Monday, February 22, 2016

Obama and Raul Castro - Encounters and Disagreements

Obama and Raul Castro: Encounters and Disagreements / 14ymedio, Carlos
Alberto Montaner
Posted on February 21, 2016

14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 20 February 2016 — Obama will
go to Havana in March. The trip is part of his change of policy
regarding the island. He wants, as John Paul II asked, for "Cuba to open
itself to the world and the world to open itself to Cuba."

That includes, as suggested by El Nuevo Herald, the entry into the
country of independent journalists who are not intimidated by the
political police. Will Obama bring it up among his requests?

A few hours before the news of the visit, the State Department announced
that commercial flights will be resumed – up to a hundred a day – and
authorized the installation of a tractor assembly plant.

The White House wants to hinder any involution of the measures taken, if
after the November elections a candidate wins who is averse to having
good trade relations with the Cuban regime.

It is highly significant that a US government spokesman has declared
that Obama does not intend to visit Fidel Castro. It is a gesture of the
desire to emphasize his lack of connection with the ideology of the
dictatorship. At the end of the day, he was born after the Bay of Pigs
and most of his career has been spent after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
He is the first truly post-Soviet president of the United States.

Apart from the anthropological curiosity of a visit to the old tyrant,
who is no longer head of state, but a gentleman encased in a tracksuit
who says some very odd things, being photographed with him and listening
to his infinite nonsense (now aggravated by age and infirmity), is a
part of the well-known political ritual that, subliminally, conveys a
message of solidarity or, at least indifference, to the second oldest
military dynasty on the planet. The first is North Korea.

Obama does not want to make this mistake. He will meet instead with
members of "civil society." This expression includes the
opposition. Perhaps he will talk with the journalist Yoani Sánchez, with
the opponents García Pérez "Antúnez," Cuesta Morua, and Antonio Rodiles,
with the very brave Ladies in White who, every Sunday, march peacefully
while the political police insult and attack them. The purpose is
obvious: to give support to democratic pluralism.

Raul Castro, meanwhile, feels that he is participating in a
contradictory and dangerous game. Obama has unilaterally declared the
end of the Cold War in the Caribbean, although Havana continues to man
the battle stations.

The activities of the Forum of Sao Paulo, the anti-American strategy of
the countries that conform to 21st Century Socialism under the
leadership of Cuba, the transfer of arms to North Korea in violation of
UN agreements, and the unconditional support of Middle East terrorist
organizations such as Hezbollah, are some signs of that old subversive
anti-Yankee mentality that the Castros have never wanted to renounce.

General James Clapper, Director of US National Intelligence, said
officially on 9 February in an appearance before the Senate Armed
Services Committee: from the perspective of espionage, Cuba was one of
the four most dangerous countries for the United States. The other three
were Russia, China and Iran.

Hours later, the island returned an American missile carrying secret
technologies that had been sent to Havana "by mistake" from a European
airport. During the 18 months of the "mistake" the rocket had been in
the hands of Cuban intelligence. In this period, experts assume, Raul
Castro's government had had time to copy it, sell it or share it with
its anti-American allies.

What is Raul Castro going to do with the olive branch Obama has given
him? Is he going to cancel the hallmarks of the Cuban Revolution and
admit that he has been mistaken almost his entire existence?

I do not think so. For 60 years, since he climbed the Sierra Maestra and
kidnapped some American marines, his leitmotif has been fighting
Washington and trying to destroy the unjust capitalist system of
production, convinced that the ills of Cuba derived from the private
sector and the Yankees.

Then life proved otherwise: Cuba's ills are the result of not enough
capitalism, not too many Yankees, and of not enough democracy;
deficiencies especially critical now with the death agonies of the
generous Venezuelan cow, milked without pause or mercy in the midst of
Real Socialism and of an orgy of corruption to which the masters of
Havana are not alien.

A noted international development expert who prefers anonymity told me,
"If Raul intends to overcome the economic and social crisis that
afflicts Cuba, his timid reforms will accomplish nothing if he doesn't
open the political game and establish a regimen of freedoms, even though
this would imply the eventual loss of state control."

And then he concluded, "As long as there is a single party and as long
as the large business enterprises are in the hands of a bureaucratic
clique that makes the decisions, the country will continue to sink."

His compatriots all know this well. And so they flee.

Source: Obama and Raul Castro: Encounters and Disagreements / 14ymedio,
Carlos Alberto Montaner | Translating Cuba -

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