Raul Castro Lays Out Conditions to USA

The Third CELAC Summit in Costa Rica.

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban President Raul Castro addressed the III Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) on Wednesday in Costa Rica. He spoke on regional topics such as integration and social justice and concluded with an explanation of his government’s position in the negotiations begun with the United States.

The following is the official translation of his full speech.

President Raul Castro speaks to the Third CELAC Summit in Costa Rica

Esteemed President Luis Guillermo Solis; Esteemed Head of State and Government of Latin America and the Caribbean; Esteemed Heads of the Delegations and guests accompanying us:

Our America has entered a new era and has advanced, since the creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, in its goals of independence, sovereignty over its natural resources, integration, the construction of a new world order, social justice and democracy of the people, by the people and for the people.

Today there is a commitment to justice and the rights of the peoples which is superior to that in any other historical period. Together, we are the third largest economy in the world, the area with the second largest oil reserves, the greatest biodiversity on the planet and a high concentration of the globe’s mineral resources.

To develop unity within diversity, cohesive action, and respect for differences will remain our primary purpose and an inescapable necessity, because the world’s problems are serious, and great dangers and tough challenges persist which transcend national and even sub-regional possibilities. Over the past decade, economic and social policies and sustained growth have allowed us to confront the global economic crisis and made possible a reduction in poverty, unemployment and unequal income distribution.

The profound political and social transformations carried out in several countries in the region have brought dignity to millions of families who have escaped poverty. But the Latin America and Caribbean region remains the most unequal on the planet. On average, 20% of households with the lowest incomes receive 5% of total income; 167 million people still suffer from poverty, one in five children under-15 live in poverty, and the number of illiterates exceeds 35 million. Half of our youth do not have secondary education or a ninth grade education, but, in the lower income sector, 78% do not complete their studies. Two thirds of the new generation does not reach university.

The number of victims of organized crime and violence, which threatens the stability and progress of nations, is increasing. What would be the thoughts of the tens of millions of marginalized on democracy and human rights? What would their opinion be regarding political models? What would they argue about election laws? Is this the civil society which governments and international organizations take into account? What would they say if they were consulted on economic and monetary policies?

Little do many of the industrialized States have to show our region in this respect, where half of youth are unemployed, the crisis is heaped onto the workers, and students are repressed while the bankers are protected, unionization is prevented, lower wages are paid to women for equal work, inhumane policies are applied against immigrants, racism, xenophobia, violent extremism and neo-fascist tendencies are on the rise, and where citizens do not vote because they see no alternative to political corruption, or they know that election promises are soon forgotten.

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez and President Raul Castro. Foto: Estudios Revolución

To achieve social inclusion and environmental sustainability, we are obliged to create our own vision regarding economic systems, patterns of production and consumption, the relationship between economic growth and development, and also, the effectiveness of political models.

We must overcome the structural gaps; ensure high quality free education, free universal health coverage, social security for all, equal opportunities, and the full exercise of all human rights for all people. Within such efforts, an elementary duty will be solidarity and defense of the interests of the Caribbean and, in particular, Haiti.

A new international economic, financial and monetary order is required, where the interests and needs of the countries of the South, and of the majority, are accommodated and prioritized, in which those who impose the concentration of capital and neoliberalism does not prevail.

The [UN] post 2015 Development Agenda must provide solutions to the structural problems of economies of the region, and generate the changes that will lead to sustainable development. It is also essential to build a world of peace, governed by the Principles of the United Nations Charter and International Law, without which development is impossible,

The signing by heads of state and government of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace marked a historic step forward and provides a reference for relations between our states and with the rest of the world. Solidarity in Our America will be decisive to advancing common interests.

We express vigorous condemnation of the unacceptable and unjustified unilateral sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and the continuing external intervention aimed at creating a climate of instability in this sister nation.

Cuba, profoundly familiar with all these tales, having endured them itself for over 50 years, reiterates its firmest support to the Bolivarian Revolution and the legitimate government led by President Nicolas Maduro.

We join the Argentine Republic in its claim to the Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas. We support the South American nation and it’s President Cristina Fernández, who faces attacks from hedge funds and the decisions of venal courts, in violation of the sovereignty of this country.

