all Cuban problems that ought to be solved by Cubans, among ourselves, without interference from anyone.

Over the past 60 years, many of the developments in Cuba-US relations have been manipulated by both governments in the search for political advantages. Many stories have been very badly told. Let us hope this new stage of relations will allow for other (and more realistic) versions of events to come to light.

This does not mean that we should turn our backs on others around the world who are concerned about these issues and trying to help us arrive at a solution in good will and without any attempt to impose conditions on us.

They tried to accustom us to seeing everything the United States as negative. That policy, which never took root, has begun to change and will continue to change, and we must be grateful to Raul Castro and Barack Obama for this.

Our proximity to the United States, the world’s largest economy, the existence of a Cuban-American community of more than 2 million people, the resources that those Cubans control, are factors that, well directed, could contribute to a prosperous future for all Cubans.

Confrontation among governments is a thing of the past. From now on, neither the United States nor Cuba must look back to the problems, misunderstandings and confrontations of the past. We must look forward towards cooperation and mutual respect, to a time when the philosophy of the elite in power in each nation does not have the final word and the solidarity, fraternity and cooperation that have characterized the relations between the two peoples prevail.

Ultimately, governments pass and the people – the ones who count – remain.


18 thoughts on “Cuba and the USA: Relations That Never Should Have Been Broken

  • August 21, 2015 at 8:57 am
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    By the way, San Francisco’s Castro District was named after José Antonio Castro (1808 – 1860) who was acting governor of Alta California from 1835-1836 and Commandante General of the Mexican army in Alta California at the time of the 1846 Bear Flag Revolt and the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848.

  • August 21, 2015 at 8:18 am
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    Glad to bring a little mirth into your life!

  • August 20, 2015 at 10:14 am
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    What does this have to do with US/Cuban relations?

  • August 20, 2015 at 6:47 am
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    OK, I am on it. Hahaha!

  • August 20, 2015 at 5:33 am
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    Oye Moses, I forgot to include the compounded interest since 1961 (Bay of Pigs invasion) and what you (USA) owes Cuba for all the Terrorism, Sabotage, the Blockade, the Chemical and Biological Warfare, damages caused by libel and related loss of reputation, illegal occupation of Cuban Territory and losses caused by association with the Guantánamo base Torture Center comes to about ~$14 TRILLION in U$D (my own calculation with a little help from Fidel). We also demand y’all sign a Real Nice Hallmark Card, not the $3.98 kind but the $9.99 ones with the velvet and the little music thing when you open it and stuff, with a heart-felt apology signed by the Prez. Finally, We would like to honor the Castro name by naming a city or an important neighborhood within a city in the USA after our beloved leaders; like San Francisco, bless their hearts, has already done with the Castro District. As you can see, it’s not much but We are willing to let bygones be bygones after you PAY UP, MOSES!

  • August 20, 2015 at 5:01 am
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    Yep!

  • August 19, 2015 at 4:39 pm
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    ‘State-Sponsored Prostitution’ going on in The United States. In The Commonwealth of Massachusetts it has been discovered that Politicians have been putting women that they have had illegitimate children with on Section 8. These Politicians have been using the Government Assistance Program, Section 8, as a way to provide for their illegitimate children and as a way to keep these women ‘out of the public eye and off the streets’ where they could expose the Politicians involved. The situation was discovered when questions were asked as to whether deceased Local Politician, Robert Fortes, had in fact placed one or two women on the roles of the Government Program in an effort to provide for his illegitimate children and in an effort to ‘buy the silence’ of their mothers. His wife Pamela Fortes is not the only wife or widow of a Politician who is shrinking from the unbelievable chagrin and disgrace of the general situation. Apparently, it is being discovered that more than a few US Politicians have been doing similar things. This situation reeks of the height of irony as The Americans are so accustomed to lecturing others around the World on what is right and proper to do.

  • August 19, 2015 at 4:27 pm
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    I believe you Gomezz about buying Cubita coffee in your supermarket in Canada. I saw a display in a Loblaw owned store in Ontario in October 2014. It was the first Cuban produced coffee I had seen in a long time as in Cuba there was a prolonged period where the only places it was obtainable were the tourist resorts – like that store that lies kitty corner to the Iberostar in Trinidad. Eventually the shortage was resolved by the regime purchasing Melia coffee packed in Spain and which served as a substitute for Cuban coffee in the military owned stores. Spain is not a coffee producer but purchases from Columbia and Brazil to pack and re-export.
    Coffee sadly is just one of the Cuban agricultural products with declining production. An area like Terrazas which boasted over 50 coffee producers now has none.
    Cocoa production in Cuba is similarly low, although the plant at Baracoa initiated by Ernesto Guevara still operates.
    Make up your mind, is the embargo an embargo? Have you actually ever seen a physical dead donkey?

  • August 19, 2015 at 3:34 pm
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    You make an intelligent argument. I don’t agree with you but I respect your point of view. My comment is simply that if the US chose not to pay reparations to Vietnam, against whom we fought a war, there is NO way that we pay Cuba. Not a snowball’s chance. ….

