The coming visit to Cuba, on March 21 and 22, of the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, has the expressed goal of contributing to the process of normalization of relations between the two countries.
But the road to such normalization cannot be undertaken mirroring the model of a situation that existed at some period in the past, because the links between the two sides have never been truly “normal”. And, in what way could the US oligarchy obtain benefits from the negotiations that are taking place for that purpose in Washington and Havana?
Demands linked to a number of issues have already fallen into complete disrepute. These issues are: human rights (regarding which Cuba shows many accomplishments and the US serious deficiencies); democracy (a term the US foreign policy systematically confuses with capitalism); ties with US enemies (these change constantly because of US foreign policy’s inclination to war); religious intolerance (Cuba is highly regarded for its complete openness to all religions both internally and globally); political fanaticism (Cuban diplomacy enjoys great prestige and has earned outstanding successes in its contributions to conflict resolution in various parts of the world).
Now it appears –at least considering what is reflected by US-controlled or greatly influenced corporate media– that most efforts are focused on demands for the liberalization of the island’s economy to increase its vulnerability to the appetites of Wall Street. The current slogan, repeated in different ways by these means is “the Cuban government must liberalize its economy in response to every step taken by the United States to partially soften its blockade of the island.”
Derived from this slogan is the warning that “the thaw between Cuba and the United States moves very slowly because of the decision of Havana not to lose control of its economy.”
On other occasions they have used officials or experts linked to the US government to express the claim that the continuation of the easing of sanctions, and some timid steps of the White House to allow exports of some of its products to Cuba –on credit– “will depend on the actions carried out by the Cuban government to liberalize its economy.”
There have also been more categorical demands that “if Cuba does not take steps towards greater openness, both of the economic and political systems, it will be impossible that issues such as the embargo or the Helms-Burton Act are repealed by Congress.”
Or, as bait, offering that if Cuba moves its chips in this regard it will be rewarded, because “then Obama could work wonders before a Congress and a Senate that from January on will have a Republican majority”.
All this leads to the threat that if Cuba wants to get rid of the blockade, it must make the changes demanded by the United States, the think tanks of capitalist thinking and the mass media advocating an economic opening directed to Cuba’s accepting a system of capitalist economy that Cubans rejected in 2011 when –at 163,000 very democratic assemblies– they added, removed or modified a basic text to endorse the roadmap of economic changes within socialism that are being implemented in the most recent period.
For years, the dominant message in the mainstream media indicated that the US blockade was a mere excuse of the Cuban government to hide its economic failure since this had little impact on the economy of the island. Today few dare sustain such a thing, because in just one year of timid measures by Obama, the Cuban economy grew by 4% and became an exception in the region whose GDP –according to the Comisión Económica para América Latina (CEPAL) [Economic Commission for Latin America]– has contracted by 0.4%.
The wisest thing would be for Washington to altogether accept the total failure of its economic war against Cuba and its attempt to reverse the victory of the popular Cuban socialist revolution, in the same way it had to admit defeat in its uneven confrontation against Vietnam four decades ago.
Only that, in this case, they have the possibility of ending its aggression in a civilized way, leaving the door open for a future of mutual respect and eventual reconciliation without the humiliation of having to gather on the roof, as they did in Saigon with low brows of defeat, to board the getaway helicopters.
*Manuel E. Yepe, is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana. He was Cuba’s ambassador to Romania, general director of the Prensa Latina agency; vice president of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television; founder and national director of the Technological Information System (TIPS) of the United Nations Program for Development in Cuba, and secretary of the Cuban Movement for the Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples.
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
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