We reaffirm our solidarity with the people and government of Ecuador, led by Rafael Correa, in support of their demand for compensation for environmental damage caused by transnational Chevron in Ecuador’s Amazon. As we have said before, the Community will be incomplete as long as Puerto Rico is absent. Its colonial situation is unacceptable, and it’s Latin American and Caribbean character leaves no room for doubt.

In the Colombian peace process, the agreements reached by the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army in the conversations taking place in Havana are significant. Never before have they advanced so much in the direction of achieving peace.

Cuba, in its capacity as guarantor and venue of these talks, will continue providing the necessary facilities and contributing as much as possible to an end to the conflict, and the construction of a just and lasting peace in the sister nation of Colombia. We resolutely support, as we have done to date, the just demands of Caribbean countries for reparations for the damages caused by slavery and colonialism, as well as resolutely opposing the decision to deprive them of vital financial resources on the basis of technocratic pretexts characterizing them as middle-income countries. We recognize the excellent developments achieved in the CELAC-China Forum and regional links with the BRICS group.

We reiterate our concern regarding the enormous and growing military expenditures imposed on the world by the United States and NATO, such as the attempt to extend their aggressive presence to the borders of Russia, with which we have historic, fraternal and mutually beneficial relations. We energetically oppose the imposition of unilateral and unjust sanctions on this nation. The growing aggression of the NATO military doctrine and the development of unconventional warfare – which have already had devastating consequences and grave results – threaten peace and international security.

For Cuba, the principal of the sovereign equality of all states and peoples’ right to self-determination is inalienable.

The United Nations General Assembly must use its faculties to safeguard international peace and security, given the Security Council’s double standards, excesses and omissions.

Full membership must be offered to Palestine without further delay, to which the people and government of Cuba convey their solidarity.

The Security Council’s veto, which ensures that Israel’s crimes go unpunished, must end. Africa, where our roots also lie, does not need advice or interference, but the transfer of financial resources, technology and fair trade. We will forever defend the legitimate interests of the nations with which we struggle, should to shoulder, against colonialism and apartheid, and with which we maintain relations of fraternity and cooperation.

We always remember their unwavering solidarity and support. Cuba’s voice will tirelessly defend just causes and the interests of Southern countries and will remain faithful to their objectives and common positions, in the knowledge that homeland is humanity.

The foreign policy of the Cuban Revolution will remain faithful to its principles.

Esteemed colleagues:

Foto: Estudios Revolución

Last December 17, saw the return to the homeland of Cuban anti-terrorists, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, who together with Fernando González and René González are a source of pride and an example of conviction.

The President of the United States acknowledged the failure of the nation’s policy toward Cuba, implemented for over 50 years; the country’s complete isolation as a result; the damages which the blockade has caused to our people; and has ordered a review of the obviously unjustifiable inclusion of the island on the list of state sponsors of international terrorism. Also on that day, he announced the decision to reestablish U.S. diplomatic relations with our government.

These changes are the result of almost a century and a half of heroic struggle and loyalty to principles of the Cuban people. They were also made possible thanks to the new era our region is experiencing, and to the firm, valiant demands made by the governments and peoples of CELAC.

These changes vindicate Our America, which worked in close collaboration, in the United Nations and all other spheres, to achieve this objective. Preceded by the Alba Summit in Cumana, Venezuela, the discussions held in the 2009 Summit of the Americas in Puerto España, Trinidad and Tobago, led President Obama, and at that time recently elected, to propose a new beginning with Cuba. In Cartagena, Colombia, in 2012, a strong debate took place in which the blockade was unanimously and categorically rejected, compelling an important U.S. leader to describe the occasion as the great failure of Cartagena, or disaster – was the exact phrase – and during which Cuba’s exclusion from these events was debated.

Ecuador, in protest, had decided not to participate. Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia stated that they would not attend another summit without the presence of Cuba, a sentiment which received support from Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

The Caribbean Community assumed a similar stance. Mexico and the remaining nations also agreed. Panamanian President, Juan Carlos Varela, before his inauguration, resolutely announced that he would invite Cuba, with full rights and equality of conditions, to the Seventh Summit of the Americas, and that is what he did.

