What Obama Says and doesn’t say.
President Obama is a good communicator. It means he knows how to place the words, gestures, looks. It seems as if improvising, but he has a "teleprompter" right in front of him which the public does not see. His logic speech leaves gaps that elude, minimize or manipulate facts. The Cuban people do not harbor feelings of hatred towards the North American people, and listen to the President who led to the resume of diplomatic relations with friendly approach. This does not imply they overlook the gaps. Perhaps within one of those phrases spoke without overemphasizing rests the first confusion: it´s true that the U.S. and Cuban government were adversaries and not their peoples, the latter and its people shared for decades of confrontation similar ideals and goals. I could not understand the sustainability of this revolution and the ineffectiveness of a blockade causing huge hardships in the everyday life of its citizens, if we don’t start from that premise. I could not understand the legitimacy of every revolutionary achievement, if the history of relations between the two countries is unknown.
President Obama introduces the story with a symbolic reference to the waters of the Florida Straits, and those who come and go from one side to the other. He speaks of the sufferings of the "exiled" Cuban term that overlooks the fact that they can spend their holidays without any risk, in Cuba, or even, as it has become fashionable, his final years - under the care of the Cuban state health system-, which according to the official speech of his government s, seeks "freedom and opportunities", but it does not clarify whether it refers to the torturers, murderers and thieves from Batista's army who fled to the United States in the early months of the Revolution, the children who were torn apart from their parents as a result of misleading propaganda and a criminal program called Peter Pan, to the doctors or athletes inclined to desert their solidarity missions or international events, with the promise of a more comfortable life or rich contracts, or those who, sick of the blockade, or living in a decent but poor country, sail away in rafts heading for the so-called First World, under the wet feet - dry feet policy and Cuban Adjustment Act, which politicize the decision of all immigrants.
When he expressed his heartfelt condolences and solidarity to the Belgian people for the terrorist attacks in Brussels, with a death toll of more than 30 people killed, Cubans feel that wound as our own: in these decades of harassment, terrorism based on U.S. territory has caused 3,478 deaths and 2,099 disabled. Some of those "exiles", whose sufferings he says understand, have carried out or still carry terrorism in Cuba and the United States. Posada Carriles, the other mind behind the bombing of a Cuban airliner in mid-fly and responsible for the death of all its passengers and crew, lives happily in Miami. This is why we thought an act of necessary justice the release of the three Cubans who remained imprisoned in that country for fighting against terrorism, the same day that both presidents announced the intention to resume relations.
However, I agree he moves forward a bit when he recognizes that "prior 1959 some North Americans believed Cuba was something to be exploited, disregarding poverty, allowing corruption to thrive", and he adds, "I know the story, but won-t be trampled by it”. Then he recites the verse of José Martí, "I grow a white rose" and declares: "as President of the United States of America, I offer the Cuban people the greeting of peace."
That we appreciate. I will not quote José Martí, although it could bring up a few of his many thoughts and warnings about North American "democracy". I'll just say that was not the path he wanted for Cuba.
Why now? "Obama wonders and he replies naturally:" What the United States was doing was not working. Well it does not work? Wouldn’t it be better to say that it was immoral? Handing down suffering, and even death? "The embargo was hurting Cubans rather than helping them."Wounding our feelings of dignified people, yes, but it also affected our lives. The blockade is criminal. Should not he perhaps apologize on behalf of the State he represents to all Cubans? The term "it doesn’t work" implies, although not directly expressed, the heroic endurance of the Cuban people, its determination to preserve its independence and sovereignty, and also the strong reason for the change: If it doesn’t work we have to make it work (there must be something that forces them to do what we want them to do). I think the meaning of change lies in that expression.
There is another problem with the striking peace greeting: the Cuban Adjustment Act, the dry feet – wet feet policy, the policy of encouraging desertion of doctors and athletes, and the economic, commercial and financial blockade, all those are still in force. About the occupied territory in Guantanamo for more than a century against our will, not a single word. Obama has opened a path that starts with the restoration of relations, passing through many executive provisions before the Congress agrees to cancel the blockade laws. In that sense, he can do so much more.
"I came here to leave behind the last vestiges of Cold War in the Americas," he says solemnly.
So, do you accepted the civilized coexistence that Cuba proposes, a socialist state 90 miles off tour coasts?, will you allow Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, and all Latin American peoples decide their destinies without interference? "We have played different roles in the world," he said, although I do not think he understands or accepts the role played by imperialism, which nevertheless he represents.
"We have been on different sides in different conflicts in the hemisphere," he adds. It’s a delicate issue because the following U.S. governments supported Batista, Somoza, Trujillo, Perez Jimenez, Stroessner, Hugo Banzer, Pinochet, Videla, etc. And they fought Cardenas, Arbenz, Torrijos, a Velazco Alvarado, Salvador Allende, Chavez, Evo ... "We take different paths to support the people of South Africa to eradicate apartheid, but President Castro and I, we were both in Johannesburg paying tribute to Nelson Mandela’s legacy", he says. I really don’t know what support he means, because the government that imprisoned Mandela was a strategic ally of Washington, although he was barely a boy around that time. Cuba paid tribute to Mandela with the blood of its men and women in the African jungle, while fighting next to the Angolan combatants against the invasion of the racist South Africa.
President Obama knows the Cuban people appreciate and defend the conquered independence, therefore reiterates that "the United States has neither the capability nor the intention to impose changes in Cuba, the changes depend on the Cuban people (...) we know that every country, each people must forge its own destiny, its own model.” However, the "new era" presupposes "its" changes ... in Cuba. First he lists the "values" that every country must share, and some particular measures that Cuba should apply. Then, not so secretly, it establishes conditions, "although we lift the embargo tomorrow Cubans will not reach their potential without making changes here in Cuba". He believes he can win the will of youngsters: "I am appealing to the Cuban youth who have to build something new, to rise.
The future of Cuba must be in the hands of the Cuban people "as if it wasn’t so since 1959. And he says:" I know that the Cuban people will make the right decisions”. I know that too. The difference will surely be in the criterion of correctness or convenience we establish. The model of society we seek is not the corrupt Miami, as Obama proposes with unusual openness.
"The people do not have to be defined as opposed to the United States, or vice versa," he says, and he uses a vocabulary foreign to our political vocabulary. We are not opposed to the United States, we are brothers of their good, simple, and creative people, and we open our arms to his government, provided that it is willing to respect the path chosen by Cuba, for which so much blood and sacrifice have cost. "We love Lincoln's homeland, much as we fear the Cutting’s country" said José Martí. That is the true riddle: which of the two will extend the hands?