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.
As the date of Obama’s visit to Cuba approaches (March 20-22) I have been thinking about what he will say in his speech when he steps on Cuban soil. I have heard Obama’s declaration on 17 December 2014; I have followed the various statements by him and others in interviews, and I think I know what his message will be.
Recently, White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said, "We see this speech as a unique moment in the history between our two countries". In that speech, the president would "lay out his vision for how the United States and Cuba can work together, and how the Cuban people can continue to pursue a better life."
My interpretation is that after some pleasantries as the protocol requires, and some reference to the new “improved” developments in Cuba-US relations, Obama will eloquently reshuffle some of the same old demands with implications of regime change: “empowering” the people of Cuba, respect human rights, more freedom of expression, “democratic” multi-party system and possibly a reference to the release of “political prisoners”. Maybe not all issues in the same speech. He will deliver his “message” according to expected impact. He will also have a different message when he will meet with "dissidents" and "entrepreneurs".
I imagine that a large number of people from the US are now extremely concerned about the safety of their President, Barack Obama, during the days that he will be in Cuba with his family.
It is ironic that the President has decided to be accompanied in his official trip to Cuba by the First Lady and their two teenage daughters, considering that it is a country that for over half a century has been described by the great US corporate media as a kind of ungovernable hell without democracy. A country against which the United States was forced –for these reasons– to impose a punishing embargo that has failed by not having achieved its purpose of deposing the communist regime, and therefore will have to be lifted.