Cuba immediately confirmed that it would attend. This demonstrates Marti’s precision when he wrote “One just principle from the depths of a cave is more powerful than an army.” (Applause) To all those present, I express Cuba’s most profound gratitude. To the 188 states which voted against the blockade in the United Nations; to those who made a similar demand at the General Assembly and international summits and conferences; and to all the popular movements, political forces, parliaments and personalities who tirelessly worked to achieve this objective, on behalf of Cuba, I sincerely thank you. To the people of the United States who expressed growing opposition to the hostile policy and the blockade, imposed for over five decades, I also convey our appreciation and friendly sentiments.

These outcomes show that governments with profound differences can find a solution to their problems, through respectful dialogue and exchanges on the basis of sovereign equality and reciprocity, for the benefit of their respective nations.

As I have repeatedly stated, Cuba and the United States must learn the art of civilized co-existence, based on respect for the differences which exist between both governments and cooperation on issues of common interest, which contribute to solving the challenges we are facing in the hemisphere and the world. However, it must not be supposed that, in order to achieve this, Cuba would renounce its ideals of independence and social justice, or abandon a single one of our principles, nor cede a millimeter in the defense of our national sovereignty.

We will not invite, or accept any attempt to advise or exert pressure in regards in our internal affairs. We have earned this sovereign right through great sacrifices and at the price of great risks.

Could diplomatic relations be restored without resuming the financial services of the Cuban Interests Section and its Consular Office in Washington, denied as a consequence of the financial blockade? How can diplomatic relations be restored without removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of international terrorism? What will be the future conduct of U.S. diplomats in Havana, in regards to observing the diplomatic and consular norms established by International Conventions?

This is what our delegation has said to the State Department during the bilateral talks held last week, and more meetings are required to address these issues.

We have shared with the President of the United States our willingness to advance toward normalization of bilateral relations, once diplomatic relations are reestablished, which would imply the adopting of measures by both parties to improve the climate between the two countries, to resolve other pending problems, and move forward on cooperation.

The current situation discreetly opens an opportunity for the hemisphere to encounter new, superior ways to cooperate, which would serve the two Americas. This would allow pressing problems to be resolved, and open new paths.

The text of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace constitutes an indispensable foundation for this, including the recognition that every state has the inalienable right to choose its own political, economic, social, cultural system, without interference of any kind on the part of another state, which constitutes an undeniable principle of international law, The principal problem has not been resolved.

The economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes great human and economic damage and violates international law, must end.

I remember the memorandum written by Undersecretary Mallory, in April of 1960, which, given the lack of an effective political opposition [in Cuba], proposed the objective of creating hunger, desperation and suffering to provoke the overthrow of the revolutionary government. Now, everything seems to indicate that the objective is to create an artificial political opposition though economic, political and communications means.

The reestablishment of diplomatic relations is the beginning of a process which can progress toward normalization of bilateral relations, but this will not be possible as long as the blockade exists, or as long as the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base is not returned (Applause), or radio and television broadcasts which violate international norms continue, or just compensation is not provided our people for the human and economic damage they have suffered.

It would not be ethical, just, or acceptable that something was requested of Cuba in return.

If these problems are not resolved, this diplomatic rapprochement between Cuba and the United States makes no sense.

Neither can it be expected that Cuba would agree to negotiate aspects mentioned with respect to our absolutely sovereign, internal affairs. Progress was made in these recent negotiations because we treated each other respectfully, as equals.

To continue advancing, this is how it must be. We have carefully followed the U.S. President’s announcement of some executive decisions to modify certain aspects of the blockade’s application. The measures announced are very limited.

Prohibitions on credit and the use of the dollar in international financial transactions remain in place; individual travel by U.S. citizens is hampered under the system of licenses for so-called people-to-people exchanges; these are conditioned by subversive goals; and maritime travel is not allowed.

Prohibitions remain on the acquisition in other markets of equipment and technology with more than 10% U.S. components, and on imports by the United States of goods containing Cuban raw materials, among many, many others. President Barack Obama could decisively use his broad executive powers to substantially modify the application of the blockade, that which is in his hands, even without a decision by Congress.

He could permit, in other sectors of the economy, all that he has authorized in the area of telecommunications, with evident objectives of political influence in Cuba.

His decision to hold a discussion with Congress on eliminating the blockade is significant. U.S. government spokespeople have been very clear in specifying that they are now changing their methods, but not their policy objectives, and insist on continuing to intervene in our internal affairs, which we are not going to accept. Our U.S. counterparts should not plan on developing relations with Cuban society as if there were no sovereign government in Cuba.

