US Attempts to Resume the Diplomatic Road in Cuba

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It will soon be clear that diplomatic normalization has little to do with the defense of democracy and respect for human rights.

By Rafael Rojas (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Joe Biden’s government is finally fulfilling his campaign promise to lift the sanctions restricting visas, travel and family remittances that the Trump administration levied on Cuba in 2019. It’s a decision that returns U S policy to the diplomatic path Barack Obama piloted between 2013 and 2016.

It’s worth recalling that Obama’s diplomatic approach wasn’t only attacked by Trump, right-wing Cuban-American groups, and sectors of the Republican Party. The Cuban Communist Party also spoke out against it during their seventh Congress in April, 2016. The most rigid currents on the island, like their extremist allies in Latin America and the Caribbean – especially those towing the Bolivarian line – rejected Obama’s push for normalized relations. In Cuba, they called it “an attack”, and officially defined the initiative as one more way of subverting the socialist system within Washington’s traditional policy of confrontation.

It’s crucial that we recall this now. The initial adverse reaction to lifting the sanctions will be concentrated in those who adhere to the Trump policies. However, before too long, the anti-Obama faction of Cuban officialdom will reemerge and once again raise their voices in alarm against the well-mannered strategy that, in their opinion, seeks the same thing as its opposite: overthrowing the regime.

This last idea is an exaggeration of course, but it reflects very well the antidemocratic core of the Cuban system. As the island’s recently approved Penal Code underlines, “subversion” or “overthrowing” the system is the goal the laws attribute to any exercise of the rights of association and expression, anything that directly questions the institutional and legal order in Cuba. Anything at all that questions the system – not necessarily even an attempt against it through violent or illegal means.

The move to return to diplomacy with Cuba, coming from the United States, is hard to understand without considering the growing Latin American and Caribbean consensus for including the island in the regional forums. These moves aren’t based on any lack of awareness of Cuba’s authoritarian structure. It’s not a route for covering up the repression and human rights violations, as some of the supporters of Trump’s sanctions have argued. That wasn’t the case with Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry, and it won’t be so with Biden and Anthony Blinken.

The Cuban government, and those who reproduce its propaganda within and outside the island, know this and are sharpening their old rhetoric against that opening. This can already be seen in the Cuban foreign ministry’s declaration minimizing the importance of the announcement. Once again, the voices of those who see no other way, except for this prolonged and wearing confrontation, will overpower and confuse.  However, very soon, as soon as the next Summit of the Americas, it will become clear, and not only on the part of the United States Government, that diplomatic normalization isn’t at odds with the defense of democracy and respect for human rights.

Article originally published in the Mexican newspaper “La Razon de Mexico”

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times

9 thoughts on “US Attempts to Resume the Diplomatic Road in Cuba

  • I guess you have to be Cuban or not ideological blind to understand that if Celia Cruz international star was unable to attend her mother’s funeral because the owner of the plantation ( Castro’s family) denied a Cuban citizen the right to enter and go to a funeral not to perform just to attend her mother’s funeral. And the singer’s, film director, painters, thousands of artists who are banned to enter the country where they were born. Why should we have in the land of the free artists with doble moral performing? The members of the Van Van come here to take the money, declare to the press that they are apolitical, and go back to Cuba and shout VIVA Fidel. It’s inmoral period. Just think about that one original member of the song Patria y Vida the only who is a resident in Cuba right now and he is in prison.

  • It is pointless to discuss any form of military action by the US in Cuba. John F. Kennedy in his agreement with Nikita Khrushchev not only committed to removing US Nuclear weapons from Turkey, but also committed to no US military action in Cuba. The Cuban regime is well aware of that commitment and knows that the US can only take non-military action against them, which it has done repeatedly.
    Americans do not like to admit to being powerless, or to admit that Khrushchev outwitted and out maneuvered Kennedy. But the whole Cuban Missile Crises was a deliberate move by Khrushchev who following his initial meeting with Kennedy in Vienna, assessed him as weak – even Kennedy himself admitting that: “He walked all over me.” It was only following that Vienna meeting that Khrushchev instructed the construction of the Berlin wall, which was an addition to the Iron Curtain which stretched across Europe from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
    It is due to Khrushchev that the Castro regime has been able to relax and thumb its nose at the US, secure in the knowledge that the US cannot take military action against them.

