Canadian author Arnold August wrote a thorough comparative investigation of the practice of democracy in the US, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador in his book, “Cuba And Its Neighbours – Democracy in Motion”. The main message he gives is that people’s participation in politics and society is an essential element of democracy but it is not part of the US-centric understanding of democracy. August writes, “Democracy as practiced in the US is largely non-participatory, static and fixed in time. Cuba, by contrast, is a laboratory where the process of democratization is continually in motion, an ongoing experiment to create new ways for people to participate. ”
When U.S. President Barak Obama promised to start a “new chapter” with Latin America at the April 2009 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, most of us were hoping for a more friendly and respectful U.S. foreign policy that would be a welcome departure from the aggressive and warmongering foreign policy of George W. Bush. The Norwegian Nobel Committee must have been just as hopeful when it awarded Obama with the Peace Prize in October of that same year.
This article analyses the significance of the March 2016 visit to Cuba by President Barack Obama, assesses changes in the bilateral relationship since December 17, 2014 (when Presidents Castro and Obama announced the resumption of diplomatic relations after 53 years of hostility), and considers the challenges ahead.
It is somewhat of a wonder to pinpoint exactly from where and how the idea of a book comes. I believe that ultimately it comes from a place of interest or passion that matures over time, and eventually compels us to want to tell a story or pass on a message we believe is worth sharing. I have always been fascinated by the concept of solidarity so beautifully made universal by the phrase “La solidaridad es la ternura de los pueblos” (Solidarity is the expression of care of the peoples). Beyond a mere feeling, solidarity for me is the real binding fabric between peoples as well as an essential tool for democracy. It is common among activists and particularly within the labour movement to speak of solidarity or to act in solidarity with someone or a cause. When I say, I am in solidarity with you, I mean to say, I am at your side. Not that I blindly accept everything you claim or represent, but that I place myself close to you so that I can better hear your plea, and support you with my respect, my dialogue, my voice and my actions.
Originally Published as Viewpoint: MEDICC Review, January–April 2016, Vol 18, No 1–2
In the late 1970s, hopes were raised that “Health for All by the year 2000” was attainable by addressing primary health care. This goal of human well-being seemed achievable and was concisely laid out in the Declaration of Alma-Ata, a three-page document that reflected the spirit of social justice, equality and the importance of the role of the state. Most importantly, it recognized health as a human right.
It has already been made clear in a previous article in the People’s Voice that the major scope of President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba, after Cuba-U.S. relations were re-established, has been to build his image for the history books.  However, that is only part of his scope. No president can get away without promoting the “values” of the capitalist system. And so did Obama in his speech of more than 4,000 words addressing the “people of Cuba” at the Gran Teatro de La Habana on March 22.  We know that Fidel Castro did not swallow Obama’s “sweetened words”, as he refers to in his open letter addressed to “Brother Obama”.  Neither should we.
Before leaving Montreal for Havana in March 2016 to cover the Obama trip, I wrote an article on Cuba–US relations. Referring to the cultural war to include, in the broad sense of the term, ideological and political aggression, I asked:
“The question is, will Obama’s visit to Cuba provide Cubans the opportunity to make headway against the cultural war, or will it allow the US to make inroads? Or are both these scenarios on the horizon?”
My intention at that time was to deal with this question immediately upon my return from Cuba. However, one feature became clear during my stay in Havana and immediately following it. Both in and outside of Cuba, the repercussions of the visit not only continued but were being ramped up. In fact, at the time of writing, a month after the trip, the ideological and political controversies are carrying on.
This situation is at present further being fostered by Raúl Castro’s April 16, 2016 Central Report to the 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (CPC). He devoted important sections of the Report to the issue of Cuba–US relations.
Salim Lamrani, in an interview with Khamenei.ir, talks about the US-Cuba relations and how these relations are the continuation of the past painful US policies against Cuba.
Barack Obama can lift the economic sanctions without the agreement of the U.S. Congress but he refuses to do so. Normalization of relations happens if Washington lifts economic sanctions, gives Guantanamo back to the Cubans, put an end to the financing of an internal opposition on the island and abrogate the Cuban adjustment act. These reasons are clearly indicative that the normalization of relations are just a continuation of the past policy of ‘regime change’ in Cuba.
– How do you think the US uses sanctions and negotiations to infiltrate its enemies? Can you give examples of how US has used these tools to infiltrate Cuba?
The main goal of U.S. policy toward the island has been to overthrow the Cuban Revolution. From 1959 to 1991 this was a hidden goal. Since the implementation of the Torricelli Act in 1992, it has become public. Washington wants a “regime change” in Cuba. One of the tools used to achieve this end is economic sanctions. These are sanctions that affect all categories of the Cuban population and constitute the main obstacle to the island’s development.
Based on a talk given to members of the Young Communist League on 12 March 2016.
As U.S. President Barack Obama visits Cuba, it is interesting to take a quick look at what Cuba-U.S. relation has been historically and shortly after 17 December 2014. It may be a good starting point in trying to foresee what future relations may hold.
Short history of Cuba: The need for a revolution
Current Cuba-U.S. relations: What has been achieved so far
“Blocks” still remain preventing normal Cuba-U.S. relations
Reality of Cuba-U.S. relations in the context of the U.S. foreign policy.