Contradictions in the Normalization of Relations between the US and Cuba



From the moment both governments publicly announced the decision on Dec. 17, 2014, there is no doubt that the paths now open to forging relations between the United States and Cuba have been long awaited by people of good will in both countries and around the world.

It is also evident that this process launched publicly just six months ago, is the triumphant result of the Cuban revolutionary process which gained and secured the people’s independence, sovereign rights and the right to self-determination.

The president of the United States thus implicitly recognized this [process], both on Dec. 17 last year and on July 1, by announcing the opening of embassies in the respective capitals. He further stated that the permanent policy of aggression and the war policy against the Cuban people — which the U.S. has maintained for 56 years since 1959 — were of no use to the interests of his country.

And I say that the U.S. president implicitly recognized this because the intention of the war policy was to destroy the Cuban revolution, and the U.S. government has had to negotiate with the government of the Cuban revolution to establish a new relationship with Cuba.

Regarding the issue of the new relationship with Cuba, it has been pleasing to hear President Obama maintain and defend on July 1 the need for a new relationship with the Cuban people and their government, as with the U.S. people and their government, hearing him say, for example, “And that’s what this is about: a choice between the future and the past.”

Although, of course, I am not confident about this [future]. What does this future mean for President Obama? If this was about Cuba’s future, I do not believe that the future which the president of the United States could want for the Cuban people is what the Cuban people want for themselves. Because if it were so that Barack Obama was this way he would never have become president and the Cuban people would have never forged their revolution.

Nor am I confident about this if it involves a new turn in relations for the United States, because, among other fundamental questions, its government has not been opposed to the new appropriations approved in June by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, which approved $30 million for programs “to promote democracy and strengthen civil society in Cuba” in the 2016 fiscal year, that is, the next fiscal year — $10 million more than the amount allocated for the current 2015 fiscal year — as Washington has always done in “the past.”

The bill also allocated just over an additional $28 million to Radio and TV Martí, as has been done “in the past.” Adding a new dimension to the subversion policy “of the future,” the House Committee on Appropriations approved a budget of $17.5 million in the same bill to promote programs and Internet “access” in Cuba, including online social network ZunZuneo, and other existing projects that have not yet been publicly reported.

The website “Along the Malecón,” which investigates such issues, believes that the U.S. government has publicly budgeted and spent just over $1 billion on subversive programs against Cuba since 1996 to the present; $324 million on programs “to promote democracy and strengthen civil society in Cuba,” and another $700 million on Radio and TV Martí.

Moreover, I am not confident in this future that President Obama has conceived for new relations with Cuba because the press reported that on the very same July 1, aboard the same presidential plane in which President Obama was flying after his speech at the White House on re-establishing embassies in Cuba, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in an informal press conference that, “We will continue to support efforts made by human rights activists. When there are people in Cuba, people with great courage who are fighting for their rights, we are going to support them.”

In the right-wing press’ mendacious spin, both in this country — especially in Miami — and worldwide, against the conditions accepted by both governments to successfully open the respective embassies, the Cuban government has thrown in the towel, and the U.S. government has achieved a key demand: free movement of its diplomatic personnel in Cuba.

It is plain to see the bad faith of the press — not to say “bad mood” — or even ignorance (possibly both) aiming to confuse its readers and downplay the Cuban government’s triumph when said press states it in that way.

Since the same Dec. 17, when the Cuban president spoke about both governments’ decision to achieve the normalization of relations, he made it clear that in order to attain such diplomatic relations, they had to be based on the United Nations Charter and international law, specifically on what was established in this regard in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, towhich both governments are signatories and which governs diplomatic relations between the states.

Article 26 of the Vienna Convention states that “subject to its laws and regulations concerning zones entry into which is prohibited or regulated for reasons of national security, the receiving State shall ensure to all members of the mission [of the sending State] freedom of movement and travel in its territory.”