No one should dream that the new policy announced means acceptance of the existence of a socialist revolution 90 miles from Florida.

They want so-called civil society to be present at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, and this is what Cuba has always said. We have protested what has occurred at the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle, at the Summits of the Americas in Miami and Quebec, at the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit, and whenever the G-7 or International Monetary Fund meet, when civil society is placed behind steel fences, faces brutal police repression, or is confined to locations dozens of kilometers from the events.

Of course Cuban civil society will attend, and I hope there are no restrictions on our country’s non-governmental organizations, which obviously have no interest, or any status within the OAS, but are recognized by the UN.

I hope to be able to see in Panama the popular movements and non-governmental organizations which advocate for nuclear disarmament, for the environment, against neoliberalism, the Occupy Wall Street and the indignados of this region, university and high school students, farmers, trade unions, communities of original peoples, organizations which oppose the contamination caused by fracking, those defending the rights of immigrants and denouncing torture and extrajudicial executions, police brutality, racist practices, those who demand equal pay for women for equal work, those demanding compensation for damage caused by transnational corporations.

Nevertheless, the announcements made December 17 have generated world recognition, and President Obama has received very broad support within his own country. Some forces in the United States will try to abort this process which is beginning.

They are the same enemies of a just relationship between the United States and Latin America and the Caribbean, those who disrupt bilateral relations with many countries in our region with that nation, those who always blackmail and pressure.

We know that ending the blockade will be a long, difficult process, which will require the support, the mobilization and resolute action of all persons of good will in the United States and the world; approval on the part of the United Nations General Assembly, during its next session, of the resolution calling for its elimination; and in particular, concerted action by Our America.

Esteemed heads of state and government, Dear friends, We congratulate Costa Rica, President Solís and his government for the work done at the helm of CELAC. We welcome and offer our full support to Ecuador and President Correa, who will lead the Community in 2015. Many thanks



28 thoughts on “Raul Castro Lays Out Conditions to USA

  • Thank you for the correction. I mixed up the dates. My point was that the Platt Ammendment was repealed in 1934. Therefore it is not an issue with respect to the continuing use of The naval base at Guantanamo.

    Cuba is within her rights to demand an end to the lease. However, the U.S. is within her rights to insist on negotiations to end the lease. The base is on sovereign Cuba territory, but the base also consists of billions of dollars of US assets in buildings, wharves, air base, roads & etc. The U.S. is not going to simply hand over those assets without compensation.

  • By accepting payment, the Cuban government made a legal function called “implied consent”. That’s the point the U.S. government argues, whether you agree with it or not. The Cuban government argues that the base is on sovereign Cuban territory, (which the treaty acknowledges) and therefore they have a right to kick the Yankees out. Both arguments carry some legal weight. Ultimately, they will have to hammer out an agreement.

    To have a modern naval base so close to the U.S. would be a huge strategic bonus to the Russians. US military doctrine is adamantly opposed to giving the Russians a gift like that.

  • You are missing the point that the US claims that by accepting one payment this somehow showed Cuban agreement with the treaty (which they obviously don’t). So if the transition from Batista to Urrutia is significant in this, then the transition to Fidel and Raul must be also.

    You make the classic Conservative mistake of mixing up nominal democracy with legitimate democracy. Cuba’s position wasn’t a truly independent state but in fact a colony in which the US had final say over everything. In those circumstances it couldn’t enter into a treaty of its own free will. Would any country agree to an annual payment that remains the same for ever without taking into consideration inflation!!

    Could you supply some evidence for all the assertions you make in your third paragraph. They all sound very dubious.

  • No. The Platt Amendment was included in the 1901 constitution and so had a bearing on the Treaty of 1903.

    Re Hong kong “On 29 August 1842, the cession was formally ratified in the Treaty of Nanking, which ceded Hong Kong “in perpetuity” to Britain. Since the foreign powers had agreed by the late 19th century that it was no longer permissible to acquire outright sovereignty over any parcel of Chinese territory, and in keeping with the other territorial cessions China made to Russia, Germany and France that same year, the extension of Kong Hong took the form of a 99-year lease.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Hong_Kong.

    The legitimacy of the current government in Cuba isn’t relevant in the same way as the government in China was in regard to Hong Kong.

