We are here, and will remain, free, sovereign and independent
Speech delivered by Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz during the closing session of the National Assembly of People's Power 8th Legislature, December 21, 2017
Compañeras and compañeros:
It is my responsibility to make the closing remarks for this last Period of Ordinary Sessions of the National Assembly of People's Power's 8th Legislature. On this occasion, I will address several topics of national and international relevance.
Between September 8 and 10, the country was struck by Hurricane Irma, described as the most powerful and violent extreme weather event in the history of the Atlantic Ocean, which impacted, to one degree or another, 12 provinces, with strong winds, heavy rain, and severe coastal flooding.
La Habana (PL), Gracias al trabajo realizado durante décadas, Cuba disfruta de un amplio respaldo internacional en cuanto a la promoción de los derechos humanos, lo cual rebate los repetidos intentos de ciertos actores para desacreditar a la isla en esta materia.
Una de las mayores evidencias del respeto hacia la mayor de las Antillas fue su reelección en octubre de 2016 para ocupar uno de los ocho puestos correspondientes a la región latinoamericana y caribeña en el Consejo de Derechos Humanos (CDH) de la ONU.
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".