Like many people, I have been following Barack Obama’s visit to our country and have been experiencing many different feelings. On the one hand, I’ve felt a healthy patriotic and revolutionary pride in seeing a U.S. president rectifying policy toward Cuba and saying, on our very own soil, that the embargo needs to come to an end, which reaffirms respect for our sovereignty and independence, things that we Cubans have earned with our sacrifice, our blood, our sweat and our history. On the other hand, I’ve felt the risk, meaning that there are those that think that these changes — just lukewarm changes for the time being — have made the contradiction between the interests of U.S. imperialism and those of the Cuban nation disappear. But only after listening to his speech on Thursday morning did I decide to pen these words because, as Fidel warned more than half a century ago, from now on everything will be more difficult.
Who could doubt the enormous complexity of U.S. society, in which black and white analysis is worth so little?
A turbulent history in which many things have blended together: the battles for independence against English colonialism; genocidal onslaughts against an indigenous population; hot-headed industrial developments; an internecine war that cost the lives of more than 600,000 people; a paradigmatic creativity and inventiveness in science and technology; a warmongering expansionism which Mexico and Cuba — just two examples from our region — have fallen victim to; a society with extraordinary cultural manifestations in music, literature and film, along with a messianism that does not honor these values; and also industrious and enterprising citizens that nevertheless rely heavily on the machinery of an imperial state. This imperial state is the richest and most indebted country in the world, demanding respect for human rights from others while itself respecting them the least (to which more than a half century of the economic embargo can attest); and a society in which violence serves as the guiding force to maintain its [persona].
In short, [it is] a country full of contradictions, yet also a country where it would be naïve to think that the current rapprochement with Cuba is simply the result of the views, the will and the skill of Obama, and not an integral part of the interests of the real power broker in the U.S. — big business.
If Barack Hussein Obama had proved to be ineffective with respect to the powers that govern the United States, it would have been difficult for him to be elected president in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, and it would have been difficult for him to start the process of changing policy toward Cuba.
This is the same Obama who, just two months after having received the Nobel Peace Prize, sent tens of thousands of soldiers to Afghanistan; the man who authorized hundreds of drone attacks that cost the lives of hundreds of civilians in many countries around the world; the man that took part in the conspiracy that destroyed Libya; the man who armed the so-called Syrian opposition and in so doing strengthened the self-titled Islamic State; the man who approved the supply of weapons to Kiev after the coup d’état; and the president who has been behind the Arab Spring and its fatal consequences for that area of the world. This is all the same Obama. As the poet Manuel Navarro Luna would say, “Don’t be surprised by anything.”
In fact, there are not two Obamas, one “good” and one “bad.” We do not have someone with a bipolar personality before us, but rather a unipolar personality. This career politician who, beyond his character traits, his background, his path toward becoming a politician, right up to his inclinations as an individual and his likely aim of leaving a legacy as the U.S. president that changed policy toward Cuba, has always acted and still acts in the strategic interests of the powers that govern the U.S.
Yes, he is a politician, and we must recognize his charisma, his masterful stagecraft, his sense of media opportunity and also his communication skills. He is probably the best and most capable today at masking the strategic aims of U.S. imperialism toward Cuba, Latin America and the Caribbean.
On this visit to our country, President Obama has not wasted the opportunity to call an end to the embargo. These are the last words of someone who will soon disappear from the arena of U.S. government. These are phrases that he can now say, and for which he is totally responsible, because he doesn’t want to nor could he ever again run for president, and because the formalities of the political system of the country to the north allow him to present himself as not responsible for the embargo — in fact, as opposed to it — and who is advocating new policy while having endorsed [the lifting of the embargo] almost throughout his entire presidency. He is a man apathetic to see [his presidency] end.
But returning to the speech in question, an exhaustive analysis of this intervention cannot be the subject of a brief article, so I’m only going to emphasize certain aspects that stand out at first glance, whereas several analysts have expressed that there is a lot that is not said and little has been granted, albeit some good additions. This is the same Obama who could do so much more using the power of his office, but has not.
Upon reading the fine print of his remarks, what it all comes down to is that this change is something important, particularly for young people whose life experiences with the neighbor to the north lack [the aura of] criminal sabotage — such as in the episodes involving the Bay of Pigs, the October missile crisis, the counter-revolutionary groups, the attacks against our leaders, biological warfare and so on — and for whom the embargo’s effects have been buffered by the protection of society and family.
There is no doubt: Obama is the gentle and seductive face of this very danger. He did not apologize for the crimes against Cuba, he did not mention the Guantanamo Naval Base, he did not talk about the Cuban Adjustment Act and he did not say why he’s not doing more to lift the embargo when he is in a position to do so, along with many other unbelievable omissions.
While it was evident that he does not want to cooperate with Cuba, but rather to cooperate with that part of our society that means better conditions for the strategic interests it represents, he wanted to seduce the young people, stimulate their self-serving inclinations and their desire for purely individual improvement, and present capitalist growth as the universal cure-all and not the cause of the crisis, the depletion of natural resources and the disappearance of the human race. He also wanted to contribute to the fragmentation of Cuban society for the purpose of recovering U.S. hegemony here and elsewhere in the region. In his speech, he adopted a smug satisfied look of someone who is giving us the right to solve our own problems — which no one has to afford us. It’s now our turn to explain and demonstrate this.
Obama’s visit is a victory for the Cuban people and for all the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, which implies that the United States has been forced to recognize that they have run up against our dignity and now are opting for a rigged detour. We should therefore remember those words of Julius Fucik at the foot of the gallows: “Be alert.”
The end of Obama’s visit was — along with his beautiful family toward whom the Cuban people felt a natural sympathy — received, treated and dismissed politely by a people and their respective authorities who boast about their hospitality, respect and willingness toward dialogue without dictates, but whose majority know well the ground they walk upon and who exude the sovereign Martínian* and pro-Castro spirit, which was chanted at the stadium: “Raúl, Raúl, Raúl …”!
*Editor’s note: Martinian refers to matters related to Jose Marti.