Cuba’s Raul Castro Explains Advances with USA

December 17, 2014 | Print Print |

raul-17-12HAVANA TIMES — Cuban president Raul Castro spoke to the nation today at noon, the same time that Barack Obama was making an address from the White House. The two leaders were addressing, in their own way, a successful diplomatic effort that included the release of prisoners Alan Gross, the three remaining Cuban Five members and an unnamed US agent who was also jailed in Cuba.

The following is the text of the speech by the Cuban leader. To see President Obama’s speech click here.

Statement by the Cuban President Raul Castro

Fellow countrymen, Since my election as President of the State Council and Council of Ministers I have reiterated in many occasions our willingness to hold a respectful dialogue with the United States on the basis of sovereign equality, in order to deal reciprocally with a wide variety of topics without detriment to the national Independence and self-determination of our people.

This stance was conveyed to the US Government both publicly and privately by Comrade Fidel on several occasions during our long standing struggle, stating the willingness to discuss and solve our differences without renouncing any of our principles.

The heroic Cuban people, in the wake of serious dangers, aggressions, adversities and sacrifices has proven to be faithful and will continue to be faithful to our ideals of independence and social justice. Strongly united throughout these 56 years of Revolution, we have kept our unswerving loyalty to those who died in defense of our principles since the beginning of our independence wars in 1868.

Today, despite the difficulties, we have embarked on the task of updating our economic model in order to build a prosperous and sustainable Socialism.

As a result of a dialogue at the highest level, which included a phone conversation I had yesterday with President Obama, we have been able to make headway in the solution of some topics of mutual interest for both nations.

As Fidel promised on June 2001,when he said: “They shall return!” Gerardo, Ramon, and Antonio have arrived today to our homeland.

The enormous joy of their families and of all our people, who have relentlessly fought for this goal, is shared by hundreds of solidarity committees and groups, governments, parliaments, organizations, institutions, and personalities, who for the last sixteen years have made tireless efforts demanding their release.

We convey our deepest gratitude and commitment to all of them. President Obama’s decision deserves the respect and acknowledgement of our people. I wish to thank and acknowledge the support of the Vatican, most particularly the support of Pope Francisco in the efforts for improving relations between Cuba and the United States.

I also want to thank the Government of Canada for facilitating the high-level dialogue between the two countries. In turn, we have decided to release and send back to the United States a spy of Cuban origin who was working for that nation. On the other hand, and for humanitarian reasons, today we have also sent the American citizen Alan Gross back to his country. Unilaterally, as has always been our practice, and in strict compliance with the provisions of our legal system, the concerned prisoners have received legal benefits, including the release of those persons that the Government of the United States had conveyed their interest in.

We have also agreed to renew diplomatic relations. This in no way means that the heart of the matter has been solved. The economic, commercial, and financial blockade, which causes enormous human and economic damages to our country, must cease.

Though the blockade has been codified into law, the President of the United States has the executive authority to modify its implementation. We propose to the Government of the United States the adoption of mutual steps to improve the bilateral atmosphere and advance towards normalization of relations between our two countries, based on the principles of International Law and the United Nations Charter.

Cuba reiterates its willingness to cooperate in multilateral bodies, such as the United Nations. While acknowledging our profound differences, particularly on issues related to national sovereignty, democracy, human rights and foreign policy, I reaffirm our willingness to dialogue on all these issues. I call upon the Government of the United States to remove the obstacles hindering or restricting ties between peoples, families, and citizens of both countries, particularly restrictions on travelling, direct post services, and telecommunications.

The progress made in our exchanges proves that it is possible to find solutions to many problems. As we have reiterated, we must learn the art of coexisting with our differences in a civilized manner. We will continue talking about these important issues at a later date.

Thank you.


What's your opinion?

  • Tonya Welton

    get ready to see arrogant americans at resorts now

    • Moses Patterson

      Only arrogant Americans? Why not welcome all of us?

    • Kyle T

      Because the arrogant are only found in America. smh

    • snowbird04

      What an arrogant statement

    • IN UR FACE

      why arrogant Americans are the best, they are better than arrogant Cubans, arrogant Canadians, arrogant Mexicans, arrogant Brazilians, Arrogant French, arrogant Russians, arrogant Chinese, arrogant Japanese, arrogant Thai, arrogant Italians, arrogant Spaniards……. etc etc etc……
      Now go eat your words tonya

    • Mike in Montreal

      Finally! All those smug limeys at the buffet were starting to get old.
      You forgot to do the boilerplate rant about Mcdonald’s, KFC, and Starbucks.

