President Obama started his historic December 17, 2014 speech by acknowledging that the policy Washington led for more than a half century “towards Cuba failed to serve the interests of [the United States].” To be more precise, the US “approach” (that is to say, the chosen method and resources put to work) proved ineffective in achieving the goal the American government had set and continues to pursue. This goal (why should one assume that it has changed?) is the destruction of the Cuban revolution.
Conflictual Relations or Reconcilable Viewpoints?
The anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist Cuban Revolution, which entered its 57th year this January, defied the laws of history by instituting an original socialism 90 miles from the United States. The Cuban Revolution has successfully resisted alone, proving to the world that an alternative to capitalism is possible, and spreading throughout Latin America, from Venezuela to Bolivia, where other revolutions also claiming to adhere to socialism are now running their course in the twenty-first century. President Barack Obama’s admission of U.S. powerlessness in the face of the revolution is, in itself, a victory for Cuba. The freeing of the three last Cubans who were still imprisoned in the United States and the reunion of the five anti-terrorist heroes in Cuba after more than fifteen years of captivity only amplified this joyous victory.
It is equally likely that the objective of the Cuban government has not changed either, that it is still identical to what it was before Raul Castro’s December 17 declaration: to guarantee the gains of the revolution for the Cuban people (security, health, education, broad conception of public services, etc.), to find solutions to basic problems of daily life, to create satisfying jobs for the youth, etc. Hence, it is also very likely that the American and Cuban viewpoints remain irreconcilable. This will be the case as long as the Cuban people continue to show their support for the revolutionary path and their attachment to the socialist project, and as long as the American people – and the people of Northern countries in general – accept to have their own leaders act as representatives of the interests of finance, and so as to serve them better, throw their armies in a permanent war against the South (and the East).
We know that the relations between the United States and Cuba have been characterized by tension since long before the revolution of 1959.The histories (and geographies) of these two countries are closely tied. The Cuban revolution had to achieve its breakthroughs under the constraint of these relations. Rather than being understood as a residue of the East-West confrontation, the conflict between Cuba and the United States ought to be analyzed under the prism of these bilateral relations. Only Cuba’s unique relationship with the United States explains the different treatment reserved for the island compared to other countries that still claim to be socialist (China, Vietnam, etc.), and the unabated aggressiveness of Washington, which has even taken the form of state terrorism: assassination attempts against Cuban leaders (more than 630 against Fidel Castro), terrorist acts led by the CIA and Miami counter-revolutionary exiles (against a commercial airliner of the Cubana de Aviacion in 1976, schools in 1981, hotels in 1997…), as well as multiple biological attacks against the population, herds, and crops. This is all in addition to a mercenary invasion (the Bay of Pigs in 1961) and a threat of nuclear conflagration (the Missile Crisis in 1962).
On the Conditions for Resuming Diplomatic Relations…
Once again, one will have to learn to coexist, and for that, some conditions will have to be met. First of all, Obama should actually remove Cuba from the list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism,” rather than simply make another declaration of intent. On the day these lines are being written, Cuba, having endured incessant terrorism from the United States since 1959, is still on the list of “State Sponsors of Terrorism,” together with Iran, Sudan, and Syria, according to US State Department criteria. Second, in order to pursue negotiations, the US administration will have to agree to suspend the limitations to the Section of Cuban interests in Washington, particularly by letting it operate regular banking transactions (as it did a few months ago), which are necessary for handling the administrative proceedings of the Cuban community living in the United States. Indeed, each year, more than 400,000 Cuban residents of the United States visit Cuba. Finally, Washington will have to provide serious guarantees that its employees and diplomats at the Section of Interests in Havana will strictly abide by international conventions. Paul Craig Roberts, a well-known paleoconservative, has already warned that while the dollar will endeavor to take control of the economy, “the American embassy will be a den of CIA agents in charge of subverting the Cuban government, becoming the base from which the United States will establish NGOs, whose credulous members will be called to the streets at the timely moment (as we saw in Kiev), and will make possible for Washington to groom a new set of political leaders.” In a letter dated January 26, 2015, Fidel Castro also warned: “I have no trust in the policy of the United States…”
… And the Normalization of these Relations
If these conditions are met, they will enable the resumption of diplomatic relations, but not a normalization of these relations. For that, much more decisive conditions with tremendous implications will be necessary. First of all, the blockade will have to come to an end, as demanded by an outstanding majority of UN members. The end of the blockade will need to be accompanied by reparations paid to Cuba, so as to compensate for the huge cost of the blockade. Exchanges between the two countries will then be able to operate in all sectors, not only in communications, which is of course a sector on which the Obama administration particularly insists, with the obvious intention of accelerating the flow of anticommunist propaganda broadcast from Miami towards the island by pirate radio frequencies and TV channels. Second, Washington will have to tolerate the Cuban people’s dedication to socialism. Raul Castro repeated it in Havana barely three days after the December 17 declaration, in front of the National Assembly of People’s Power: “The economic system that will continue to rule will still be based on the socialist ownership of the means of production by the people as a whole.” Finally, one last essential requisite will have to be met: the restitution of the Cuban territory occupied by the United States for more than a century, in Guantanamo. Barack Obama recently had to state the obvious: the naval base of Guantanamo is a lawless zone whose “only” purpose is to serve as a torture facility. As we will recall, he once promised to shut down this prison, but he never mentioned giving this territory back to Cuba. The standing ovation that followed Raul Castro’s speech detailing these demands last January, at the third conference of the CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) that took place in San José de Costa Rica, constitutes enough illustration of the large solidarity that the Cuban Revolution has successfully built around itself. Today, on all these questions – ending the blockade, ending interventions in internal affairs of other countries and respecting national sovereignty, shutting down the military base at Guantanamo and restituting its territory – the United States, and not Cuba, is clearly isolated in the international community.
The process aimed at taking us from the restoration to the normalization of the relations between Cuba and the United States, has started, but it is only in its early phase. Reaching a situation of dialogue on an equal footing will take time, as illustrated by the current negotiations. Those who, once again, imagine that the Cuban revolution has been defeated will still have to wait, think about the fact that the world is changing very deeply, and perhaps also think about the idea that the current financialized and militarized American hegemony, is not itself all-mighty, nor is it eternal…
See : Les Avancées révolutionnaires en Amérique latine (Parangon, 2010) ; et Cuba révolutionnaire – 2 tomes (L’Harmattan, 2006 et 2003).