Statement by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, at the re-open of the Cuban Embassy in the United States

Her Excellency Mrs. Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State;  

Officials of the US Government accompanying her;

Honorable members of Congress;

Esteemed Representatives of the US Organizations, Movements and Institutions who have made huge efforts in favor of the change of the US Cuba policy and the improvement of bilateral relations;

Esteemed Representatives of the Organizations and Movements of the patriotic emigration;

Distinguished Ambassadors;

Comrades of the Cuban Delegation;

José Ramón Cabañas, Chargé D’ Affairs;

Officials and workers of the Cuban Embassy;

Esteemed friends;

The flag that we revere at the entrance of this room is the same that was hauled down here 54 years ago, which was zealously kept in Florida by a family of liberators and later on by the Museum of our eastern city of Las Tunas, as a sort of premonition that this day would certainly come.

Flying once again in this place is the lone-star flag which embodies the generous blood that was shed, the sacrifices made and the struggle waged for more than one hundred years by our people for their national independence and full self-determination, facing the most serious challenges and risks.

Today we pay homage to all those who died in its defense and renew the commitment of the present generations, fully confident on the newer ones, to serve it with honor.

We evoke the memory of José Martí, who was fully devoted to the struggle for the freedom of Cuba and managed to get a profound knowledge about the United States:  In his “North American Scenes” he made a vivid description of the great nation to the North and extolled its virtues.  He also bequeathed to us a warning against its excessive craving for domination which was confirmed by a long history of disagreements.

We’ve been able to make it through this date thanks to the firm and wise leadership of Fidel Castro Ruz, the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, whose ideas we will always revere with utmost loyalty.  We now recall his presence in this city, in April of 1959, with the purpose of promoting fair bilateral relations, as well as the sincere tribute he paid to Lincoln and Washington.  The purposes that brought him to this country on such an early time are the same that have pursued throughout these decades and coincide exactly with the ones that we pursue today.  Many in this room, whether politicians, journalists, outstanding personalities in the fields of arts or sciences, students or American social activists, have been able to treasure unlimited hours of enriching talks with the Commander, which allowed them to have a better understanding of our reasons, goals and decisions.

This ceremony has been possible thanks to the free and unshakable will, unity, sacrifice, selflessness, heroic resistance and work of our people and also the strength of the Cuban Nation and its culture.

Several generations of the revolutionary diplomacy have converged in this effort and offered their martyrs.  The example and vibrant speech of Raúl Roa, the Chancellor of Dignity, have continued to inspire Cuba’s foreign policy and will remain forever in the memory of the younger generations and future diplomats.

I bring greetings from President Raúl Castro, as an expression of the good will and sound determination to move forward, through a dialogue based on mutual respect and sovereign equality, to a civilized coexistence, even despite the differences that exist between both governments, which makes it possible to solve bilateral problems and promote cooperation and the development of mutually beneficial relations, just as both peoples desire and deserve.

We know that this would contribute to peace, development, equity and stability in the continent; the implementation of the purposes and principles enshrined in the UN Charter and in the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, which was signed at the Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States held in Havana.

Today, the re-establishment of diplomatic relations and the re-opening of embassies complete the first stage of the bilateral dialogue and pave the way to the complex and certainly long process towards the normalization of bilateral relations.

The challenge is huge because there have never been normal relations between the United States of America and Cuba, in spite of  the one and a half century of intensive and enriching links that have existed between both peoples.

The Platt Amendment, imposed in 1902 under a military occupation, thwarted the liberation efforts that had counted on the participation or the sympathy of quite a few American citizens and led to the usurpation of a piece of Cuban territory in Guantánamo. Its nefarious consequences left an indelible mark in our common history.

In 1959, the United States refused to accept the existence of a fully independent small and neighboring island and much less, a few years later, a socialist Revolution that was forced to defend itself and has embodied, ever since then, our people’s will.

I have referred to History to reaffirm that today an opportunity has opened up to begin working in order to establish new bilateral relations, quite different from whatever existed in the past. The Cuban government is fully committed to that.

Only the lifting of the economic, commercial and financial blockade which has caused so much harm and suffering to our people; the return of the occupied territory in Guantánamo and the respect for Cuba’s sovereignty will lend some meaning to the historic event that we are witnessing today.

Every step forward will receive the recognition and the favorable acceptance of our people and government, and most certainly the encouragement and approval of Latin America and the Caribbean and the entire world.