  • You are right. There is a treaty. Would it survive a legal challenge today? Perhaps. Can it survive public scrutiny? That is less likely. Many people would ask, “If the US got a base on Cuban soil, with no time limit, what did Cuba get?”

  • The Platt Amendment was signed after the Treaty of 1903. Most political leaders in Cuba at the time objected to the treaty, but after much debate a majority of the committee voted to accept it. When the Platt Amendment was repudiated and rendered void in 1934, the treaty to maintain the US naval base in Guantanamo was extended.

    Hong Kong was ceded to the British on a 99 year lease. When the else came due, the Chinese were within their rights to tell the British to leave.

    I’m not arguing that the US has a clear-cut and honest right to keep the base there. But then again, the Castro dictatorship doesn’t exactly have a clear-cut and honest right to rule over Cuba either. Let the Cuban people decide who shall form their government, then they can tell the US to leave Guantanamo.

  • The transition from Fidel to Raul, and before that, from the figurehead Urrutia to Fidel, were transitions within the same republic. The current president doesn’t get to repudiate all treaties and laws signed by previous presidents.

    One could argue that when a revolution overthrows a dictator like Batista who usurped power illegally, the new government is not bound to treaties or laws signed by the dictator. However, the Treaty of 1903 which granted the US the right to the naval base in Guantanamo was not signed by Batista. It was signed by the first democratically elected president of Cuba, Tomás Estrada Palma.

    The Russian navy sends small ships to port in Havana. That’s a modest presence and it still annoys the US. The US naval base in Guantanamo is a large, modern naval facility built at significant cost by the US. They do not want it handed over to their chief geopolitical rival, Russia.

  • Actually I was thinking more of Raul taking over. So technically a different administration, but the same applies with Urrutia. Who ever the power behind the throne isn’t relevant. You could also say that the constitution has changed since the payment was made so again not legally relevant.

    Where is the evidence that the US worries that it will be used by Russia or China and that this is the sticking point. Russia sends vessels to Cuba all the time – they don’t need Guantanamo. If you’re saying that they wish to set up a permanent base there, I would doubt that very much or that the Cubans would want to give it over to them. The issue for Cuba is their right of sovereignty and self-determination. For the US it is just a matter of silly politics.

  • There are many reasons to think that the treaty should be void. Including the fact that it was signed under duress ie the Platt amendment was in force. That the agreement is inconsistent in itself – how can it be Cuba have sovereignty over the land if they can’t take it back. Changing circumstances – these colonial era open ended treaties have been overturned eg Hong Kong which was put under a lease – also since the treaty was signed under a different constitution and several different administrations have been in place since it shouldn’t be considered binding. The US has broken a number of the terms of the treaty – the camp is specifically for coaling and naval purposes, not commercial nor as a prison camp. I recommend the following link –
    http://www.alfreddezayas.com/Lectures/GUANTANAMOlecture2.doc

  • You don’t see a disaster in Syria??? Over 200,000 dead already, ISIS established in large part of the county and no clear end in site? Looks pretty disastrous to me.

    And when Iran gets their nukes, we will see a disaster sure enough.

    Thankfully, Cuba is not a violent mess like Syria. I prey it does not follow that path.

    If US businesses in Cuba earn more than they spend, the cash flow will run form other U.S. businesses. The Cuban system itself will not produce wealth.

    I agree with you the Castro regime is dying. I just don’t rhing the U.S. should help ease the process and aid the orderly transition to the next generation of the Castro regime.

  • I have read your criticisms of Obama’s “red line” in Syria, his slowed nuclear negotiations in Iran, “reset” with Russia and his decision to leave Iraq. All valid criticisms. But in each case, and several others, the disaster that critics predicted would take place, did not or has not taken place. At least not yet. Obama is simply not a “rush in with guns blazing”-style President. His more deliberative methods appear weaker at first but I remain convinced in the longer run he toughens his stance and ultimately gets to the same place as the more hardline stance without the bluster. In this case, I believe (hopeful at the very least) that Obama has well anticipated the Castros counter-moves and is willing to give and maybe give some more because he realizes that the Castros will ultimately balk. Even a million more American tourists will not save the regime economically. US businesses in Cuba will earn more than they spend. The increased visibility that US interests in Cuba will provoke in the US media will spotlight the corruption and tyranny of the regime at least as much as the US dollars will pay for increase in human rights abuses. Finally, maybe in the end, Cuban dissidents will finally get there act together and step out for themselves. If real change in Cuba is possible it will have to come from within anyway.

