Perspectives from Havana: Do Cuba-US relations have a future? (Week 5 of 5)
Like the rest of the world, Havana and Cuba have just completed the
first full year of Covid 19. It has done so with the full force of the
U.S. embargo on its neck, including additional measures enacted by the
Trump administration and so far not modified or removed by the Biden
administration. What has Havana been like the past year? What is it
like now? What have been the major challenges and achievements?
May 11: Do Cuba-US relations have a future? — Esteban Morales
It is true that President Biden has a lot of problems to deal with. (FACEBOOK).
And Cuba is not among the top priorities. I don't even think it could be a priority for them.
Nevertheless, Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits continue to suffer as if Trump were still in office. Which is an insufferable paradox. More so for someone who said in his presidential campaign that he would follow Obama's policies. A fond memory for most Cubans.
This is not a political issue, Mr. President: It’s a human issue. Mothers, children, fathers, suffer on both sides because they cannot receive or send remittances, visit their loved ones, send or receive medicine, food, and more. So far all these people continue to be victims as if Trump still controls everything.
The political issues, being more complex, could wait a little longer. But don't you think that humanitarian issues should be rushed a bit?
I don't think it would be so complicated to get back on track with visas, flights, mutual visits, people-to-people exchanges, remittances, allowing tourism, providing certain economic facilities. I know that it is a little more complex to get rid of Trump's infamous measure of declaring us on the list of countries that protect terrorism. An infamy, because it is Cuba that has suffered from terrorism coming from over there, from the U.S. However, you should take into consideration that both inside and outside the United States, this declaration putting us on the terrorism list was an extremely unpopular measure. Along with all the other 240 aggressive measures that Trump had already taken against Cuba. It’s clear that this last measure was taken to make things more difficult for you. The action of a coward who saw that he had already lost.
Actually, I do not see that it is a problem that at the same time that you are attending to your priorities, you launching measures in relation to Cuba. Everything has been said and more than negotiated, so there would be no need to invent anything new to begin with. Everything is contained in his promise to return to Obama's policy. He has gained considerable domestic popularity. Besides having two people already appointed and accepted who have handled Cuba's affairs in the past very efficiently.
What are you afraid of, Mr. President? Unless you come out with the speech that says “whatever it is I said, I said I didn’t say.” Don't make the Cubans on both sides suffer any more, just hurry up, even a little, the fulfillment of your campaign promises.
Although we also know the story that one thing is said during the campaign and another when you are already in office. Although I do not sincerely believe that this is your case. You seem to me to be a more serious politician.
May I remind you that you also have the task of burying the disastrous Trump years. And for that, it is important that you manage to show that you can do everything better. None of the tasks you have clash with changing your Cuba policy. I am sure that many, both inside and outside the United States, will support you. More than 80 congressmen follow you, many interested social groups: academics, intellectuals, religious, African Americans, simple citizens and others. It’s an area where Trump also can gain space for his intention to win back the Congress in 2022 and win the presidency in 2024, a madness he believes he is capable of. Despite having been, the most disastrous President in U.S. history.
Cuba as a nation already enjoys great popularity in the United States. And in the world as well. Above all, within those circles that see the blockade policy against Cuba as a crime against humanity.
Demonstrate substance in your policy towards Cuba and I am sure that this will ensure you gain credibility for the rest of the tasks you have to fulfill.
The American people are a noble, hard-working, country-loving people who, when reality allows them to move away from lies, are for the most part in a position to ally themselves with the noblest of causes. Look at the opposition to Vietnam, the fight for civil rights, the fight against racism, the desire to reach out to other peoples, etc. Trump tried to poison the people of the United States, while you have the task and the ability to bring them back to the path of truth, unity, nobility, love for the nation, to get out of the deception. And that can only be achieved by being consistent with the solution of the problems you have proposed to solve: the pandemic, the economic crisis, unity, migration, racism and discrimination, in relations with your allies, also the failed policy of blockade against Cuba.
Cuba is a close neighbor, which does not hate the American people. Because despite all that U.S. policies have made it suffer, Cuba has never harbored any hatred towards the people of the United States.
It has been 100 days of your presidential term and you have done nothing to improve Cuba policy. You even maintain the 242 blockade measures implemented by Trump that you have already made your own. Moreover, your first statement directed at Cuba has been to accuse us once again of violating democracy and human rights. You reinforce this by keeping Cuba on the list of countries that promote terrorism, when you know that it has been the United States that has applied State terrorist measures against Cuba; It is the U.S. that has invaded us, that has supported other aggressive paramilitary measures against Cuba and continuously attack us.