We reaffirm Cuba’s willingness to move towards the normalization of relations with the United States in a constructive spirit, but without any prejudice whatsoever to our independence or any interference in the affairs that fall under the exclusive sovereignty of Cubans.

To insist in the attainment of obsolete and unjust goals, only hoping for a mere change in the methods to achieve them will not legitimize them or favor the national interest of the United States or its citizens.  However, should that be the case, we would be ready to face the challenge.

We will engage in this process, as was written by President Raúl Castro in his letter of July 1st to President Obama, “encouraged by the reciprocal intention of developing respectful and cooperative relations between our peoples and governments.”

From this Embassy, we will continue to work tirelessly to promote cultural, economic, scientific, academic and sports relations as well as friendly ties between our peoples.

We would like to convey the Cuban government’s respect and recognition to the President of the United States for urging the US Congress to lift the blockade as well as for the change of policy that he has announced, but in particular for the disposition he has showed to make use of his executive powers for that purpose.

We are particularly reminded of President Carter’s decision to open the respective Interests Sections back in September of 1977.

I am pleased to express my gratitude to the Government of the Swiss Confederation for having represented the Cuban interests for the last 24 years.

On behalf of the Government and the people of Cuba, I would like to express our gratitude to the members of Congress, scholars, religious leaders, activists, solidarity groups, business people and so many US citizens who worked so hard for so many years so that this day would come.

To the majority of Cubans residing in the United States who have advocated and called for a different kind of relation of this country with our Nation, we would like to express our recognition. Deeply moved, they have told us that they would multiply their efforts and will remain faithful to the legacy of the patriotic emigration that supported the ideals of independence.

We would like to express our gratitude to our Latin American and Caribbean brothers and sisters who have resolutely supported our country and called for a new chapter in the relations between the United States and Cuba, as was done, with extraordinary perseverance, by a lot of friends from all over the world.

I reiterate our recognition to the governments represented here by the Diplomatic Corps, whose voice and vote at the UN General Assembly and other fora  made a decisive contribution.

From this country José Martí organized the Cuban Revolutionary Party to conquer freedom, all the justice and the full dignity of human beings.  His ideas, which were heroically vindicated in his centennial year, continue to be the main inspiration that moves us along the path that our people have sovereignly chosen.

Thank you, very much.

  • Published in Now

Miami-Scandal: Will Posada Carriles also be Judged?

What will happen with Posada Carriles admirers?  

Hot debated swirls around the case of an outlaw of Cuban origin who defends the most atrocious terrorist symbol on earth. It calls itself Islamic State (ISIS), when it’s not either of them.

Its fervent supporter is named Miguel Morán Díaz, but strikingly they call him Azizi al Hariri.

Which is the great interest that raises that situation among sectors of Miami and other places?

To what extent it renews - or not - the case of the continental terrorist Luis Posada Carriles who lives happily in that city for years.

Furthermore, closely related to this, what hint of blame falls on the enthusiastic admirers of Posada?

In order to answer that it would be necessary to make a brief synthesis of what happened in the last six months.

A New Herald journalist, Alfonso Chardy, informed this Monday that the case started by late January, when FBI agents discovered a Facebook profile where Morán Díaz called himself Azizi al Hariri.

According to Chardy, this sympathetic public of terrorism will be judged in that city the next July 27th.

Who will take this cause? The federal judge of the district Joan Lenard, the same that imposed brutal sanctions to Five Cuban antiterrorists.

Their names are well-known worldwide: Gerardo, Ramón, Antonio, Fernando, and René.

Chardy commented now that when judge Lenard passes a sentence in the case of Morán Díaz, she will close a chapter that drew the attention of international media.

"An exam of the Facebook profile of Díaz revealed several articles related to ISIS, as well as a recent publication that shows him posing with a weapon", commented the journalist.

Also, reported the same source, he trusted one of his concealed men that with only one sniper he could set chaos in a city for seven days or more, "until they catch him".

About a month ago, on May 27, Morán Díaz was found guilty for possessing an illegal firearm, after "in 2005 he was caught with cocaine."

He is 46 years old, denied bail and judge Chris McAliley ordered to keep him incarcerated until trial because he is "a danger for the community."

The official also mentioned: his interest in the Islamic State, possession of a sophisticated rifle, intention of buying more weapons, their surveillance on a building of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as objective for a "possible terrorist attack."

In spite of everything, Alfonso Chardy commented, they didn't link him to any charge for terrorism.

His record, not being the same, reminds us of Luis Posada Carriles whose long criminal sheet can’t fit in simple journalistic articles.

