Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — “(…) we will continue to urge the Cuban Government to fulfill its obligations under the UN and inter-American human rights covenants.” – John Kerry
Asking Raul Castro’s government to fully guarantee freedom of expression, information and association is not interfering in the internal affairs of Cuba, nor does it encroach upon the nation’s sovereignty in and of itself. It is equally just to demand that the United States put an end to the blockade, return the territory occupied by the Guantanamo naval base and negotiate financial compensation for the more than fifty years of conflict, characterized by blood, sweat and tears.
Speaking at the Hotel Nacional, a smiling Cuban foreign minister made this statement:
“Cuba feels proud of its record in terms of guaranteeing full, indivisible, interdependent and universal human rights, as well as civil liberties, political, economic, social and cultural rights for all Cuban men and women, and, we hope, for every citizen on the planet as well.”
Proclaiming collective human rights – the paradigm of a decadent authoritarian socialism – is a joke when the average salary, according to official figures, is barely 25 dollars a month, infectious and contagious diseases propagate across the country unchecked, high-performance athletes are leaving the country en masse, State-owned cattle are dying by the thousands and, to cut a long list short, hundreds of thousands of Cubans in several provinces cannot even be supplied with drinking water on a daily basis.
With characteristic Anglo-Saxon straightforwardness, Kerry summarized the paranoia of communist propaganda regarding the United States:
“I hear it from a number of other countries in the world when we talk to them about human rights (…): ‘Well, you guys have Ferguson, you guys have Brown who was killed.’ (…) It’s not on a par, it’s not the government … not an administration, not a pervasive government policy that we effect. It’s just not. (…) That’s a huge distinction.”
Trapped in its existential predicament, forced to eke out a living every day (one is tempted to coin the expression “the Cuban way of life” to describe this state of affairs), the majority of the population is distanced from the kind of civic awareness that was taught at schools in the first fifty years of the Cuban republic, that longing for freedom that helped Fidel Castro’s cause against Fulgencio Batista so much. Such values were subsequently curtailed by more than fifty years of a command system, under a single Party and a democracy that boiled down to raising one’s hand on request.
On the one hand, the socialist abomination has failed and salvation comes from abroad. On the other, public awareness is dormant and only gradually being awakened.
The country’s dependence on what lies beyond its borders amplifies its internal contradictions. Thanks to inevitable exchange, the number of Cubans who are exposed to the democratic values they are denied at home grows every day. US demands would be satisfied with the adoption of the rights that have been accepted by the new left-wing constitutions of Latin America, characteristic of the Cuban government’s best allies today.
“There’s no way Congress is going to lift the embargo if you (Cubans) do not move in terms of matters of conscience,” Kerry said in Havana.
Forgetting about recalcitrant spirits like Rubio, Bush and others in Miami, the United States’ gesture is serious and well-founded. It stems from the curtailment of an aggressive policy and the ditching of numerous political banners that had justified repression in Cuba till now, practices inherited by the current pragmatic and reformist administration, whether Raul Castro likes it or not.
A few votes in Congress would suffice to dismantle all claims surrounding the blockade and territorial aggression. Compensation for damages would involve a long, nearly endless discussion, but the lifting of restrictions on tourism would mean an unprecedented boost for the Cuban economy.
Will Raul Castro and his supposed successors be willing to negotiate what the United States had refused to till now, in exchange for a fully democratic country? What sort of socialism lies ahead of us? Will the experiences of Latin American governments who have become Fidel Castro’s step-sons be of any use?
An end to the blockade. The return of the Guantanamo naval base. Just compensation for economic damages caused by fifty years of aggressions against the Cuban people.
Full and inalienable rights (of expression, information and association).
The United States has the real capability, economic prowess and political will to address the demands of the Cuban government.
The other answer is in the hands of the autocracy that governs my country today.
To put it using a Cuban idiom: “the table has been served.”
Vicente Morín Aguado: email@example.com