As we have seen (“Trump’s speech on Cuba” 6/17/2017), immediately following Donald Trump’s June 16 speech on Cuba, the Revolutionary Government of Cuba issued a declaration. It affirms that Cuba remains open to negotiations with the United States, on a basis of mutual respect, but that it will not compromise its sovereignty in order to improve relations with the United States. Any changes in the Cuban political-economic system, regularly occurring as its socialism evolves, are made by Cuba as a sovereign nation, and they never will be made because of conditions established by a foreign power.
At a press conference on June 19, Bruno Rodríguez, Cuban Minister of Foreign Relations, read a prepared statement. Rodríguez is a dignified man with a conservative manner, always careful in his choice of words. However, anger could be discerned as he denounced the June 16 “show,” which he characterized as a grotesque spectacle. He observed that Trump was surrounded by “old henchmen and thieves of the Batista dictatorship, mercenaries of the Bay of Pigs brigade, and terrorists.” Among those who were at Trump’s side were: a terrorist detained in California in 1995 with an arsenal of arms, who was involved in an attempt against Fidel Castro; a member of an armed group that infiltrated Cuba in 1974; and a third who committed terrorist acts of piracy against Cuban fisherman between 1972 and 1975. Rodríguez noted that among those with Trump was the wife of a Batista dictatorship torturer, who had subsequently financed a series of bombings in Cuban tourist facilities in 1997. “I strongly protest before the government of the United States this . . . offense to the Cuban people, to the world, and to the victims of terrorism everywhere.”
Rodríguez also noted that the show included frequent mention of “the father of an out-of-tune violinist who played the U.S. national anthem.” He pointed out that Trump omitted mention of the fact that Capitan Bonifacio Haza had murdered the Cuban youths Carlos Díaz and Orlando Carvajal in the last days of the Batista dictatorship; and that Haza had participated in the assassinations of the well-known revolutionary organizer and activist Frank País, his comrade in struggle Raúl Pujol, and in a later moment, his younger brother Josué País.
Rodríguez maintained that the measures announced by Trump are a backward step in U.S.-Cuban relations. Further, he expects that they will adversely affect U.S.-Latin American and Caribbean relations, and that they will seriously damage the credibility of U.S. foreign policy.
Rodríguez reaffirmed Cuban willingness to dialogue, but on a basis of mutual respect. “I reiterate the will of Cuba to continue respectful dialogue and cooperation in areas of mutual interest and to negotiate pending matters with the United States, on the basis of equality and absolute respect to our independence and sovereignty.”
He maintained that Cuban sovereignty must be respected. “Cuba will not make concessions inherent to its sovereignty and independence; it will not negotiate its principles nor accept conditions, as it never has, never, throughout the history of the Revolution.” He made reference to the recent discussion among the Cuban people and the Communist Party of Cuba of a new economic and social model. With respect to any such internal discussions, Rodriquez insisted that “any necessary changes in Cuba will be decided in a sovereign manner by the Cuban people, and only the Cuban people, as always has been done. We do not ask anyone’s opinion, nor do we ask anyone for permission.”
In the subsequent taking of questions from the press, Rodríguez was asked, by a representative of Prensa Latina, why Cuba continues with its posture of willingness to dialogue, when there is not a counterpart disposed to dialogue. The Minister responded:
There is a historic tendency. It is not known if it will be during the government of President Trump or during the following government. But there is no doubt that history will obligate a government of the United States to lift the blockade and normalize relations with Cuba. We will have the patience, the resistance and the determination to wait until that moment arrives, and above all, to work actively for it to occur, supported and accompanied by the ample majority of the people of the United States, of the Cuban emigration, and of the international community.
The Federation of Cuban Workers backs the Declaration of the Cuban Revolutionary Government, responding to the aggressive words of the President of the United States Donald Trump. . . . It ratifies its conviction to maintain firm in defense of this genuine revolution, constructed with and for the workers, under the leadership of Fidel and Raúl. . . . The backward turn will not intimidate us. . . . We will remain faithful to the Communist Party of Cuba, guide of the work that we are constructing. . . . We support the rejection, expressed in the Declaration of the Revolutionary Government, of the manipulation for political purposes of the issue of human rights as well as use of double standards in the treatment of this theme. . . . Once again the government of the United States is wrong with respect to Cuba and its workers; we will not renounce our independence nor our solid unity. We will never sacrifice our right to construct a sovereign, independent, socialist, democratic, prosperous and sustainable nation.