  • John Goodrich

    ……………”Today, despite the difficulties, we have embarked on the task of updating our economic model in order to build a prosperous and sustainable Socialism.”
    The above was excerpted from Raul’s speech.
    On the optimistic side, it shows an honesty about the fact that Cuba is NOT a socialist society or economy .
    As pointed out on numerous occasions as required by an intransigent willful ignorance on the part of imperialism’s numerous supporters here, no economy can be considered socialist or communist or anarchist if it does not run democratically; from the bottom up…majority rule …one person, one vote.
    If it is run from the top it is either private enterprise capitalism as exists in most of the world OR state capitalism in which the private owners are replaced by government officials .
    There is little to no difference in the lack of democracy between the two forms .
    Both are totalitarian . Both rule from the top .
    On the pessimistic side of this: I don’t see many signs of a bottom- up -democratic running of the country. society and /or workplace as dictated ( no pun intended) by (actual) socialist philosophy.
    Indeed , this is the same sort of asking people to support an obvious dictatorship
    while that dictatorship works toward a socialist country that Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin et al used to maintain that totalitarian society.
    It was not, could not be called socialist or communist except that it worked for both Stalin and the imperialists and so became what the uneducated call socialism and/or communism .
    I’ll believe Raul is working toward a democratic society -which- of necessity- must involve socialism when I see the formation of effective democratically functioning grass-roots and community/neighborhood organizations similar to what Hugo Chavez initiated in Venezuela where the poorer working people have power to effect change on both their level and then cooperatively with other groups on up the governmental rungs.
    As an anarchist it is my base belief that ALL governments, long enough in power, become self-preserving, corrupt and ultimately totalitarian .
    So far that belief has held up very well .
    I’m waiting to see what comes of this big opportunity to democratize the Cuban society and might be optimistic were I not to believe what I believe as an anarchist.
    I’d like to be pleasantly surprised and have my belief shown to have an exception for the sake of the Cuban people and the world. .

  • Ron

    Cuban sovereignty in big trouble!

  • Dan

    Where’s Moses ? Has he been fired ?!

    • Moses Patterson

      Hahaha! That’s the thing about working for free. They don’t fire you. You fire them! At first blush, I wanted to fire Obama but after giving it some thought, I realize that everything wrong with Cuba will still be wrong even after we post an ambassador in Havana. Buildings will still fall down, toilet paper will still be hard to find, etc. Real change for the Cuban people must be homegrown.

      • pipefitter

        In some respects I agree with you Moses, the things that realy impeed progress in Cuba are things like the restrictions and fines by the US on financial institutions and Helms Burton Act that makes shipping to Cuba difficult and expensive. I see that they just fined a German bank 1 Billion for transacting with Cuba.

        • Moses Patterson

          …for transacting with Cuba, Iran, Sudan and others. Cuba only wants you to believe it’s all about them. Besides, if the fine is $1B, how much was the profit they were making? This was about transactions much bigger than little Cuba.

      • armstro

        The most important aspect of Obama’s speech deals with communication. If Cuba has unlimited access to the internet and their phone system becomes resonable then changes will start to occur. They have to. Hopefully the changes will come slowly and very carefully and be geared to improving the lives of all Cubans not just the rich (those will family in the States with money). One thing is given though, the next few years will be interesting for the lives of my friends. Now having said that if they open a McDonalds in Camaguey I will have to move the hell out

        • Griffin

          The limited access to the internet in Cuba has never been about a lack of equipment. It’s about government control. Nothing Obama has said or done has changed the Cuban government’s attitude toward controlling & limiting free speech and free communications for the Cuban people.

    • pipefitter

      I think Agent Moses is away getting new instructions.

      • Moses Patterson

        Enjoy the good news while you can. I hear from friends in Havana that there is a cooking oil shortage going on right now. The more things change, the more they stay the same….

  • robert d

    Good luck Cuba … I think you will need it.

  • John

    Finally sanity has returned to the US. Communism in Cuba would have dies out decades ago if not for US actions. You spread democracy through words not threats and extortion. Maybe the US has finally come to understand this (with help from Canadians who already do).

    • Griffin

      Have 25 years of diplomatic rations and trade with China brought democracy to that country? The protesters in Hong Kong would not say it has.

  • DC1945

    Great news!

  • Ronin

    wow. It’s about time. Wish all Cubans the best of luck.

  • Ronin

    …. And all you nay sayers, stop spewing your negative rhetoric, give it a chance and lets see where this new road will take us.

    • Moses Patterson

      That’s right, if we just stop talking negative, things will get better in Cuba. Really?

