‘‘Viva la Cuba’’

What next for Cuban-US relations? The Cuban embassy on 20 July officially opened in Washington, DC exciting the many who support restoring diplomatic relations with the Caribbean nation for the first time in 54 years.

Cuban foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez, who visited the US capital for the first time on 20 July for the flag-raising ceremony, said the US must now lift its comprehensive trade embargo against the Caribbean nation and return the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay to the Cuban people.

"The historic events we are living today will only make sense with the removal of the economic, commercial and financial blockade, which causes so much deprivation and damage to our people, the return of occupied territory in Guantanamo, and respect for the sovereignty of Cuba," Rodriguez said.

The US broke off relations with Cuba in 1961 following two years of crumbling diplomacy in the wake of the Cuban Revolution, which saw the overthrowing of the US-backed authoritarian government of President Fulgencio Batista.

Ketfa Freeman, an organizer with the Campaign for a Just Policy Towards Cuba for the Institute for Policy Studies, wrote in an op-ed published at Common Dreams that Obama's announcement in December recycled much of the same language that has been used by previous US officials to justify ignoring Cuba's right to self-governance.

One need only listen closely to the announcement made by US President Barack Ohama—which has couched in language about "promoting change" on the island—to realize that while the strategy of undermining Cuba's sovereign right to national self-determination has changed, the goal remains the same: regime change.

While the Obama administration insists that it's just changing a US policy that was "not working," it remains an essentially disrespectful position against Cuba.

Better relations between Washington and Havana are a good thing, but they have to come from a place of respect. Both the Cuban and the American people have to see past the hypocritical rhetoric of the US government to realistically determine their best interests in this new and unprecedented rapprochement.

"Opening [of] the embassies in Havana and Washington is a great and historic step, but everything that President Obama has done can be undone by the next president. Congress must now step up and pass the needed legislation to finally put an end to the antiquated policies towards Cuba that have failed for 54 years."

"Viva la Cuba". It is an important day for the Cuban revolution, it is an important day for the Cuban people, an important day for the American people, and for the world as well... But it's just the beginning, because the embargo is still in place.


Vol. 48, No. 21, Nov 29 - Dec 5, 2015