Raul Castro assesses status of Cuba-US normalization process

Statement by the President of the Councils of State and Ministers Army General Raúl Castro Ruz

” . . . we have achieved some results, particularly in the political, diplomatic and cooperation spheres . . . we have not made any progress in the solution of those issues which are essential for Cuba to be able to have normal relations with the United States . . . “

Declaration by Army General Raúl Castro on the occasion of the first anniversary of the announcements made on December 17, 2014, regarding the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States

Source:  internet@granma.cu

December 18, 2015

One year has gone by since the simultaneous announcements made on December 17, 2014, by the presidents of Cuba and the United States to re-establish diplomatic relations between both countries and work to improve our relations.

One year ago, on a day like yesterday, as part of the agreements reached to find a solution to issues of interest for both countries, we were able to announce, to the great joy of all of our people, the return to our homeland of Gerardo, Ramón and Antonio, with which we made true the promise made by Fidel who had asserted that our Five Heroes would return.

Cuban Five return home.jpgOn that same date, in accordance with our reiterated disposition to hold a respectful dialogue with the Government of the United States, on the basis of sovereign equality, to discuss a wide variety of issues in a reciprocal way, without any detriment to our people’s national independence and self-determination, we agreed to take mutual steps to improve the bilateral atmosphere and move on towards the normalization of relations between the two countries.

We have achieved some results

It could be said that, since then, we have achieved some results, particularly in the political, diplomatic and cooperation spheres:

  • Diplomatic relations were re-established and the embassies in both countries were re-opened. These actions were preceded by the rectification of the unjust designation of Cuba as a State sponsor of terrorism.
  • High level meetings and visits have taken place.
  • The already existing cooperation in areas of mutual interest, such as aviation safety and security as well as the combat against drug-trafficking, illegal migration, alien smuggling and migration fraud has been expanded. The regular and respectful meetings between the military commands of Cuba and the United States in the perimeter of the U.S. Naval Base in Guantánamo have continued.
  • New possibilities for bilateral cooperation have opened up in areas of mutual benefit, such as environmental protection, law enforcement, maritime and port security and health.
  • New dialogues have been initiated on bilateral and multilateral topics of interest, such as climate change, mutual compensations, traffic in persons and human rights, this latter being the one on which we have profound differences and about which we are having an exchange on the basis of respect and reciprocity.
  • We have signed agreements on environmental protection and the re-establishment of direct postal services.

All of this has been achieved through a professional and respectful dialogue based on equality and reciprocity.

No progress on issues essential for normalization

Quite on the contrary, this year we have not made any progress in the solution of those issues which are essential for Cuba to be able to have normal relations with the United States.

Although President Obama has repeatedly stated his opposition to the economic, commercial and financial blockade and has urged Congress to lift it, this policy remains in force. The persecution of Cuba’s legitimate financial transactions as well as the extraterritorial impact of the blockade, which causes damages and hardships to our people and is the main obstacle to the development of the Cuban economy, have been tightened.

The steps taken so far by President Obama, although positive, have proved to be limited in scope, which has prevented their implementation. By using his executive prerogatives, the President could expand the scope of the steps that have already been taken and take new steps that would substantially modify the implementation of the blockade.

US illegal occupation of Guantanamo Bay

Despite Cuba’s repeated claim for the return of the territory illegally occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base, the Government of the United States has stated that is has no intention to change the status of that enclave.

The U.S. Government is still implementing programs that are harmful to Cuba’s sovereignty

The U.S. Government is still implementing programs that are harmful to Cuba’s sovereignty, such as the projects aimed at bringing about changes in our political, economic and social order and the illegal radio and television broadcasts, for which they continue to allocate millions of dollars in funds.

US Cuban migration policy encourages an illegal, unsafe, disorderly and irregular migration

A preferential migration policy continues to be applied to Cuban citizens, which is evidenced by the enforcement of the wet foot/dry foot policy, the Medical Professional Parole Program and the Cuban Adjustment Act, which encourage an illegal, unsafe, disorderly and irregular migration, foment human smuggling and other related crimes and create problems to other countries.

The Government of Cuba will continue to reiterate that, in order to normalize relations, it is imperative for the U.S. Government to derogate all these policies that date from the past, which affect the Cuban people and nation and are not in tune with the present bilateral context and the will expressed by both countries to re-establish diplomatic relations and develop respectful and cooperative relations between both peoples and governments.

The right of every State should be respected

No one should expect that, in order to normalize relations with the United States, Cuba will renounce the principles and ideals for which several generations of Cubans have struggled throughout more than half a century. The right of every State to choose the economic, political and social system it wishes, without any interference whatsoever, should be respected.

The Government of Cuba is fully willing to continue advancing in the construction of a kind of relation with the United States that is different from the one that has existed throughout its prior history, that is based on mutual respect for sovereignty and independence, that is beneficial to both countries and peoples and that is nurtured by the historical, cultural and family links that have existed between Cubans and Americans.

Cuba consolidating the achievements attained by the Socialist Revolution

Cuba, in fully exercising its sovereignty and with the majority support of its people, will continue to be engaged in the process of transformations to update its economic and social model, in the interest of moving forward in the development of the country, improving the wellbeing of the people and consolidating the achievements attained by the Socialist Revolution.

Thank you.

