The official June 16 statement was barely uttered when the majority nationwide opposition to the Trump Cuba policy was once again reignited. Indeed, it was already extremely active and vocal before the Little Havana, Miami venue and date were announced on June 9. By stage-managing the event in Little Havana, Trump was preaching to the choir, one that does not even include the rest of Florida, where the majority of Cuban-Americans oppose the blockade, or at least support the Obama policy of making the blockade somewhat more flexible. Trump’s trademark manner of hand-picking events to spread the word across the country will not work. His Cold War rhetoric will not detract the forces that want to increase trade and travel to Cuba.
It is still frequent to come across people who having heard about the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, believe that now it’s all back to normal and that the blockade of Cuba is over. Although the initial announcements of the reopening of relations by Presidents Raúl Castro and Barack Obama were made on December 17, 2014, the blockade is still in full force.
Fidel’s thinking on tactics and goals with regards to Cuba–U.S. relations will be a necessary guide for years to come.
During U.S. President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba on March 20–23, 2016, I was commentating on the event with Cuban colleagues for the Caracas-based teleSUR television network. On the Cuban side, the event was overshadowed by Cuban diplomacy skillfully led, in a complex situation, by President Raul Castro and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From the Obama administration’s perspective, the trip also consisted of diplomacy. However, it was tainted by a heavy dose of speeches and talks that promoted U.S. Cuba policy, which is very self-serving. The resistance in Cuba by Cubans and some foreigners, including myself, to this U.S. cultural, political and ideological assault seemed to have taken a backseat. However, on March 27, only a few days after Obama’s departure from Cuba, Fidel Castro shared his reflections, ironically titled “Brother Obama.” It hit Cuba and the world like a bomb. We will soon analyze it.
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.
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.