Is it Time to Change?
By Orlando Marquez
February /2009 No. 182
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
After working for more than a year by request from the Washington Center for National Policies (CNP) a two-party team lead by former USA ambassador to Mexico James J. Jones and formed by Thomas Wenski, assistant bishop of Miami, University professor Max Castro, and Cuban American businessman Carlos Saladriga presented a report called “Cuba-United States Relations: time for a new approach” on January 23 2003.
In this 20-page report it was stated that “the United States will attain its goals with Cuba with a higher probability by using negotiation than by isolation”. The report didn’t recommend former President George W. Bush to lift the embargo. But, it recommended initiating a new policy and allowing American citizens to visit the Island. It also advised facilitating the sale of medicines and food products; to eliminate the limit set on money transfers to Cuban families; to review current legislations on Cuba, and facilitate scientific, professional and academic exchange. It recommended developing bilateral cooperation on issues of mutual interest like drug and people traffic, fighting crime and environmental protection. These recommendations were ignored at first, and a year later the government did just the opposite.
At the end of 2007 I met a former government official in Washington. Naturally, we talked about the United States and Cuba. He agreed with me that the isolation policy inherited, maintained and strengthened by his government had no followers. “So?” I asked. He talked about liberty, human rights… I agreed. I added that isolation had only created more problems and asked him if he thought China and Saudi Arabia, two of his country’s main associates, were good examples of liberty and human rights. He had no further arguments, and then he confessed that his superiors could not forgive, among other things, that former President Fidel Castro would have thought of launching a nuclear attack against the United States during the missile crisis, in 1962!… I was the one who ran out of arguments, because there is nothing to say when confronted with irrationality and passion. I must add that this government official did not agree with this policy, he only said that decision was out of his hands.
This issue has been treated very differently on our side! Certainly, there has been a lot of passion. Besides our “achievements in health and education” there has been no other issue more important in our national media than the evils of the United States. They have talked about presidential ineptitudes, economic crisis, social violence, racism (this may change somewhat after Obama’s election), police abuse, homeless, the millions of citizens without medical insurance, drug addicts… It would seem that every evil in the world is there, and only there, the worst, the most despicable. And, the attempt to distinguish between the American government and the “noble people of the United States” – that elect them- sounds absurd and untenable.
“A letter that put a mark on history” was the title chosen by Granma newspaper last year to accompany the fifty year old –four years before the missile crisis- letter they published. The letter was written by the Commander in Chief of the Rebel Army, Fidel Castro Ruz, to Celia Sanchez, after army planes had bombed the ‘bohio’ of a peasant with bombs made in the United States. In this letter the former Cuban President wrote; “When I saw the bombs they threw at Mario’s house I promised myself that the Americans will pay dearly for what they are doing now. After this war is over, I will start another war, longer and bigger: the one I am going to wage against them. I realize that this is my true destiny.” There is no proof that the former president kept on thinking the same way after the United States stopped selling armament to Fulgencio Batista’s government months later. This statement was not repeated later. Although it was reprinted, like this time on June 5. 2008, with a title that suggests, or intends to confirm, that our history is marked by eternal conflict with the United States.
Notwithstanding the fact that the United States government support of Fulgencio Batista’s government is criticizable, as is the fastidious and reprehensible interference in Cuban matters during the first half of the 20th century, Should our present and future history depend on the ill-fated attack on the humble home of a peasant that took place more than fifty years ago and on the feelings expressed in a letter written while those feelings were intense? Must we always suffer the consequences of what might have been, but didn’t happen, during the missile crises in 1962? I don’t think so.
During his campaign, Barack Obama, against all previously established molds, declared he was willing to talk to the leaders of all the countries considered as United States enemies, including Cuba. On our side, the will to establish a dialogue couldn’t be more evident, as President Raul Castro has declared more than once.
For many in his own country, Obama is still an enigma. And, for Cuba? Well, here, it is even more so. Many Cubans, including me, are waiting to see if the change in policy making in the United States and, therefore, in its external policy, also means a change in U. S, relations with Cuba.
However, Cuba is only pressing for Cubans. It is not very probable that Cuban issues will have a high priority for the new American government. Nevertheless, Cuba (with Cubans holding different points of view) shouldn’t be ignored. Cuba is too near, too active. It has a very large international and regional influence, as well as inside the United States. Cuba is too defying, and perhaps, it even has too much oil waiting to be extracted.
In spite of the willingness expressed by both presidents, some people have raised the alarm -both here and there – against a new status in the relations among the two countries. The ghostly remoras of the Cold War rise once more, ignoring the demands of millions of people. On that side some talk about the dangers of “recognizing” a dictatorship that never changes. On this side, those that always warned against an imminent military invasion, an argument that is already worn out, warn against a “cultural invasion” that can destroy us.
SOURCE: Original Spanish not available. Sorry!