  • Not just analysts: that is precisely the excuse Obama gave in his speeches on the subject. I doubt it will actually have the affect of improving good will towards the US from Latin America. But Obama does seem unnaturally moved in that regard; to try to have people who hate the US love him. It’s a personality trait unbecoming of a leader.

  • Posturing for domestic consumption. The U.S. needs Cuba a lot less than the Cuban’s want in on international finance, trade and US tourism. Each side needs to posture. For Obama this is a legacy issue “man that opened Havana”. He is going to look good in a llayavera. He does not need any economic benefit. He has no pressure. He is not going to bend to Raul, that would make him look weak.

    Raul has to look like he is driving a hard bargain while he takes Obama’s hand. If he is in fact delusional, then he is in for a surprise. Obama does not like being pushed. He will give Raul only so much. Taking Cuba off state sponsor of terrorism is eassy since U.S. took North Korea off. Much of the rest is all a bag of words.

    It is looking more and more like GOP will win U.S. Presidency. Raul, should get what he can while he can. Or he better figure out how to get Hillary elected.

  • It doesn’t look like Obama is going to hand over the US naval base at Guantanamo to Raul:

    “US rejects Cuba demand to hand back Guantanamo Bay base”

    US President Barack Obama “does believe that the prison at Guantanamo Bay should be closed down… but not the naval base”, the White House said.

    The Cuban government which came to power in the revolution of 1959 has long demanded its return, saying it is a violation of international law, but the US points to a legal provision making the lease permanent unless it is terminated by mutual agreement.”

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-31059030

  • There is a view of history which states that revolutions happen, not when the people are most oppressed, but when they see things are starting to get a little bit better but their expectations are thwarted.

    That may be exactly the situation the Castro regime is facing.

  • The payments were accepted for the first few months of 1959, “by mistake” when the Revolution had just taken over and exactly who was in charge was unclear. Manuel Urrutia was nominally president, but the real power was already with Fidel.

    The treaty states that the land & sea remains sovereign Cuban territory. But it also says the US gets to rent it for as long as the US says they want it.

    Strategically, it’s not a significant base for the US Navy and hasn’t been for decades. But the Americans do not want Cuba to allow Russia or China to use it for their navies. That’s the sticking point.

  • I don’t believe these demands are a deal breaker. They are just a rebuttal to the U.S. demands. If you read our demands they are no more realistic than Cuba’s. It is just a political ploy by both parties to satisfy the demands of those who are against the new relations between our countries.

    The actual sentence for leasing the land to the U.S for a naval base in that treaty reads as follows:

    “The Republic of Cuba hereby leases to the United States, for the time required for the purposes of coaling and naval stations, the following described areas of land and water situated in the Island of Cuba”

    The key words in that statement are “for the time required for the purpose ”

    In my opinion, this is all smoke and mirrors.

  • Prudent comments and points!

  • bjmack, that’s exactly my feeling too. I think the Cuban government would be completely overwhelmed by the groundswell of expectation within the Cuban population once fully normalized relations are realized with the US. If massive disappointment then ensues due to a lack of expected change in Cuba, that disappointment could very quickly morph into massive angry protests, and things could rapidly spin out of control and reach a tipping point.

  • I think it is possible for people to be enthused about American technology and still be critical of US foreign policy. According to some analysts, Obama changed US policy toward Cuba because the previous policy had made the US look stupid and vindictive, thus undermining US influence in Latin America.

  • I’m not sure that the initial payment accepted by mistake would be relevant now given that there is a different president in power.
    I wouldn’t think that this would be a contentious issue. Even the Helms Burton Act says that it should be returned to Cuba at some point. Don’t think the US even want it. Compared to some of the issues this is a no-brainer.

  • The US right to build a naval base in Guantanamo was established in the Cuban-American Treaty of 1903, signed by the newly independent government of Cuba.

    “The treaty stipulates that Republic of Cuba lease to the United States specific lands in Cuba, most notably the land that surrounds Guantánamo Bay, for the purpose of coaling and naval stations, for as long as necessary. The lease stipulates that the United States “shall exercise complete jurisdiction and control”, while recognizing “the continuance of the ultimate sovereignty of the Republic of Cuba”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuban–American_Treaty

    The US pays a monthly rent for the use of the Cuban territory. Following the Cuban Revolution, the new government continued to accept this payment for a few months. However, Fidel soon stopped accepting the money and demanded the US withdraw from the base. The US argued that the Treaty gives them the right to continue to use the naval base, and that the acceptance of payment by the Revolutionary government constituted de facto acknowledgement of that right.

