If you are able to donate $100 or more for our Annual Fund Drive, your donation will be matched by another generous CounterPuncher! These are tough times. Regardless of the political rhetoric bantered about the airwaves, the recession hasn’t ended for most of us. We know that money is tight for many of you. But we also know that tens of thousands of daily readers of CounterPunch depend on us to slice through the smokescreen and tell it like is. Please, donate if you can!
I wish to express my condolences to the people and government of Portugal for the disaster which has cost dozens of human lives; as well as to the government and people of the United Kingdom following recent events in London.
I convey our most heartfelt condolences to the people and government of Colombia regarding the terrorist attack which has led to several deaths.
On June 16, the President of the United States Donald Trump announced in Miami the policy his government has decided to implement with regard to Cuba.
The Cuban government, meanwhile, issued an official statement. Cuban civil society organizations have also made declarations.
Among others, the President of the United States approved the following measures: the prohibition of economic, commercial and financial relations between U.S. companies and Cuban entities linked to the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior; the prohibition of individual travel by U.S. citizens under the category of “people-to-people” exchanges, and greater monitoring of all travelers; as well as a review of all the programs directed against Cuba’s constitutional order, to supposedly ensure their effectiveness.
Also repealed was the Presidential Directive issued by President Barack Obama in October 2016, which despite being profoundly interventionist, and aimed at changing the constitutional order of the Republic of Cuba, did however recognize our country’s independence, sovereignty, and self-determination; Cuba’s revolutionary government as a legitimate and equal interlocutor, and also proposed a new civilized relationship intended to benefit both peoples.
The Directive, which has now been vacated, also recognized the blockade as a failed policy, which has been unsuccessful, failed to achieve its objectives, and should be eliminated.
All of these measures were announced in a Theater named after Manuel Artime, civilian leader of the mercenary brigade that invaded our country at Playa Girón or the Bay of Pigs. It was a grotesque Cold War-era spectacle, made before a small audience, composed of old henchmen and thieves of the Batista dictatorship, mercenaries from the Playa Girón brigade, terrorists, demagogues and “lackeys.”
President Trump greeted several of these individuals by name, and was surrounded or accompanied by others at the time of the signing. These included a terrorist arrested in 1995 in California, with an arsenal of weapons to be used to commit violent actions, and who was implicated in an assassination attempt on President Fidel Castro Ruz in 1997. Another was part of a 1974 armed infiltration in Cuba; a third was the author of terrorist actions and pirate attacks at sea on Cuban fishing boats, between 1972 and 1975.
Also present was the spouse of a sergeant who committed acts of torture during the Batista dictatorship, and one of those responsible for financing the planting of bombs at tourist locations in Cuba which exploded in 1997, as revealed by infamous terrorist Posada Carriles in an interview with the New York Times. As we know, Posada Carriles was the author of the mid-flight bombing of a Cubana de Aviación civilian aircraft in 1976, the first terrorist act against an aircraft in flight.
Many of these individuals worked for the CIA at some point.
I strongly protest the United States government given such derision, and implore it to confirm or deny if the terrorists I have mentioned were beside President Trump or not. This is an affront to the Cuban people, to the people of the world, and to the victims of international terrorism across the globe.
When, during this show, the President of the United States alluded to the father of the out-of-tune violinist who played the U.S. national anthem, he failed to state that Captain Bonifacio Haza, mentioned on several occasions by the President of the United States, was directly responsible for the murders of Carlos Díaz and Orlando Carvajal toward the end of the Batista dictatorship, and personally participated in the murder of well-known revolutionary fighter Frank País, as well as his comrade Raúl Pujol, and later, Frank País’ younger brother, who was only 19 years of age at the time.
This is an outrage our people will never forget.
The packed audience was completed by several foreign agents who are paid by U.S. government agencies in Cuba. These are the new mercenaries.
It was outrageous to see this annexationist and Plattist audience respond to every phrase against Cuba, chanting “USA, USA.”
President Trump’s policy without a doubt marks a step back in bilateral relations, as has been recognized by countless voices within and outside of the United States, the majority of which out rightly reject the announced changes.
I anticipate that said measures will affect relations between the government of the United States and those of Latin America and the Caribbean, and will severely damage the credibility of its foreign policy.
These frankly unpopular measures ignore overwhelming support for the lifting of the blockade and the normalization of relations with Cuba by members of the U.S. Congress, many of whom are Republicans; the country’s business sector; various civil society organizations; the Cuban émigré community; the press; social networks; and public opinion in general.
President Trump – once again ill-advised – who lost the vote of Cubans in the counties with the highest concentration of Cuban residents during the Presidential elections in Florida; who lost the Cuban vote in Florida, is making decisions which only benefit the petty interests of an aging, extremist minority of Cuban origin and a handful of politicians.