Hence only 18 days away from the sabotage to a Cuba civil airplane in midflight, off the coasts of Barbados 73 people died, The New York Times said on October 24, 1976:

"The terrorists, who launched a wave of attacks in seven countries, during the last two years, were products or instruments of the CIA."

To support its argument, the Times pinned the cases of Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch Ávila who since their arrival in Miami in 1960 joined that espionage agency.

With these records, among many other in stock, the Venezuelan judge in charge, Delia Estava Moreno, passed an arrest warrant against Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch.

Proven accusations? Homicide, production and use of weapons of war and use of fake documents.

In late November 2010 there was a meeting of Cuban far-right members outside restaurant Versailles, in Miami.

Their agenda: to create a so-called Legal Fund Luis Posada Carriles to financially help the terrorist in his activities.

After that they orchestrated a large and noisy public homage in the streets of that Floridian city, something they repeated with Orlando Bosch Ávila.

Undoubtedly, the cases of Posada Carriles and Miguel Morán Díaz go hand in hand, although we must cross out a tiny difference.

The second one already has date for his trial, but the first has not, only his admirers support - until today – that infamous delay.

  • Published in Now

President Raul Castro Attends Cuban Parliament Plenary Session

Cuban President, Raul Castro, is attending today the Plenary Session of the Fifth Ordinary Period of Sessions of the Parliament Eighth Legislature, at the Convention Center of this capital.

After three intensive working days by commissions, legislators have discussed important problems of the Caribbean island's reality.

They monitored the population's statements in their neighborhood meetings of the delegates with voters, and their corresponding responses in each district of the country.

The sessions also included a joint analyzis on the supervision and control of the production of construction materials, housing and credits to the population.

The Parliament assessed the issues related to the behavior of the plan of the economy in the first half of 2015, and the report on the 2014 budget settlement.

A special moment of debates occurred in the International Relations Committee, where participants confirmed that Cuba will continue defending the just causes in the world, but the struggle against the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States is a priority.

Now the fight against this policy already exceeding 50 years is in first level, the president of the Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples, Kenia Serrano, said.

We need for this stage to have a more effective work through international solidarity, which in addition to plan it against the blockade we can offer support spreading the truth about the Caribbean island, a especially achievements on human rights.

Friends of the Caribbean nation can also report the subversive plans implemented by the United States, said Serrano.

In the debate on the economic blockade, the legislators agreed in using similar initiatives carried out during the struggle for the return of the five Cubans who were held in U.S. prisons for fighting terrorism since 1998.

  • Published in Cuba

Pope Francis' trip to Cuba inspires hope in North Jersey

In a moment that defined his visit to the Middle East last year, Pope Francis bowed in prayer as he touched the “separation wall” between Israel and the West Bank, sending a silent message against the divisive symbol and conflict.

When the pontiff goes to Cuba in September, before his back-to-back visits to New York, Washington and Philadelphia, he’ll be watched for similar actions – as much for what he does as what he says, one church expert said.

The pope is visiting Cuba on the heels of a historic thaw in relations with the U.S. that he and the Vatican played a key role in engineering, holding talks between the two countries in Rome last year. He wrote letters to President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, initiating the dialogue, and assigned the archbishop of Havana to act as an intermediary.

Obama has since called for lifting the embargo on trade with Cuba after more than 50 years, and some steps have been taken toward that end, in addition to a loosening of travel restrictions to the island.

In North Jersey, Cuban-American Catholics welcomed the pope’s visit, but were mostly skeptical that lifting of economic sanctions would do much to influence the Castro regime. They said they hoped Pope Francis would address the Cuban peoples’ grievances with their government, including restricted civil liberties, its holding of political prisoners and the extreme influence of its military.

While many North Jersey Cuban-Americans interviewed last week would like Pope Francis to chastise Castro for his oppressive regime and expose a host of domestic problems, as a diplomat, his message is likely to be guarded, said the Rev. Claudio M. Burgaleta, a Jesuit scholar and associate professor of religion at Fordham University. During his visit to three Latin American countries last week, Pope Francis was generally silent on sensitive local issues that many activists had hoped he would address, opting instead to speak in general terms about freedom and environmental protection.

“It bears underscoring that Francis is going as the leader of the Catholic Church, but Francis is also going as a head of state – Cuba has diplomatic relations with the Holy See. I don’t think we can expect on an official state visit, that he’ll insult his host,” Burgaleta said last week.