Now, under your mandate, U.S. agencies continue to give money for subversion in Cuba and, as if that were not enough, enemies of Cuba people payout money to subversives for activities here against our people, in Cuba.
So, Mr. President, it seems we shouldn’t wait for you to fulfill your campaign promises, since you are already following practically to the letter the same aggressive policy of Trump against Cuba. To put it another way: You are doing to Cuba the same as Trump.
Moreover, we find it very dangerous, very threatening that you have already spent the first 100 days in office not saying anything about policy towards Cuba but you are taking actions against us. Accusing us of violating human rights, leaving in place the 242 measures that Trump adopted against Cuba and keeping us on the list of countries that promote terrorism.
What are you hiding from us, President?
What are you trying to deceive and surprise us with, Mr. President?
Excuse our mistrust, but, it seems to us that you are more willing to follow the same failed policy against Cuba going on for more than 60 years than to fulfill your campaign promises.
Just in case, we tell you, do not get your hopes up, and don’t be fooled by the difficulties Cuba is going through right now. Our people and our government are very united and are working hard to overcome them. And we are overcoming them. And at the same time we are receiving solidarity of the highest order from not just the rest of the world but from the American people and the world. Although we have always put everything on the line, trusting first of all in our internal strengths; although we are grateful to our friends; we know that we are the first ones who must help ourselves for the help that comes from outside to be fruitful.
Take heed, Mr. President, that the same thing that has happened to others over the past 60 years does not happen to you.
Presentation by Cole Harrison (Massachusetts Peace Action)
“Is there a future for Cuba-US relations?” Estéban Morales is in a unique position to address this question: As well as being an economist, political scientist and member of Cuba’s Academy of Sciences, he is founder of the University of Havana’s Center for the Study of the United States and for 20 years served as its director. He is well known at home and abroad for his broad knowledge, provocative thinking, and deep analysis on both domestic and international questions. (6 pm. Eastern).
In the final presentation in the series, “Perspectives from Havana in the Year of the Embargo and Covid-19,” Estéban Morales presented a subtle dialectical understanding of United States/Cuban Revolution and what needs to be done to advance the possibility of Cuba transitioning to socialism. Several issues were highlighted by Estéban:
First, the embargo has created Cuban victims on the island and their relatives in the United States. President Trump added 242 orders designed to cripple the Cuban economy and starve the people so that the Revolution would crumble from within. Not only have these draconian measures exacerbated the pain and suffering of Cubans on the island but they have increased the suffering of their relatives living in the United States who send remittances to their loved ones and desire to visit them as well.
Second, the new Biden Administration in its first 100 days has failed to reverse these administrative directives and has made no moves to return to Obama era policies of diplomatic and economic interaction between the United States and Cuba. Estéban suggested President Biden may hope that a continuation of Trump era policies would stimulate the disintegration of the Revolution from within. It is hoped that not only would such a disintegration eliminate a Revolution with worldwide support, it would revitalize Cuban American support for the Democratic Party. But Estéban pointed that United States citizens today prefer an end to the embargo and traditional US hostility toward Cuba. The Florida of today, even including Cuban Americans, is not what it used to be twenty years ago. Now majorities of Cuban Americans would support an end to the embargo. Only small numbers of politicians, such as Senator Menendez of New Jersey, remain as political anachronisms. They are a kind of “Cuban American mafia” who are losing support.
But Professor Morales pointed out that while the US embargo was a serious impediment to the success of the Revolution, the main defense of it requires economic change in Cuba itself. He argued that dissidents preyed on the economic suffering of significant sectors of the population. Cuba, he said, is in a stage of economic “transition:” It is not capitalist and it is not socialist. Cubans have been talking about this transition for years now, including re-endorsing it at the recently completed Eighth Cuban Communist Party Congress. Now is the time to put words into policy: that is, stimulating economic development. This includes increasing food production, expanding exports, and reducing imports. In this transitional stage Cuba must maintain and reform the state sector, expand private enterprises and markets, encourage more foreign investment, and continue the growth of cooperatives.
In short Professor Morales condemned the Biden Administration’s continuation of the Trump program to overthrow the Cuban Revolution. While Cubans and solidarity organizations around the world must continue to organize against US imperial policies, the Cubans themselves have the primary task of economic reconstruction; building a transitional economy based upon state and private institutions, markets and cooperatives, and foreign investment. If successful. economic productivity, enhancing the historical achievements in healthcare and education, will build a more robust economy that will lift the Cuban people out of relative poverty. Economic development then would reduce the soil in which counter-revolution, often externally initiated, occurs.