Source:  Statement by the President of the Councils of State and Ministers Army General Raúl Castro Ruz


One thought on “Raul Castro assesses status of Cuba-US normalization process

  1. The very balanced and dignified statement of President Raul Castro about the normalization of relations between the US-Cuba is simultaneously an update to the Cuban people and the world about the status of these evolving relations.

    President Castro’s evaluation about the progress and obstacles in the normalizing relations between both nations is a model of how sovereign and independent nations should act to resolve deep seated differences irrespective of their size and power in the global system.

    The clarity, simplicity, transparency and honesty with which the Cuban leader assesses and explains the successes in the normalization process between the two countries is not only admirable but it also decries the frequently repeated lies about the secrecy of the Cuban state. Frankly, it would be equally admirable for the American people to get a similar assessment about the status of the normalization process from the US President. Hopefully, if the latter is done whether by President Obama or Secretary of State Perry, it would be plausible to assume that not only would the American people be informed like the Cubans about the progress in the relations between the two countries but more importantly they would be equally informed about the US’ and Cuba’s concerns about the process.

    In this regard, it would probably become more vital for the US government to explain to its people why in the context of its often repeated policy commitment to ” free trade” between nations and in the context of globalization, the US government continues to enforce a failed economic blockade against the Cuban people in the 21st century! Why is there no “free trade” with Cuba after 54 years of blockade?

    Indeed, should a similarly open and honest assessment of the unfolding “normalization process” as given by President Castro be given by President Obama perhaps the latter and his state department would be forced to explain why the persistence of the blockade is even a stumbling block in the normalization of relations primarily for the Cubans and less so for the US Congress.

    Furthermore, if such a discussion about the blockade should take place in the US ( a very big if), then perhaps President Obama, his administration and the Congress would have to explain to the American people why in the context of a still struggling US economy American farmers and manufacturers are unable to sell corn, meat, Soya beans, tractors, buses, fertilizers and a range of other American products to Cuba which would create even more jobs and incomes for millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans.

    The American government would also have to explain the reason(s) as to why American banks are unable to lend money to Cuban businesses and the Cuban state to facilitate financial transactions between two sovereign nations who are supposedly normalizing their relations after years of tensions and hostility. The US government would in all likelihood also have to explain to its people why it is that life saving medicines including cancer drugs were and still are unable to be sold in Cuba to save the lives of children and adults alike. They would also have to explain the enormous costs of the blockade on every single sector of the Cuban economy and society in terms of the excessively higher prices the Cubans have had to pay and continue to pay for medicines, foods, machines, expertise, raw materials, technologies and other inputs.

    The reason for these significantly higher costs to Cuba is that the Cubans have to purchase the cited inputs from Japan, Europe, Canada and other countries because of the US blockade. Consequently, they inevitably pay higher prices due to increased transportation and other costs for inputs that could be had for much lower prices from the US which is geographically much closer in the absence of the US imposed blockade.

    The US officials would also probably have to explain why the Cuban government seeks compensation for the hundreds of billions or perhaps a few trillion dollars in significantly higher costs for foods, technologies, machines ,medicines and other things during the last 54 years just to keep the economy going because of the criminal blockade.

    However, equally important and in the interest of honesty and transparency, the US government and officials would also have to explain to the American people the goods, services, technologies, innovations that they could have traded with the Cubans to their benefits.

    For example, they would have to explain that not only does Cuba have the mundane things like sugar, cigars, Habana Club Rum, nickel and tourism to sell to Americans. Beyond these traditional exports, they would have to explain to Americans that in spite of the blockade, the Cuban revolution has developed a host of other lesser known but extraordinary products particularly in the areas of health care and other scientific realms such as a drug to prevent amputation of limbs for diabetic patients. Additionally, the Cubans have developed drugs that have had very favorable trial results for patients with advanced stages of lung and prostrate cancers.

    Needless to say, Americans could and should benefit from these potentially life saving medical innovations developed by Cuban medical researchers for the benefits not solely of Cubans but also Americans and more generally mankind.

    As such, it should be obvious from the foregoing arguments that the persistence of the economic, commercial and financial blockade as President Castro points out is not only a major area of obstacle for the normalization of relations between both nations but it is equally a mutual obstacle for the growth and development of both peoples.

    Finally, it is clear that the focus of this article has been about the economic blockade as a major impediment to the normalization of relations between Cuba and the US.

    However, it is equally obvious that the other thus far unresolved issues that must be resolved for there to be anything resembling “normalized relations” between both nations are the US military occupation of the Guantanamo Bay Naval base, the clearly politically biased and provocative immigration policy of the US government towards Cubans including Cuban doctors and other health professionals particularly those fulfilling missions in sovereign countries and the ongoing political interference via Radio Marti and other means in the internal affairs of Cuba with the clear purpose to effect regime and eventually system change.

    Clearly, the Obama administration despite its signal of a “gentler”and more “friendly” rhetoric towards Cuba and despite the progress in diplomatic relations between both nations will have to address not only the blockade but also the other obstacles that President Castro highlighted in his statement if there is to be normalization of relations between these two sovereign nations.

    Needless to say, the process of normalization of relations between Cuba-US will take more time time to sought out all of the foregoing legitimate issues of concern to the sovereign nation of Cuba in its political negotiations with the US empire. It is well known that the latter does not readily make concessions to correct the injustices it creates to and against small developing nations like Cuba. However, the dignity and courage of the fighting people of Cuba is limitless and will be required for the long haul against the US empire.

    “It is impossible until it is done” Nelson Mandela

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