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

  • 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.

  • Glad to bring a little mirth into your life!

  • What does this have to do with US/Cuban relations?

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