      • Ronin

        YEAH REALLY…..Stop your negative crapolla,, you see the part that says “give it a chance” ,,, you miss that part?????? it’s a new beginning, it may succeed, of course it’s not going to go from 0-60 in 1.5 seconds, but one thing is for sure Mr. Patterson, if you wanna sit on the sidelines and throw in the towel before the fight even starts, then you will lose WITHOUT A FIGHT. There is hope on the horizon, lets support it until we are given reason not to. If our forefathers had that same negative attitude, we still be under British rule. Cheerio

        • Wayne

          Indeed…

      • wayne

        “Negative” comments like yours…..well I don’t think anyone that knows anything about Cuba…it’ problems and solutions…..”REALLY” pay any attention to Moses….”really”

        • Griffin

          So let me see if I understand you and Ronin:

          You are hoping this change in US policy will lead to the end of the Castro regime and the establishment of a free and democratic Cuba, where the government respect the human rights of the Cuban people?

          Or are you hoping this deal bails out the Castro regime and they’re able to go on ruling over the Cuban people for another 5 decades?

          Which is it you are cheering for? In previous comments you praised Cuba under the Castros, so I assume you want that tot continue. Today, you say these new developments will bring “change to Cuba”.

          So I ask you to clarify, what sort of changes do you see coming to Cuba as a result of Obama’s new policy?

  • Leo Willik

    My best wishes to a great people, an incredibly proud and rich culture. Please, do not be quick to sell your selves short. The vultures will circle quickly to pick at the riches that is your nation. Stay sovereign and God bless you my friends.

  • Griffin

    I note that Raul began his speech with a call to defend Cuban sovereignty and the ” self-determination of our people”.

    Does that mean he is no finally willing to allow the Cuban people to hold a free and democratic election? Only through a democratically elected government can the people be truly sovereign.

    • Moses Patterson

      Tragically, you misunderstood or there was a faulty translation. What he really said was…”I, myself, in determining for our people…”.

    • David Perry Davis

      I sure hope so. And I hope the Cuban people can navigate a transition to a democracy that’s far, far better than the sad situation we have in the USA with “super PACs”, Citizens United and “Madison Avenue ownership” of politics wherein the richest of the rich control elections via BS, lie-filled slander campaigns. Cuba can now have all the things we need so desperately here … primarily, a democracy not owned heart and soul by the richest 1% where Fox-news morons line up to vote against their interests.

      • Wayne

        Well said

  • Wayne Pitchko

    Certainly a “step” in the right direction……isolation/embargo……Is no answer…..dialogue with each other is only way…..Cuba has to be “open” to ideas…..but will not be bullied……some form of “bottom up” democratic socialism has to be formed….will not be easy…..

    • Ronin

      Amen

    • Griffin

      It won’t be easy at all now that Obama has thrown the Castro regime a lifeline.

      Just days before this historic announcement, Raul Castro felt comfortable enough to send his goons out to beat up the Ladies in White on International Human Rights Day.

      So how is this a step in the right direction?

      If you want democracy in Cuba, whether it’s a bottom-up social democracy, or a classical liberal democracy, that dream just suffered a fatal blow today. Obama conceded far too much and got nothing in return. The Cuban people were not even consulted.

  • ron ridenour

    Chief of Cuba’s State Raul Castro has responded to imperial’s chief Obama’s relaxation of the empire’s blockade with, among others, the following words:

    “While acknowledging our profound differences, particularly on issues related to national sovereignty, democracy, human rights and foreign policy, I reaffirm our willingness to dialogue on all these issues.”

    This is a treacherous attidude. No truly sovereign state will be open to discuss with an aggressive state its “sovereignty, democracy, human rights and foreign policy”.
    Just imagine what it would mean if the president of the United States said the same to any president let alone the long time “communist” “terrorist state” state.

  • David Perry Davis

    There remains a TWO MILLION DOLLAR reward for Joanne Chesmiard, a/k/a Assata Shakur, who killed Werner Forrester, a policeman with a wife and two small children.

    Two million freakin’ dollars. Ya throw her in the back seat (okay, maybe the truck) drive to the East Gate at Guantanamo, and ya freakin’ retire. Two million dollars US…. Who’s with me here?

  • CUBAQUS

    Now he has to explain why there is no internet access in Cuba, why there is no food, why there is no freedom …..

    A good article:
    The US embargo is disappearing; so, too, must Cuba’s

    dictatorship | Owen Jones | Comment is free | theguardian.com –

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/18/us-embargo-disappearing-cuba-dictatorship-castro