Cuba has just been removed from the list
of state-sponsors of terrorism. How do
you think this will affect Cuba’s relations
with the United States?
First of all, there is no reason to have Cuba
on such a list. We should have never been
there. However, the US decided to do this
back in 1992. On May 29, the removal was
We consider this a very positive step in
eliminating the different obstacles to
forging stable bilateral relations with the
And of course, it is a victory for Cuba and
it is a victory for international solidarity,
because the world knows that Cuba is
not a terrorist state. The world knows that
Cuba has been a victim of state terrorism
exercised by the US against Cuba, with
more than 5000 Cuban victims as a result.
Even today, there are real terrorists who
still freely walk on the US’s streets.
The Cuban Five were five Cuban patriots
jailed in the US in 1998 for infiltrating
and collecting information on terrorist
groups in Florida in order to stop attacks
on Cuba. Now that the Cuban Five are
free and back in their home country,
what sort of role are they planning on
Well, first of all, the Cuban Five are happy
to be back with their families and the
Cuban people. They are very active in the
everyday activities of Cuban life.
One of them, Fernando Gonzalez, is the
deputy president of ICAP. He is in charge
of relations with the solidarity movements
from North America and Latin America.
It means that Fernando is now meeting
with groups and individuals from a
number of countries in the region —
from the US, Canada, Puerto Rico among
others. And the other members are quite
active as well.
They themselves have said that they wish
to do something new in order to really
deserve their label as “Five Heroes”. They
say they understand that what they have
done is a very important contribution to
the Cuban Revolution, but they do not
wish to live the remainder of their lives
simply being “The Cuban Five”.
I believe they are expressing a true
character of revolutionaries and I think
they are well prepared for exercising many
responsibilities and tasks.
I remember the day when Fidel Castro
received them and they spent over five
hours together. Fidel asked them, at the
end of the meeting, to use the high moral
authority that they have to do great things
for the world.
Now that the five have returned, we feel
that the international solidarity movement
itself has been strengthened five times.
We wish to use this strength to continue
fighting against the economic blockade,
for the liberation of the political prisoners
in the imperialist countries, and of course,
for the defence of Cuban sovereignty and
the right of Cuba to freely choose its own
economic and political system.
With regards to the current negotiations
between Cuba and the US, what do you
think are some of the concrete things
that have been achieved so far?
I would like to highlight the most
important factor of these negotiations —
the current US administration is seated
at the table with the representatives of
The announcements of December 17,
and conversations and meetings between
Obama and Raul Castro at the Summit
of the Americas are quite significant. Until
now, no other US administration has had
the capacity to recognise Cuba as an equal
Many previous US leaders have stated that
if a Castro was still leader of Cuba, they
would not recognise the political system
or government. Now, however, Cuba and
the US are communicating in a civilised
manner. We have had the chance to
demonstrate to them the reality of Cuba
and why they should respect our country.
The most important development has
been building the conditions for new
relations between Cuba and the US. The
major point regarding this is the opening
We believe this needs to take place despite
the continuation of the US blockade
[in place since 1960], despite the US’s
continuous occupation of Guantanamo
Bay, despite constant US accusations of
Cuba breaching human rights.
How do you see the role of ICAP with
these new developments?
ICAP still has the same responsibilities
when it was founded — almost 55 years
ago. Since the very start of the Cuban
Revolution, we have been receiving people
from all over the world.
In fact, last year we received delegations
and brigades from 82 countries. Now
there is also a rise in the number of US
citizens coming to visit Cuba — not only
through ICAP, but also through other
Cuba is updating its economic model, but
every institution like ICAP should also
be undergoing a similar process. In that
aspect, we are looking for more efficiency
for everything that we do — particularly in
terms of new communication technology.
Since December 17 and the release of
the five, we have been reorienting our
priorities to focus on ending the economic
the blockade and continuing the battle of
ideas to inform our population about all
the aspects of the changes.
One of the biggest existing dangers to
Cuba and the Cuban Revolution is the
US funding of NGOs and counter-
revolutionary groups to undermine and
spread false information about the Cuban
How significant do you consider this
danger to be?
The US government has adopted a more
positive rhetoric towards Cuba, but they
have also changed the old methods of
undermining the Cuban government for
This type of non-conventional warfare
is also being partially assisted by their
negotiation tactics. Obama has also given
priority to lessening the blockade around
the telecommunications sector — an
area where the US will be able to receive
economic benefits and be able to influence
We know that is a powerful weapon in
their hands. But we are also prepared to
deal with that. Our people are highly
literate and greatly adaptable to new
This kind of warfare is not like the Bay
of Pigs or the other invasions from the
past. This is a different type of ideological
attack and ideological warfare.
In the end, we believe that any type of
regime change programs should stop in
order to truly enter a new epoch of Cuba-
US relations and for the US to recognise it
has entered into a new era of relationship
with Latin America as a whole.
One of the best known campaigns
around the world is “Yo si puede” (“Yes
We Can”). This campaign provides
literacy skills to the poor in nations
around the world, including Indigenous
communities in Australia. Do you think
it will be expanded even further with the
end of the blockade?
Unfortunately, illiteracy is still a
phenomenon that affects the world’s
poor. Wherever illiteracy exists, Cuba
will always offer its method to solve that
What is also evident is the absence of
political will by some governments to
accept that Cuba is not looking for any
ideological or political influence in their
society. We believe in is that literacy is a
basic human right — one that needs to be
It helps to empower the whole population
and change the fundamental relations
between a person and society as a whole.
Cuba is ready to share its experience with
as many countries as possible. So far, 27
countries have taken part in this program.
Could you tell us about the medical
missions that Cuba has conducted more
recently in Nepal and West Africa?
Cuba answered the call of those countries,
and the World Health Organisation,
pledging to commit our highly qualified
doctors and nurses to help those nations.
It was a great challenge, particularly with
regards to Ebola. We asked our doctors to
recognise the risk of death in the process
of facing the disease. They were ready to
In fact, when one of our doctors
contracted the disease, thousands of
others volunteered to take his place and
travel to West Africa. Upon his return for
treatment in Cuba, that same doctor also
asked the Ministry of Health to allow him
to return to his post once he was cured.
That is most inspiring.
We learned many lessons from that
— most importantly, the value of
internationalism and the commitment to
save lives, sometimes even at the risk of
All the Cuban people are educated in
these values. We will always be ready to
help our sister nations from across the
world to fight against diseases like Ebola.
Reprinted from: www.greenleft.org
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