  • Olga, let me give you an example of Cuban American extremism. In Pembroke Pines, Fl, the musical group Los Van Van is going to give a concert. They happen to presently live in Cuba. The extremists there phoned the mayor’s office demanding that the concert be canceled, just because they never criticized the Cuban government. Luckily, the mayor allowed the concert to go on. The same thing happened in Miami in 1999, with Los Van Van. Back in 2003, the Latin Grammys were held in Miami. Those performers who were of Cuban descent, including Gloria Estefan, said they wouldn’t play if groups that reside in Cuba performed at the concert. If that’s not irrational extremism, I don’t know what is.


  • Curt, more that two millions Cubans live in exile opposed to the Cuba’s horrible dictatorship “mad,” outraged for the lack of freedom because their property was stolen, their relatives were condemned to death in summary trials, because people in Cuba have a lack movement. Nobody elected this dictatorship, Cubans like you would love to live in democracy and freedom, vote in multiple parties elections and enjoy the liberties that you as a citizen of the free world enjoy. If you think of anyone who wants freedom and democracy in his or her counties as extremist you are seriously despicable.

  • Mr MacD – I hope you are well. We agree that propaganda works.

    Olga – I know many Cubans who live in the USA.
    I most certainly would not label all Cuban Americans as extremists. But some are. There are those who state that they are in favour of ‘democracy’ then voted for trump – a guy who tried to overthrow democracy in the USA. This is a paradox to say the least.
    And Olga – when Putin, with his absurd justifications, invaded Ukraine, you called for the USA to invade Cuba with equally absurd justification. I find that to be extreme.

  • Extremists are the hard right Cubans in Miami who want to keep the embargo and are opposed to normalized relations between the US in Cuba mainly because they’re mad at someone who’s been dead for almost 6 years.

  • I share Nick’s view that both the Diaz-Canel regime and Donald Trump are extremist and that the Cuban regime are masters of the art of propaganda – where else other than Cuba is there a department actually named the Department of Propaganda. But, as I once pointed out in an article in these very pages, propaganda works!

  • Nick, policial extremist are considered according how you see the world and how blind some ppl are politically. For you the Cubans in exile in Miami who are opposed to a repressive system who only wanted freedom and democracy in Cuba are extremist but you are mad that the article calls Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Cuba extremist regime. I guess we know your Stance Have a great weekend.

  • This article refers to certain governments within The Americas as extremist.
    But it doesn’t refer to trump as an extremist.
    ‘Right wing Cuban Americans’, who have an objective of maximum possible suffering for people in Cuba, are not referred to as extremists either.
    The choice of whom to label as extremist tells the story regarding the political stance of the author of this article.
    The Cuban Government are masters of the art of propaganda.
    I think it’s wonderful that Havana Times gives an outlet for opposing propaganda.
    However it is possible that the article, in its haste to propagandise, doesn’t scratch the surface of the reality of the matter.
    Putin, who is trump’s buddy or master depending on which way you look at it, has invaded Ukraine. One of many knock on effects has caused oil prices to surge.
    Given how far trump had his then presidential tongue up Saudi buttholes, it’s difficult to imagine how any subsequent US President could possibly kow-tow any further. So the current White House dweller is looking at alternatives.
    And guess what??
    Perhaps it’s time to kiss and make up with Venezuela?
    Say what you want about Venezuela but dem guys are angels compared to the Saudis and they sit on a big old pot of liquid black gold. So perhaps President Biden is laying the groundwork?
    This article doesn’t refer to any of this. It doesn’t take into account the bigger picture.
    But it is a nice little piece of opposing propaganda.

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