June 16, 2017
Today the President of the United States, Donald Trump, in a speech full of hostile rhetoric given at a theater in Miami, that reminded us of the times of open confrontation with our country, announced the policy of his government towards Cuba. His talk halts the progress achieved in the past two years and reverts back to the time before December 17, 2014 when presidents Raúl Castro Ruz and Barack Obama made public the decision to re establish diplomatic relations and start a process towards the normalization of bilateral ties.
In what is a backward step in the relationship between the two countries, Trump made a speech and signed at the same event, a policy directive entitled “National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba” setting forth the elimination of the individual “people to people” educational exchanges, an increase in the oversight of US travelers to Cuba and the prohibition of economic, commercial and financial transactions by US companies with Cuban companies linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the intelligence and security agencies, all with the intended purpose of depriving us of income. The US head of state justified this policy with alleged concerns for the human rights situation in Cuba and the necessity to strictly enforce the laws of the blockade, and places conditions in its lifting and any improvement in the bilateral relations to our country’s making changes inherent in its constitutional laws.
Trump also repealed the Presidential Policy Directive “United States-Cuba Normalization”, issued by President Obama on October 14th, 2016, which even though it did not hide the meddling nature of the US policy and the objective to advance the US interests in the economic, political and social achievements of our country, it did recognize Cuba’s independence, sovereignty and self-determination, and recognizes the Cuban government as a legitimate and equal interlocutor carrying the benefits that a relationship of civilized coexistence would bring to both countries and our peoples despite the big differences existing between the two governments. It also admitted that the blockade was an outdated policy and that it should be lifted.
Once again the US government has resorted to coercive methods from the past, by adopting measures to strengthen the blockade, in effect since February 1962, which not only brings damage and privations to the Cuban people, and is an undeniable hindrance to the development of our economy, but also affects the sovereignty and the interest of other countries, thus provoking international condemnation.
The measures announced impose additional hindrances to the very limited opportunities that the US business sector had to engage in trade and invest in Cuba.
Likewise, they further restrict the right of US citizens to visit our country, which is already limited by the obligation to use discriminatory licenses. This comes at a time when the US Congress, as a reflection of what large sectors of that society feels, demands not only the lifting of the travel ban, but also the restrictions on trade with Cuba. The announcement made by President Trump contradicts the majority sentiment of US public opinion, including the Cuban immigrants in that country, which supports the lifting of the blockade and is in favor of normal relations between the United States and Cuba.
Instead, the US President, ill-advised once again, is making decisions that favor the political interests of an extremist minority of Cuban origin residing in the State of Florida, who are driven by petty motivation. They do not desist from their objective of punishing Cuba and its people for exercising their legitimate and sovereign right to be free and for having taken back the reins of their own destiny.
Later, we will make a deeper analysis of the scope and implications of this announcement.
The Government of Cuba denounces the new measures meant to strengthen the blockade, which are destined to fail as they have been repeatedly in the past. They will not achieve their purpose of debilitating the Revolution or forcing the Cuban people, whose resistance to all kinds of aggressions and origin has been proven throughout six decades, into submission.
The Cuban government condemns the manipulation with political purposes and the double standards in the treatment of the human rights issue. The Cuban people enjoy the fundamental rights and liberties and shows achievements it takes pride in which are a dream for many countries in the world, including the United States itself, such as the right to health, education, social security, equal salary for equal work, the human rights of children, the right to food, peace and development. With its modest resources, Cuba has contributed also to the improvement of human rights in many places of the world, despite the limitations imposed by its condition of being a blockaded country.
The United States is not in any position to lecture us. We have deep concerns about the respect and guaranties of human rights in that country, where there are a large numbers of murders, police brutality, particularly against African Americans whose right to live is violated as a result of death by firearms. Child labor is exploited and there are serious occurrences of racial discrimination. Currently there is the threat of imposing further restrictions to health services that would leave more than 23 million more people without medical insurance. In the U.S. there exists a serious salary gap between men and women. Immigrants and refugees are marginalized, particularly those from Islamic countries. There is the intention of the Trump Administration to erect walls that degrade neighbors and international commitments to preserve the environment and the fight for climate change is being abandoned.
Also grounds for concern are the violations of human rights by the United States in other countries, such as the arbitrary detention and torture of dozens of prisoners in the territory illegally occupied by the US Naval Base in Guantánamo Cuba. In other countries torture has taken place along with extrajudicial executions and civilian deaths from bombings from planes and drones. The U.S. has unleashed wars against different countries that they justified by lies like in the case of Iraq where they falsely claimed there were weapons of mass destruction in that country. This has led to disastrous consequences for peace, security and stability in the Middle East.
We recall that Cuba is a State that is a party to 44 international instruments on human rights, while the United States is a State that is only party to 18; therefore we have a lot to show, say and defend.
By confirming the decision to reestablish diplomatic relations, Cuba and the United States reaffirmed their intention to develop a respectful and cooperative relationship between both peoples and governments, based in the principles and purposes enshrined in the UN Charter. In its Statement issued on July 1, 2015, the Cuban Revolutionary Government reaffirmed that “these relations should be based on the absolute respect to our independence and sovereignty; the inalienable right of every State to choose the political, economic, social and cultural system, without any kind of interference; and the sovereignty equality and reciprocity which are principles of the International Law and cannot be waved.” This was endorsed by the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed by the Heads of State and by the Governments of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), in its 2nd Summit held in Havana. Cuba has not renounced those principles and it never will.
The Government of Cuba reaffirms its resolve to continue the respectful dialogue and cooperation in matters of common interest, as well as the negotiation of pending bilateral issues with the Government of the United States. In the past two years, it has been proven that the two countries, as expressed on several occasions by the President of the Council of State and Ministers, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, that Cuba and the United States can cooperate and coexist in a civilized way by respecting the differences and promoting all which benefits both nations and peoples. It should not however be expected that for this Cuba should have to make concessions inherent to its sovereignty and independence or accept conditions of any kind.
Any strategy intended to change the political, economic and social system in Cuba, whether it is one that tries to achieve this through pressure or the use of more subtle methods, will be condemned to fail.
The changes that are necessary in Cuba, as those made since 1959 and the ones we are making now as part of the process to update our economic and social model, will continue to be decided only by the Cuban people.
As we have done since the triumph on January 1, 1959, we will take any risk while continuing to be firm and confident in the construction of a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable nation.