  • August 19, 2015 at 11:33 am
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    Sorry Moses, the USA really should very well have paid billions in compensation to Vietnam. Remember who made an excuse to start the war. Not Vietnam. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_of_Tonkin_incident Ho Chi Minh has repeatedly asked for US support against French colonialism. Remember his letter to President Truman http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon2/hochiminh/ The Vietnamese declaration of independence was based on the American declaration of independence. http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon2/hochiminh/ On Vietnam your country has a lot to answer for. And for the record this does not excuse any current human rights violations in Vietnam https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/asia-and-the-pacific/viet-nam/

  • August 18, 2015 at 2:17 pm
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    Put the crack pipe down! It’s nuts to think the US will pay one red cent (get it? Red….commie?) to the Castros. We had an embargo on China, Vietnam and Burma. When we lifted the embargo on these countries, did we pay reparations? Hell no!!! Why in the F*CK would we pay a piss-ant government like the Castros if we didn’t pay China? Gomezz, get this through your head. ….we don’t need Cuba. Cuba needs the US. What that diaper-wearing, addled old man says means nothing. It’s the fact that you can dare imagine that the US would do such a thing is the reason a wacko like Donald Trump is so popular here in the US. The US needs to reassert ourselves on the world stage so that lefties like you think twice before spouting such nonsense. Be glad that Obama is legacy-building. That’s the only reason we are talking to Cuba. Given your expressed support of the Castro regime, you should pray that a Democrat is elected President. A Republican Congress AND a Republican President and you can kiss lifting the embargo while the Castros are alive goodbye. As far as raising my taxes goes, I would gladly kick in a little more to double, even triple the $20 million a year we spend for regime change in Cuba.

  • August 18, 2015 at 11:30 am
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    Beggar nation is not my label. It is a UN label used to describe countries whose economic output is insufficient to purchase the necessary imports to feed and clothe their population. While you care to project a rosy future, likely for propaganda purposes, the increase in outmigration paints an entirely different picture. Cubans who LIVE in Cuba do not share your views. One last point, the US does NOT need Cuba’s nickel. The Castros have been telling that lie for 40 years. If you add up ALL the cocoa, cigars, rum, and all other trinkets that you can gather, it still isn’t enough to get excited about. Do the math yourself.

  • August 18, 2015 at 9:13 am
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    Your hatred of Fidel and Raúl is only surpassed by your inability to tell the truth, Fidel and Raúl are very good at math and have been keeping tally and count of all the expensive damage you have done to us; it’s time to pay up, Moses! (I hope your taxes are raised as a consequence)

  • August 18, 2015 at 9:05 am
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    Moses, stop, take a breath and stop telling lies about my country, calling us a beggar nation and dismissing everyone who disagrees with your constant tirade of BS. You could not invent something bad enough to put it beyond the USA, the world’s # 1 Terrorist State. Cuba is coming into it’s own now; yesterday I bought Cubita Coffee at my Canadian Supermarket, our Nickel reserves are most coveted by the USA and the Cigar biz is booming once again. Cuban Cocoa is being bought big time by Lindt (Switzerland) and there are more and more international tourists every year, many more will come from the USA to make our economy more and more buoyant. Yes, pay for the damage you have done with the embargo, clear out of Guantánamo and drop the Dead Donkey (the Blockade) now!

  • August 15, 2015 at 8:00 am
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    First off, I would suggest that you all read a book “Back Channel To Cuba” even President Kennedy wanted to renew relations with Cuba and most of the Presidents thereafter. It is over, all your rhetoric is not going to change the course that has been set. Moses your nasty comments are uncalled for regarding your comment ” Cubans in general, really want is more US money”.

    Most everyone,in the U.S. and Countries throughout the world acknowledge that this embargo is a crime and needs to be lifted. This embargo will never achieve the goal it was set up to do. There is a saying “It is hard to read the label when your are inside the bottle” It is time to get outside the bottle and take a real look at the benefits or damage the embargo has served both citizens of the U.S. and Cuba.

    If there is going to be a change in Cuba it is not up to us to make that change but the Cuban People that live there.

    As far as reparation for U.S. companies, why? As I understand from my research most of these companies exploited Cuba, i.e., United Fruit Company that payed slave wages and controlled 75% of the best agricultural land in Cuba. And that stupid argument by the Senator that Americans would be flying into an airport that was stolen from the U.S. is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. His father served in the Government of Batista — how much money did Batista and his cronies steal from the Cuban People? Which I might ad, with the knowledge of the U.S. Government. And under the Batista Government the country was also controlled by the Mafia. Cuba, at that time, was nothing but a playland and whore house for tourists from America and other countries.

    Give it up, you and your dissenters are out of step with the rest of the country. Relations with Cuba are good for Cuba and good the U.S.

  • August 14, 2015 at 1:12 pm
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    By whose accounting does Fidel arrive at his figure? If the question was good cigars, decent rum or casino salsa, their opinion would carry weight. But does anybody think the Castros are good at math? They can’t feed or clothe themselves and without their nurse maid Venezuela, they would be in the dark as well. Let’s leave the bookkeeping to greater minds.

  • August 14, 2015 at 12:33 pm
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    Let’s also not forget that it was Fidel Castro who further precipitated the Americans’ departure from Cuba when Castro told most diplomats at the US embassy to go home besides of course all the ex-appropriations of American-owned businesses and assets. Who owes who money?

  • August 13, 2015 at 10:43 pm
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    Pedro …stop. Take a breath. Tell the truth. What the Castros, and in only this case, also Cubans in general, really want is more US money. Venezuela’s teat is drying up. Russia, China and Brazil have not shown any interest in adopting an historic beggar nation like Cuba. If they were, Raul would still be saying stupid anti-US crap. As it is, his addled older brother is still mumbling about the US paying for the embargo. ….’never gonna happen. The truth Pedro is that your country is out of options. President Obama is just the most recent US President to make googly eyes at Cuba. This time Raul responded. Get this straight, the US does not need Cuba. Cuba, on the other hand, NEEDS the US. Stop making this sound like normalizing relations with Cuba will help my 401k. It won’t. This is strictly a “good deal for Cuba ” kinda’ deal

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