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.
Cuba reaffirms its will to advance in relations with the United States, on the basis of respect for the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and the principles of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace.
The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, will make an official visit to Cuban this coming March 20-22.
This will be the second time a U.S. President comes to our archipelago. Previously having done so was Calvin Coolidge, who landed in Havana in January of 1928. He arrived aboard a warship to attend the 6th Pan American Conference, which was held at that time under the sponsorship of a local figure recalled as infamous, Gerardo Machado.
This will be the first time a President of the United States comes to a Cuba in full possession of her sovereignty and with a Revolution in power, headed by its historic leadership.
This event is part of the process initiated December 17, 2014, when the President of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, and President Barack Obama simultaneously announced the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations, broken by the United States almost 54 years ago. It is part of the complex process of normalization of bilateral ties, which has barely begun, and has advanced on the only grounds that are possible and just: respect, equality, reciprocity, and the recognition of our government’s legitimacy.
The government of Cuba – and we concur – demands that the territory in the Guantanamo Bay that is now occupied illegally by the US Naval Base be returned to Cuba. However, an initial step is the closure of the prison that the US government holds there. The prison currently holds 93 detainees, 34 of whom are cleared for release. Speaking at the White House last February 23, Obama explained why he wants to close down the detention facility.
“For over a decade, CCR [Center for Constitutional Rights] has been at the forefront of the legal battle against indefinite detention and torture at Guantánamo, representing many current and former detainees.” Here is their response to president Obama.
GITMO plan "too little, too late"
When President Obama sent his long-awaited plan to close Guantánamo to Congress last Tuesday, CCR was ready with our analysis – and criticism – of the president’s past actions as well as his current proposal. In a press statement, a white paper, and dozens of media interviews that CCR attorneys did that day, we provided an important counter-voice to both mainstream cheerleading about Obama’s commitment to closing the prison and right-wing grandstanding vowing to expand the GITMO population.