Even the stupidest of enemies cannot imagine arguing that the government of Cuba, which demanded compliance with this regulation, would forbid what is permitted by the Vienna Convention.

What the Cuban government demanded and achieved is that the U.S. government accept the conditions of the Vienna Convention by which it is bound as a signatory.

The issue was never about U.S. members of mission not having the freedom of movement and travel in Cuban territory, but that in doing so, they would not meddle in Cuba’s internal affairs as forbidden by subparagraph 1 of Article 41 of the Vienna Convention, stating that “without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving State. They also have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.”

Nor can they use, in accordance with subparagraph 3 of Article 41 of the Convention, “the premises of the mission [which] must not be used in any manner incompatible with the functions of the mission as laid down in the present Convention or by other rules of general international law or by any special agreements in force between the sending and the receiving State.”

In a letter dated June 30, 2015, written by the U.S. president addressing the president of Cuba on re-establishing diplomatic relations and embassies in their respective capitals, which was delivered on July 1 by Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, chief of mission at the U.S. Interests Section in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, President Obama pledged that, “In making this decision, the United States is encouraged by the reciprocal intention to develop respectful and cooperative relations between our two peoples and governments consistent with the [p]urposes and [p]rinciples enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, including those related to sovereign equality of States, settlement of international disputes by peaceful means, respect for the territorial integrity and political independence of States, respect for equal rights and self-determination of peoples, non-interference in the internal affairs of States, and promotion and encouragement of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.

The United States and Cuba are each parties to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, signed at Vienna on April 18, 1961, and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, signed at Vienna on April 24, 1963. I am pleased to confirm the understanding of the United States that these agreements will apply to diplomatic and consular relations between our two countries.”

Is the U.S. government obligated to comply with the outlined regulations on diplomatic and consular relations that are established and accepted as part of the international law[s] to which it is a signatory, as President Obama confirms in his letter to President Raúl Castro? And as such, is it obligated to commence the normalization of its relations with the Cuban government and people in an honorable fashion? Or is all of this a short-term farce?

In response, the Cuban president, in a letter dated July 1, addressed the U.S. president on the re-establishment of diplomatic relations and embassies in their respective capitals. The letter, which was delivered on July 1 by Ambassador José Ramón Cabañas, chief of mission at the Cuban Interests Section in the U.S. Department of State, states that “Cuba is likewise inspired by the principles and proposals enshrined in the United Nations Charter and [i]nternational [l]aw, namely, sovereign equality, the settlement of disputes by peaceful means, to refrain from any threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or the political independence of any State, noninterference in matters which are within the domestic jurisdiction of States, the development of friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principles of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and cooperation in solving international problems and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.

All of the above is consistent with the spirit and the norms established in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of April 18, 1961 and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of April 24, 1963, which both the Republic of Cuba and the United States of America are [p]arties to, and will govern diplomatic and consular relations between the Republic of Cuba and the United States of America.”

I conclude this contribution — on an issue that keenly needs to be explained, especially for the youngest ones among us, who have not had the privilege of experiencing what others, like myself, have been able to do — one that seeks to facilitate the least amount of confusion as possible in moments like these, by citing from the Statement by the Cuban Revolutionary Government on these matters, dated July 1, 2015:

“As part of the process toward the normalization of relations, in turn, the foundations of ties that have not existed between our countries in all their history will need to be constructed, in particular, since the military intervention of the United States 117 years ago, in the independence war that Cuba fought for nearly three decades against Spanish colonialism.

These relations must be founded on absolute respect for our independence and sovereignty; the inalienable right of every State to choose its political, economic, social and cultural system, without interference in any form; and sovereign equality and reciprocity, which constitute inalienable principles of international law.”

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  1. Cuba and the U.S. can disagree and still be friends. We can let the past go. But your belief in “the right of every state . . . “, we say as “the right of every person . . . ” Good luck to all the Cuban people, here and there, working this through 🙂

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