But, Burgaleta continued, “He’s also a pope who’s rather unpredictable in his gestures. There’s an excitement in, ‘What is this guy going to do apart from the official schedule?’ ”

Pope Francis’ 2½-day trip to Cuba, his first as pope, will include a Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square, where his two immediate predecessors also held services. The pope will visit with Castro after the Mass. He’ll also meet with families and bishops and bless the city of Holguin from the highly symbolic Cross Hill – for Burgaleta, an unusual inclusion in the papal visit and possibly the site for an important gesture.

“A very important battle in the Cubans’ war for independence was fought there,” he said, referring to Holguin and its role in the 19th-century Cuban wars. “It will be interesting.”

Before he became pope, Francis wrote a book about Pope John Paul II’s speeches in Cuba, which focused on the importance of families and open dialogue, both issues Pope Francis has championed on the world stage. Burgaleta said he expects to hear some of those messages in Cuba, which has a high divorce rate and low birth rate, as well as increasing pessimism among young people and ongoing tensions between Cubans on and off the island.

The pope will leave Cuba for a five-day visit to the U.S., which includes a meeting with Obama and the first-ever address by a pope to a joint session of Congress. Burgaleta said that speech could include a reference to the Cuba embargo, which only Congress has the authority to end. But there, too, the pope may prefer to use more “coded language,” he said.

However he’s able to do it – in words or actions – many North Jersey Catholics of Cuban descent said they would like the pope to spur changes in the government’s responsiveness to the needs of its people, something they’re not confident ending the U.S. embargo will do – a position held by, among others, Cuban-American U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Marco Rubio of Florida.

Mendendez’s office declined to comment on the pope’s trip. A spokeswoman for Rubio referred to comments he made in May at an event at the Council on Foreign Relations, defining his own position as being in the interest of U.S. national security, whereas Pope Francis was seeking world peace.

“His desire is peace and prosperity,” Rubio, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, said of the pope. “He wants everyone to be better off … there are many Roman Catholics on the island of Cuba, and he desires a better future. And anything he can do to open up more opportunities for them, he’s going to pursue.”

Rubio said his own point of view is rooted in “the belief that it is not good for our country nor the people of Cuba to have an anti-American dictatorship 90 miles from our shores. A nation that harbors terrorists. A nation that harbors fugitives from American justice. A nation that harbors advanced intelligence-gathering facilities for China and Russia.”

Local parishioners also were concerned with Cuba’s repressive government and hoped the pope would address it.

“They’re being oppressed – men forced into the military and not having the right to speak their mind,” said Frank Velasco of Bogota, a former youth minister at St. Michael’s Parish in Union City. “If he can by a miracle happen to find a way to convince the Cuban government it’s completely not right, not Christian-like, that would be great. That would be a bigger move than anything ongoing between the U.S. and Cuba. That would be the biggest miracle.”

Velasco has faith that, while Pope Francis is in Cuba, “he’ll be able to speak his mind out more than any other previous pope. He might be able to forge some openness with the Cuban government and the rest of the world: releasing political prisoners, starting some open dialogue in terms of basic human rights, giving back to the people.”

Others were more skeptical of the pope’s possible impact, including Fernando Alonzo, a parishioner at St. Joseph’s Church in Oradell and staunch opponent of ending the U.S. embargo.

“Will Cuba change?” he asked. “So far all negotiations have brought no change in the way the Cuban government treats its people.”

Hugo Jimenez, a former councilman in Ridgefield, said he’d like to hear Pope Francis “promote freedom in general.”

“I just hope the progress continues,” he said. “I have a little bit of reservation it will continue in a positive way with Raul Castro being president.”

But if anyone can move Castro, it might be Pope Francis. Burgaleta, the church expert, noted comments Castro made during his visit to Rome in the spring, telling the press he was so enamored with the pope that he might return to the Catholic Church. “If the pope continues this way, I will go back to praying and go back to the church, and I’m not joking,” Castro said.

The Rev. Cesar Infante, a priest at St. Joseph’s of the Palisades Church in West New York, a city of many Cuban immigrants, said he believes the pope will, at the very least, be effective with the people in Cuba. Infante, who’s from Colombia, said he has noticed that Latin Americans have taken to his practical style and tangible examples.

Infante says some parishioners are “inspired by how [Pope Francis] addresses the people, his way of living. He’s reachable to people.”

  • Published in Now

Biennial and Something More in the Summer

Visual arts are part of the cultural events of the summer, with some echoes of 12th Havana Biennal that just recently finished, along with new exhibitions, workshops and guided tours.

  • Published in Culture
Subscribe to this RSS feed