Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — We have been hearing rumors in Havana that a majority within the country’s opposition, extremely put off by the decisions arrived at by Obama and Raul Castro after 18 months of secret negotiations (decisions which shocked almost the entire world) are planning protests on the island. Secrecy and resentment define the postures of this opposition, now in the rather contradictory position of opposing the leaders of the two countries.
This opposition shared in the surprise and resentment prompted in Havana and Miami by the decisions announced on December 17, 2014. If they are insisting that much remains to be done (and this will always be the case), their position is understandable. What defies common sense is to oppose what is undoubtedly a step forward in history.
If one were to count the number of US soldiers who died in combat against their Cuban adversaries, one would not need more than the fingers in one’s hand. The opposite is also true. Vietnam stands in stark contrast to our long “confrontation.”
Obama said it clearly: “It is clear that decades of US isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous and stable Cuba. Though this policy has been rooted in the best of intentions, it has had little effect – today, as in 1961, Cuba is governed by the Castros and the Communist party.”
To quote a Republican, in his immense treaty on China, the paradigm of diplomacy Henry Kissinger wrote: “ (…) human rights progress is generally better reached by a policy of engagement. Once enough confidence has been established, changes in civil practice can be advocated in the name of common purposes or at least the preservation of a common interest.”
Kissinger was Nixon’s Secretary of State. Nixon, in turn, was US Vice-President during the Eisenhower administration and, in 1959, wrote the first accurate portrayal of Fidel Castro. Now, it’s a question of arriving at a “realpolitik”, a term which suggests common sense should prevail over emotional considerations.
Addressing the so-called “Cuban émigré community”, the question is: who could Obama have negotiated with? Are there any Cuban leaders in the United States who have any negotiating power? Of course, it would have been impossible to do so with Ros Lethinen, Diaz Balart or Marco Rubio – these are US citizens and congress people.
Before crossing over to the other side, I can confidently say that there has never been a serious effort in Miami to promote an opposition leader in Cuba who could serve as an international public figure, not even the late Paya Sardiñas. In fact, I recall that they did little to support him and that they were quite divided on his intelligent Proyecto Varela proposal.
In Cuba, even though I respect the integrity of the Ladies in White and praise the contribution of independent journalists who have more or less attained recognition outside of Cuba (not to mention the defiance of political prisoners and their hunger strikes), I ask the same question: could Obama have negotiated with any member of Cuba’s opposition in the country? Would that have been a case of realpolitik?
The negotiations were conducted over 18 months. There was no improvisation to it, which is something that is making those who would keep motionless the wheels of history still livid.
Put simply, one negotiates with those who have the capacity to fulfill the agreement. That is what Nixon and Kissinger did with Mao without asking for any apologies – it was a case of realpolitik. Let us not forget Vietnam, where over 57 thousand US soldiers died in combat and 3,200 US planes were downed.
Clinton was honored to visit the cousins of the Uncle Ho, a man who Fidel Castro once called “the most extraordinary Marxist-Leninist in Asia.”
Human memory is frail, which is why it is so important to revisit the past.
I feel no pity for the minority that stands to lose from all the rapprochement, after “living off” the media war for many years while the majority suffered. I do feel ashamed for those who applaud a failed policy and dare not consider something different and better.
I won’t join the ranks of the furious. I will join the daring, thinking how to pursue a realpolitik with them.
Vicente Morin Aguado: email@example.com