Any measured analysis leads one to anticipate that, as in the past, the announced measures will not meet the proclaimed objectives, but rather the opposite: they will restrict the freedoms of U.S. citizens, cost taxpayers more money, reduce the opportunities of companies and business people against their competition, lose income and jobs.
It is necessary to wait until the government of the United States reveals the regulations that will implement these measures before expressing an opinion on their scope and depth.
These measures also ignore the overwhelming majority view of the Cuban people, who wish to have a better relationship with the people of the U.S. They will cause human harm and deprivation; they will affect Cuban families. They will bring economic damage not only to state-owned enterprises in Cuba, but also to cooperatives, and will especially harm self-employed or private workers. They will also harm and increase discrimination against Cuban émigrés settled in the United States.
It seems childish to predict that, with this policy, they will be able to separate the people from the government, or the citizens from our glorious Revolutionary Armed Forces and Ministry of the Interior, who are the uniformed people. On the contrary, these measures reinforce our patriotism, our dignity, our determination to defend national independence by all means, in the spirit of José Martí, Antonio Maceo and Fidel Castro Ruz.
Cuba vigorously rejects the new measures that strengthen the blockade, which we will denounce in the next United Nations General Assembly, because it is unjust, inhumane, genocidal, extraterritorial, and in violation of International Law and the sovereignty of all states.
I firmly reject the political manipulation and double standards in addressing the issue of human rights by President Trump. The United States government has no moral authority, it cannot give lectures on human rights or on democracy. Cuba has much to show and say on this matter.
The new measures are not at all democratic. According to recent U.S. surveys, 73% of U.S. citizens, 63% of Cuban residents, and 62% of Republicans support the lifting of the blockade – curious that: 62% of Republicans. The normalization of bilateral ties is favored by 75%, three quarters, of U.S. citizens; 69% of Cuban residents, and 62% of Republicans.
Among Cubans in the United States, the younger they are, the more support there is for the lifting of the blockade and normalization.
However, the new measures reinforce the ban on U.S. citizens traveling as tourists to Cuba, and restrict their civil liberties; they limit the freedom of U.S. citizens to travel.
As regards human rights, in the United States there are numerous and systematic murders, brutality, and abuses by police, particularly against Afro-Americans. The limits on the right to healthcare, pay inequality for women, the lack of educational access, the almost absent unionization, the repression against immigrants and refugees, the marginalization of minorities and the increasing discrimination against Islamic culture and religion are well known.
The war crimes and the killing of civilians in U.S. military attacks and interventions are frequent. The imprisonment, without trial, and the massive and systematic use of torture in the Guantánamo Naval Base are brutal.
I reiterate Cuba’s willingness to continue the respectful dialogue and cooperation in areas of mutual interest and to negotiate pending bilateral issues with the United States, on the basis of equality and absolute respect for our independence and sovereignty.
As demonstrated by the advances achieved in the last two years, Cuba and the United States can cooperate and coexist in a civilized manner, respecting the profound differences between our governments and promoting all that benefits both countries and peoples.
We will continue our efforts together with people of good will in the United States, who are the vast majority. But I advise you: Cuba will not make concessions essential to its sovereignty and independence, will not negotiate its principles or accept conditions, as it has never done, never, throughout the history of the Revolution. As the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba establishes, we will never negotiate under pressure or threats.
We will act invoking the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by heads of state and government of the region in Havana in January 2014, which recognizes the inalienable right of heads of state to decide their political, economic, social and cultural system; rejects foreign intervention and interference in internal affairs, and opposes and condemns the threat and use of force.
It will not be a Presidential Directive of the United States that will thwart the sovereign course of Cuba, as they have been unable to do in more than 50 yeas of aggression, state terrorism, blockade, media war, and subversion. We have been through it all, our people has already been through it all, and have run the risk. What could they threaten us with today that they haven’t already, and failed?
In Cuba, by the way, no one was on tenterhooks waiting for this imperialist announcement. Our people worked as normal, foreign policy functioned, we demonstrated respect for Europe on this visit. In fact, the Cuban people, closely linked to their Communist Party, recently debated and amended the draft Conceptualization of the Cuban Economic and Social Model of Socialist Development and the National Development Plan through 2030, and the upcoming People’s Power general elections were called.
The changes that may be necessary in Cuba will be independently decided by the Cuban people: only by the Cuban people, as they have always done. We will not ask anyone else for their opinion or permission.
This is a translation of Rodríguez’s remarks in Vienna on June 19, 2017.
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla is Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Relations.