    The US continues to “pay” the rent, which is kept in a safe on the base. Cuba continues to refuse to accept the rent and demands the base be handed back.

    Needless to say, this too will be a thorny issue for Cuba & the US to work out if they are to normalize relations.

  • Convince people around the world? Don’t be naïve. Lower the price of iPhones 6s and all is forgiven. Gimme’ a break!

  • One of the unplanned effects of holding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay was that the attention of millions of people was drawn to the U. S. presence there. I expect many people were puzzled as to how the U. S. acquired this base. Many would wonder why the U. S. felt justified in holding the base.
    Was this part of a land swap? Does Cuba have a base in the U.S.?

    The U. S. is a powerful country and may be able to hold on to Guantanamo for some time to come. But can they convince people around the world that their presence there is legitimate?

  • One has to admire his chutzpah. Cuba needs this deal with the US a hell of a lot more than the US needs this deal with Cuba. In fact, the US could walk away right now, and although Obama might take a hit in approval polls on his left, he would make up for the loss on his right. “Hey, I tried”, I can hear him explain to the press.

    President Obama was known to enjoy playing a regular game of poker with his colleagues in the Illinois Senate. He should draw on that experience now and call Raul’s bluff. Tell the pipsqueak he was just offered the best deal in 55 years and turned it down, so screw him.

    The US can wait. The Castros? Not so much.

  • A few years ago I predicted that the Roman Catholic Church would be the conduit for change with the US. No big deal but it happened. I’ll predict one other change that will happen. It will occur with the latest opening up via Obama’s mandate a few weeks ago. Raul and Fidel will be gone sooner than later. It will happen quicker if we get rid of the embargo and there will be a coup or something similar with some insiders knowing that these characters are so out of touch with the real world that those who are holding up the rapid transformation that is necessary
    for an alliance with the expatriates to bring a breath of fresh air and expertise
    will take the helm. Mark my words!!

  • Even though I voted for him twice, if Obama gives up anything else to “La Chinita” Raul Castro, I am done with him. The good news there is no way we are giving up the GITMO Naval Base under these conditions. There is little chance we will stop the Radio/TV Marti broadcasts. Finally, there is a snowball’s chance in Hell we pay that ‘perv’ a red cent for the embargo. He must know this. Sooooo, this must be exactly as I predicted when the December 17 announcement was made. Raulito really does not want normalized relations with the US. With it, he would lose the straw man that he and his big bro’ have used as the excuse for the failed regime. Fidel released the prisoners during the Mariel Boatlift and shot down an unarmed Brothers to the Rescue Cessna during the Carter and Clinton administrations, respectively. Both actions were intended to derail reconciliation moves on the part of the US President. Raul, ever the competitive little brother, is simply doing his part to torpedo Obama’s efforts. This is really getting interesting. One thing is for sure. Time is on the side of the US. If this should take a few years to resolve, Obama will still get the credit for having gotten the ball rolling. In the meantime, the Castros have been given the two-minute warning. The trifecta of Venezuela circling the drain, the Castros with one foot in the grave, and certainty that the Cuba economy is not getting any better without outside help will drive somebody in Cuba to get more desperate as time goes on. I say wait it out.

  • If the GOUSA paid damages to Cuba for the trillion dollars in damages caused by the 54 year embargo, Cuba could use a fraction of that money to pay off those whose properties were confiscated for/by the revolution….like Fidel and Raul whose family home/estate was broken up at the beginning of revolutionary land reform.
    Then the GOUSA could stop torture and unfair imprisonment in Cuba by closing Guantanamo and giving it back to Cuba.
    The GOUSA could also stop unsafe rafting by calling off the CAA and dropping the cost and time for legal emigration at the USIS.
    The ex-patriot Cuban community and Fox News is having a shit-fit over Raul’s new demands . This is great fun.
    Now Obama et al will have to back down on normalization .
    How dare the Cubans ask the GOUSA to do the right and moral thing ?
    Don’t they know whom they’re dealing with ?

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