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Vol. 81/No. 29      August 7, 2017

(special feature)

Raúl Castro: ‘Cubans are free, independent
and sovereign’


Below is an excerpt from a July 14 speech by Cuban President Raúl Castro at the closing session of the National Assembly of People’s Power discussing Cuba’s relations with Washington. After this excerpt, Castro concluded his talk by reiterating the Cuban people’s solidarity with the people of Venezuela, demanding Washington “respect Venezuela’s legitimate right to resolve its internal problems peacefully and without any foreign interference.” Translation by the Militant.

Regarding our foreign policy, I would like to say the following:

This past June 16, President of the United States Donald Trump, announced his administration’s policy toward Cuba — nothing novel for sure, since he reclaimed the rhetoric and elements from a past of confrontation, which has proven to be an absolute failure for over 55 years.

It is evident that the U.S. president has not been well informed on the history of Cuba and its relations with the United States, or on the patriotism and dignity of the Cuban people.

History cannot be forgotten, as they have at times suggested we do. [Then U.S. President Barack Obama urged Cubans to “leave the past behind” in a March 22, 2016, address on Cuban television, to forget about the decades of Washington’s economic, political and military attacks against Cuba’s socialist revolution.] For more than 200 years, the ties between Cuba and the United States have been marked, on the one hand, by the attempts of the northern neighbor to dominate our country, and on the other, by the determination of Cubans to be free, independent, and sovereign.

Throughout the entire 19th century … different U.S. administrations tried to take possession of Cuba … they did so in 1898, with a deceitful intervention at the end of the 30-year war Cubans waged for their independence [from Spain]. U.S. troops entered as allies, and then became occupiers.

Negotiating with Spain behind Cuba’s back, they militarily occupied the country for four years … and imposed an addendum to the constitution of the nascent republic, the Platt Amendment, which gave them the right to intervene in our internal affairs and establish, among other things, the Guantánamo naval base, which today still usurps part of our national territory — the return of which we will continue to demand. …

On Jan. 1, 1959, exactly 60 years later, with the triumph of the revolution led by Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro, we became definitively free and independent.

From that moment on, the strategic goal of Washington toward Cuba has been to overthrow the revolution. For more than five decades they resorted to diverse methods: economic war, breaking diplomatic relations, armed invasion, attempts to assassinate our principal leaders, sabotage, a naval blockade, the creation and support of armed bands, state terrorism, internal subversion, the economic, political, and media blockade, and international isolation.

Ten administrations held office until President Barack Obama, in his Dec. 17, 2014, speech, without renouncing their strategic goal, had the good sense to recognize that isolation had not worked, and that it was time for a new focus toward Cuba.

Washington profoundly isolated

No one could deny that the United States, in its attempts to isolate Cuba, in the end found itself profoundly isolated. The policy of hostility and blockade toward our country had become a serious obstacle to relations with Latin America and the Caribbean, and was rejected almost unanimously by the international community. Within U.S. society, a growing majority opposed to this policy had developed, including among a good portion of the Cuban émigré community. …

Over the last two years, working on the basis of respect and equality, diplomatic relations have been re-established and progress made toward resolving pending bilateral matters, as well as cooperation on issues of mutual interest and benefit. Limited modifications were made to the implementation of some aspects of the blockade. The two countries established the basis from which to work toward building a new type of relationship, demonstrating that civilized coexistence is possible despite profound differences.

At the end of President Obama’s term in office, the blockade, the Guantánamo naval base and the regime change policy remained in place.

The announcements made by the current U.S. president June 16 represent a step back in bilateral relations. This is the opinion of many people and organizations in the United States and around the world, who have overwhelmingly expressed their outright rejection of the changes. This sentiment was also expressed by our youth and student organizations, Cuban women, workers, farmers, Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, intellectuals, and religious groups, on behalf of the vast majority of the nation’s citizens.

The U.S. government has decided to tighten the blockade by imposing new obstacles on its businesspeople to trade and invest in Cuba, and additional restrictions on its citizens to travel to the country, justifying these measures with outdated, hostile, Cold War rhetoric regarding the Cuban people’s exercise and enjoyment of human rights and democracy. …

Today, we reiterate the revolutionary government’s condemnation of measures to tighten the blockade, and reaffirm that any attempt to destroy the revolution, whether through coercion and pressure, or the use of more subtle methods, will fail.

We likewise reject use of the issue of human rights against Cuba, which has many reasons to be proud of its achievements, and does not need to receive lessons from the United States or anyone else (Applause). …

Cuba and the United States can cooperate and live together, respecting our differences and promoting everything that benefits both countries and peoples, but don’t expect that, to do so, Cuba will make concessions essential to its sovereignty and independence. Nor will it negotiate its principles or accept conditions of any kind, just as we have never done throughout the history of the revolution.

Independently of what the U.S. government does, or does not decide to do, we will continue advancing along the path sovereignly chosen by our people.

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