The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 79/No. 21      June 8, 2015

(front page)
Cuba defends its socialist
revolution in talks with US

In the five months since Cuban President Raúl Castro and U.S. President Barack Obama announced their countries would seek to resume diplomatic relations, the Cuban people have demonstrated their commitment to their socialist revolution, marching a million strong on May Day. Cuban leaders have made clear the country’s sovereignty and socialism are not on the negotiating table. The ball is in Washington’s court to unwind decades of attacks and onerous restrictions.

“We don’t have sanctions in Cuba against U.S. companies or citizens, nor do we hold occupied territory in the United States which we could exchange for the territory occupied by the Guantánamo Naval Base,” Josefina Vidal, who represents Cuba in negotiations with the U.S., said in February. “We don’t have programs financed by Cuba intent on influencing the situation within the United States or promoting changes in the internal order of the United States.”

The White House notified Congress last month that it plans to rescind Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism May 29. No serious effort to challenge the decision has arisen in Congress.

Castro told the press in Havana May 12, “This sort of unjust accusation is about to be lifted and we’ll be able to name ambassadors.”

Negotiations continue on the establishment of embassies, to the frustration of some in the U.S. ruling class. “U.S. and Cuban Negotiators Can’t Quite Seal a Deal,” read a May 22 New York Times headline following the latest round of negotiations in Washington.

“What we have done in four months — two countries that had no diplomatic relations for more than 50 years — can be considered progress,” Vidal told Cubadebate in an interview the same day.

Vidal said the negotiators spent two rounds in January and February getting agreement from Washington to remove Cuba from the U.S. terrorist list and making it possible for Cuban diplomats in the U.S. to get a bank account. Previously no U.S. bank was willing to handle their funds for fear of retaliation because of Washington’s embargo. “Today we can say that these two issues are resolved or very close to a solution,” Vidal said.

She told a May 22 press conference that the latest talks had focused on “every aspect of the functioning of embassies and the behavior of diplomats.” Washington continues to seek ways for its personnel to interfere in Cuba’s internal politics. Cuba intends to take all the time needed to get the right agreement.

‘U.S. statements vs. real life’

“To listen to President Obama,” following the Summit of the Americas in April, “the purpose of U.S. policy toward Cuba was no longer regime change,” Vidal told Cubadebate. “We hope as we move forward in the process toward normalization of relations we see a better correspondence between such statements and real life.”

“Real life tells us that they are still asking multimillions in funding to sustain these programs that Cuba considers to be illegal,” she said.

As Obama said in his Dec. 17 speech, the decades-long U.S. embargo aimed at overturning Cuba’s socialist revolution failed. The U.S. rulers — represented by Democratic and Republican administrations alike for some 55 years — had assumed that the punishing embargo would cause Cuba to implode, like the Soviet Union and Eastern European regimes did 1989-90. But the living Cuban Revolution turned out to be a completely different story.

While Washington’s objective remains to overthrow the revolution and restore capitalist relations in Cuba, they realize they have to try new tactics, or risk not only continuing failure but growing isolation in Latin America.

As part of this battle, Cuba’s defense of Venezuela against Washington’s threats has pushed them back. Last year U.S.-backed opponents of the Nicolás Maduro government in Caracas organized violent actions and threatened new coup attempts. On March 9 Obama issued an executive order increasing sanctions and declaring Venezuela a “threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

“The United States must understand once and for all that it is impossible to seduce or buy Cuba, or intimidate Venezuela,” Castro told representatives at the March 17 emergency meeting of the ALBA group in Caracas in response.

Washington has scaled back its threats since.
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