The re-opening ceremony was extensively covered on Cuban television. The Cuban journalist Rosa Miriam Elizalde, present on the scene in Washington, described it as a beautiful and emotional ceremony, in which many present could be observed with tears with their eyes. She proclaimed it a historic moment of pride for the Cuban people.
Cuban television journalist Renaldo Taladríz described it as an event without precedent, in which a small country with limited natural resources has resisted all strategies of attack by a global power and has persevered in its quest for self-determination. He maintained that it would not have been possible without the leadership of Fidel Castro and his profound understanding of revolution.
The importance of the leadership of Fidel also was expressed by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez, in his speech during the ceremony at the new Cuban embassy on June 20, as well as in his joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry. He proclaimed: “We have arrived here thanks to the firm and wise leadership of Fidel Castro Ruz, the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, whose ideas we always will conserve 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.” Rodríguez further observed that only the end of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba; the return of the territory of the Guantanamo Naval Base; and full respect for the sovereignty of Cuba would give meaning to the historic day. (See Statement by Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, at the ceremony to re-open the Cuban Embassy in the United States, June 20, 2015).
Both Cuban and US diplomats refer to “profound differences” between the United States and Cuba. However, Rosa López, researcher at the Center for US and Hemispheric Studies of the University of Havana, maintains that what exists between the United States and Cuba is not difference but conflict. Differences can be resolved by negotiation, give and take, and compromise. But conflicts are deeper. They can only be resolved when one of the parties changes in essence. Thus, a resolution of the conflict would require either the fall of the Cuban revolutionary project or the coming to power in the United States of an alternative political party with an anti-imperialist foreign policy. In the long term, the prospects for the latter are more favorable, because Cuba is emerging as a dignified example of a sovereign nation standing in opposition to the structures of the unsustainable neocolonial world system, a symbol for a more just and democratic world; and because the global powers must abandon imperialism, if humanity is to survive and a degree of global political stability is to be achieved.
In the short term, the USA-Cuba conflict will continue. The Cuban government insists on full respect for its sovereignty as integral to the normalization of relations. Its strategy is to call upon the United States to renounce the imperialist intentions that have guided US policy with respect to Cuba since 1898. The Cuban government maintains that a new US policy with respect to Cuba is consistent with the desires of the peoples of the United States, Cuba and Latin America; and that a new policy would have benefits for both the United States and Cuba in regard to commerce, migration, the environment, science, and health. The Cuban strategy is part of a larger vision and long-range goal of transforming the neocolonial world-system and constructing from the South a more just, democratic and sustainable world-system, in which the sovereignty and equality of all nations are respected.
The United States government is divided with respect to its short-term strategy for Cuba. The moderates, led by President Obama, want to end the embargo and to undermine the Cuban Revolution through “soft power,” by means of an ideological and cultural invasion, utilizing its control of the international media of communication and the seductive power of the consumer society and the “American way of life.” They call for the normalization of relations with Cuba, in which interference in the internal affairs of Cuba would occur in a manner consistent with internationally accepted norms. The Right, led by Congressional Republicans, are opposed to normalization. They want to conserve the “embargo,” maintaining that the United States, as a dominant military power, does not have to comply with international laws and norms. (See “Cuba is and will be sovereign” 7/3/2015).
All the diplomats and journalists, Cuban and US, are in agreement that the process of normalization will be complex and long. Indeed so, given that the USA-Cuba conflict continues, and the two parties have different concepts of normalization.
If we can discern the signs of the time, we can see that the march of history in the long run is on the side of Cuba, for Cuba represents those contemporary forces in the world that can save humanity and the planet. The emergence of an alternative vision committed to global justice is good news for the people of the United States, who have historically yearned for the fulfillment of the promise of democracy. They have not yet heard this good news.
Key words: Cuba, diplomatic relations